Guest Columns: Make sure to recharge batteries of parents

Published 1:00 am Monday, June 5, 2017

Guest Column by Gema Alvarado-Guerrero

During my time as a parent educator for the Parenting Resource Center, I oftentimes would tell those I worked with that it is vital that they take care of themselves to take care of their children, as they cannot give what they don’t have.

Gema Alvarado-Guerrero

For example, think about the batteries in your children’s toys. Brand new batteries make the toys work to their fullest. Eventually, the more they are used, the slower the toy will work and maybe the songs this toy plays gets shorter, but even so you try to squeeze as much battery juice as you can by rotating the batteries. This will work for a couple times, but eventually the batteries have given their most and you are left with a nonworking toy. Something similar happens to parents. Scarce are the traditional families with a stay-at-home parent, and therefore many of us have found ourselves playing multiple roles, which can lead to multiple sources for stress. Take all that cumulative stress, and you may find yourself with anxiety, tense muscles, a short temper, even stomach issues. If you want to keep giving your children the best of everything —  then start taking care of yourself, so you can grow with them and stand by them through their milestones, such as school graduations, marriage and meeting your grandchildren. It is not selfish to invest in you, and no, there is no such thing as an invincible parent — we all feel defeated at one point or another.

So what may self-care look like on a hectic schedule? My favorite is to have a bedtime routine. Not only is it healthy for child development, but it can also give you time to unwind. For example, if the kids are in bed by 8 p.m. and you go to bed at 10 p.m. — that is two hours you have to yourself per night. If you don’t know how to get started on a routine — give us a call! A second favorite is to schedule something fun. It doesn’t have to be complicated — it can be lunch with a friend over your lunch break or knowing when the newest season of your Netflix show comes out. Finally, know that it is OK to say no to tangible items (such as joining a club), as this can lead to making room for activities you may be passionate about. If you devote your time to things you are passionate about, you will feel a better sense of fulfillment.

Gema Alvarado-Guerrero is the executive director of the Parenting Resource Center in Austin. If you would like to talk with a parenting specialist about family challenges, call the toll-free Parent WarmLine at 1-888-584-2204/Línea de Apoyo at 877-434-9528. For free emergency child care call Crisis Nursery at 1-877-434-9599.