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An Adeona Family Podcast: An Early Childhood Journey

Episode 11: Why Self Care is Vital for Parents and Caregivers

On this episode of the Adeona Family Podcast: An Early Childhood Journey, we discuss the importance of self care, support and mental health as a parent and care-giver, as well as practical tips for reaching your inner calm.

What is self care?

Self care refers to the ways and techniques we each can employ to look after ourselves that benefit our physical, mental and emotional well-being. Self care involves ways to fill our bucket and build capacity within ourselves so that we can help build capacity in others, especially as care-givers and families.

However, it’s important to remember that your self care is going to look different from someone else’s. Whether you’re extraverted or introverted or whatever the case may be, it’s about finding what works for you. And it can be difficult to put yourself first as a parent or care-giver or even find time for yourself, but ensuring your basic needs are met and filling your own cup is vital, particularly when it comes to achieving anything in relation to emotional regulation with a child.

Reach out for help

Related Episode

Our episode on co-regulation really sets the stage for “Why Self Care is Vital for Parents and Caregivers” as you can’t be calm with others if you are in a state of stress or dis-regulation. 

Thank You

We’d love to hear from you! If you have any feedback, suggestions or questions about anything we discussed today, please feel free to reach out –

Our Early Childhood Education Centres

Coorparoo | Mitchelton | Noosaville | Mackay


Podcast Transcription

Zoe (00:11):
Welcome back to an early childhood journey today, once again you with myself. So we and Tracy. Today, once again, we would like to acknowledge the land that Tracy and I are both meeting on today, which is the land of the Yuggera and Turrbal people. Today as an extension of that, and because of the topic that we’re discussing, I would also just quickly like to mention an Aboriginal concept called Dadirri. And what Dadirri is about is about deep inner listening about deep inner listening to yourself and the space that you’re in. And so today, our topic is about self care, which I think relates exactly to Dadirri and that deep inner listening to yourself. So Tracy and I are both parents at very different ends of the parenting scale, I’m past the end of it, basically. So my son has grown, whereas Tracy has younger children. But we both come with very different ways of engaging in self care, and have learned that over time, and through experimenting and figuring these things out as we’ve gone along as well. So Tracy, let’s start to talk about what self care is and how we can achieve it.

Tracy (01:13):
Sure. So self care is basically ways and techniques to look after ourselves, so that we are able to be there for our families. So it is essentially ways to fill our bucket so that we can then help fill others which as you know, caregivers and families be you know, your dad or mom or guardian or you know, a foster carer, we all need ways to be sure that we are able to be emotionally and physically available for our children. And when we are stressed, when we are tired, when we are emotionally and physically exhausted, then it reduces our capacity to do that, and also has some quite serious effects for us personally, like not just our families. And so we just especially I guess, given the year that we have come out of 2021 now, so coming out of 2020, where there was different kinds of stresses placed on families and on us as individuals, we just thought that this was a topic to touch base on. So families, I guess we can build capacity within ourselves to then build capacity within our families.

Zoe (02:19):
And having been, you know, through all that parenting time, as a parent, it is really hard sometimes to put yourself first. But the importance of that is phenomenal. You know, if we’re not getting as Tracy just said, if we’re not getting our basic needs met, if we’re not fulfilling our cups, it becomes really hard to achieve anything useful when in relation to emotional regulation with a child. And moving forward with that. So we probably can’t stress enough how important it is to try and find time for yourself.

Tracy (02:56):
And it’s those simple things, what we nag our children to do, I’m constantly asking my daughter Have you had enough to drink today? Have you eaten at least a couple of pieces of fruit and things like that. And then you get to the end of the day and you’re like, well, actually, I haven’t stopped for water today, or things like that. And so it’s about, you know, a lot of it is the way I say it is that taking care of yourself, the way that you take care of your children is really, really important. So I guess that when we look at self care, we can sort of break it down into a few different areas. So you know, physically, we need to be looking after ourselves, emotionally, and then within our community. And that will look different for every person, what works for every person is very, very different. And even between, you know, for an example, my husband and I and our family, he is very much someone that needs a large amount of sleep, otherwise, he is not able to be the dad that he wishes to be. And it does affect him quite negatively. Whereas I can cope on less sleep. But it’s really, really important for me to get out and get some fresh air and really make sure that I’m eating healthy. That’s what helps me with my overall health.

Zoe (04:08):
Yeah, and Tracy and I, you know, in making our notes to do this podcast, we were just kind of reflecting on the fact that Tracy is quite extroverted, and I’m quite introverted. And the difference in what each of those things mean. So there’s no real right and wrong about self care. It’s about finding what you need to do.

Tracy (04:25):
Yeah, exactly. Right. And that I think even comes down to you know, for example, what Zoe and I choose to do for in terms of the physical thing, I know that so he’s a hardcore yoga fan and she likes to get her yoga in every morning. Whereas I couldn’t think of anything worse and I’d much prefer to take the dogs out for a walk and the kids on a scooter. So once again, with that physical thing, because it’s self care, doesn’t mean it has to be alone, doesn’t mean that you’re doing it by yourself. It’s just about getting out there and figuring out what works for you and what you feel better after doing.

Zoe (04:55):
And it’s also not about spending $200 at the day spa. Money doesn’t need to be a part of it. And I think sometimes people tend to feel like that’s part of it and get down that path. And then money becomes a barrier to doing some of these things. So try and think of coping mechanisms that will help you that sit outside of that, so that you don’t have to worry about the financial side of it.

Tracy (05:18):
Yeah. And I think that time is another one that probably impacts for a lot of families in terms of practicing self care, which is for why me exercise has to happen with the children, you know, so we all go out, because there is there’s no point in the day where I’d be able to leave them, you know, where I’m not working whatever to participate in any sort of other exercise. So it’s just being really, and look, most people would be aware of their need for those things. But I guess it’s about making it a priority, which can be difficult. But I guess we want to highlight in this podcast, that it is a priority, and it is something you need to be doing for you, for you to be there for your family. And, you know, because you’re important. I guess probably the next step and look, the physical, you know, your diet, your exercise, the amount of sleep you’re getting does then impact on your emotional health and your mental well being. I guess, it’s just being really aware of that thing. So obviously, if you are someone that has a mental health issue, making sure that you’re getting the appropriate support, help, you’re accessing resources out there to help you manage that, the best you can. And that, once again, will be something that’s individual to each person. But I guess it’s understanding that if you are not managing that, or if you are not coping, that you need to access help, so self care might just be simply the act of ringing up your GP, that might be your act of self care that day to reach out and get help or, you know, practicing the things that you have learnt in therapy or things like that, putting those things into into practice, you know, like, you know, meditation or deep breathing or mindfulness or whatever you’re doing.

Zoe (06:57):
And it is that reminder, again, that emotional learning does happen over a lifetime. It’s, you know, there are very few people who are totally emotionally able. Maybe the Dalai Lama.

Tracy (07:12):
And that the mental health will be impacted by external factors too. You know, so if you have just lost your job, then you know, mental health, your mental health may not be as robust as what it is at other times, when there’s not those external stresses occurring.

Zoe (07:28):
I’m pretty good at saying to myself, not today. That’s my little mantra, sometimes when I’m like, Oh, this is not the day for doing that. So then you put those things aside, and you have to be okay with saying no to things sometimes.

Tracy (07:39):
Yep, that’s tomorrow Tracy’s problem. And I guess, just being aware of that mental load, so I think that’s sort of the point that Zoe just, you know, some days, you don’t have the capacity to take on anymore, or, you know, it gets to a point that you do need to reach out to, you know, your partner, or if you are solo parenting to, you know, your friends, someone to unload on, they might not be able to do the things for you, or take on that mental load, but have that support to mentally unload onto somebody to be aware of it because it’s those 100 little things that you do throughout the day and have to remember that are quite can be quite taxing. So you know, sharing that as much as you possibly can, I think is really important. And then emotionally, you know, time for self for activities, experiences that you enjoy. And once again, Zoe, and I have a laugh, because, you know, I’m the textbook definition of an extrovert and she’s very much introverted. And so the way that we take time for self looks very, very different. You know, for me, my Friday afternoon, catch up with the moms from school, and the connecting with people at work every day is really, really important to fill my bucket, the day that I don’t have that connection, I do feel not myself.

Zoe (08:59):
For me, it’s being able to say no to doing those things. So no, I’m not gonna go out to that social event, because I know that it’s just going to be exhausting and not really helpful for my self care. I would much rather be at home, you know, reading a book or just going for a walk by myself.

Tracy (09:17):
Yeah. And so once again, you know, it’s nothing that involves money or anything like that. And even for you know, the time poor if you can arrange a play date, so your kids are using, you can catch up with a friend’s brilliant, you know, or even if you have a standing, you know, catch up with girlfriends once a month to give yourself something to look forward to in that connection. If you’re an extrovert, then that can be really special and really invigorating, I guess, make you feel like yourself again. And then I guess the last one was the community. So in order for us to, we all need to feel like we have a sense of belonging in the community where we’re in. So whether that’s in the Adeona community, whether that’s in your employment or if you’re self employed within the industry that you work in, you know, the people you work with, the school community, if you have children that are school aged, within a social group of friends, it’s really important that we feel like we belong. And then I guess, coming from that sense of belonging, and it’s something that is so important that it’s part of our national curriculum for the children is that they come in and have a sense of belonging, like that’s how important it is, for our overall well being is something that we call social capital. And basically, it’s that reflection on if you needed to, the amount of money is quite arbitrary, but let’s, for example, say, if you needed to get together $500, before the end of today, for whatever reason. Do you have people that you could ask to help you with that? And how many of those people do you have that you could reach out to? And that is an indication of your social capital, I guess. And I guess it’s really good just to sit back and reflect on that. And go, well, actually, I do have lots people that I feel comfortable reaching out to, that I could connect with that would help me if I was in trouble.

Zoe (11:09):
And I think we were talking about this and the fact that we talk about socio economics all the time, and what is the social economy, and it tends to get attached to money. But really what social capacity and social capital is talking about is the social side of it. So it’s the fact that you have a network that you can reach out to and rely on, if you are in a situation where you need extra help.

Tracy (11:34):
And that help may be the fact that you know you’ve had a day and you’re at the edge, and you need to call somebody and debrief and reach out. So I guess it’s to reflect on that and think of ways that you can build your social capital, that you could be that person for somebody else, I think is really important.

Zoe (11:51):
And even for an introvert, like me, having five key people to reach out to is fairly achievable.

Tracy (11:55):
Yes. No matter how antisocial you are. And I guess, you know, I sort of touched on it before, but those things that we went through at all things that we have some sort of control over to try and fill our own buckets, which is what we’re also trying to teach our children, you know, promote within our partners, all of those sorts of things. I do want to acknowledge, though, that sometimes there are external factors that really increase that pressure on us. And it makes it hard to be able to practice some of those things that we just spoke about, you know, when we’re having difficulties within our relationships, you know, especially separations, things like that, it can be really, really hard. And that’s where that social capital is really important. Financial difficulties said through 2020, it saw a lot of people’s employment sort of experience some upheaval, uncertainty for sure. And you know, because it impacts so many people, domestic violence, things like that, and, and also, you know, mental health conditions, whether you are the person who has a mental health condition or is supporting somebody who has one, it’s extremely, it can be extremely difficult. And you know, there’s sometimes factors there that you don’t have a lot of control over. And that’s when practicing what you do have control over becomes incredibly important and reaching out for help. And as I mentioned before, sometimes self care is reaching out for hlep. You know, and I guess I’d like to take this point to stress to you that Adeona, if you’re listening to this podcast, then Adeona is part of your community, a part of your social network, and that we are always here to help you as best we can or point you in the right direction of where you can get help. In saying that, I would like to just mention a few places where people can get help if they find that they are struggling with any of these areas. But once again, your director, your service director, will be able to point you in the direction of some more localized services if you should need them. But one really good resource that I would recommend parents look at if they need to, is the Family Child Connect. We’ll put the website and the phone number in the show notes. And we might put a Facebook post up with them as well. Family Child Connect is a Queensland Government website. It’s a government website, where anybody can, with families or you know, guardians, can reach out have a look. And there’s a whole heap of resources and numbers to call and government departments you can call that range from parenting advice. If you think that you have a child that may have additional needs. If you’re experiencing or suspect someone you know is experiencing domestic violence. If you’re having some financial difficulty or you need financial counseling, things like that, substance abuse help, housing, I think there’s a department there if you need some help with housing. So it’s a really great resource to reach out to and have a look at if you are experiencing anything and it’s always the first sort of point of call for us as directors to have a look at if we know that families are experiencing any sort of difficulty. Obviously there’s lifeline and Beyond Blue. And we’d always encourage people to also reach out to their GP, if they are experiencing any, any health issues. You know, there are government programs out there to access psychologists, things like that. And we always encourage people to just reach out to however they can. And if that is us, where we can help you, we will.

Zoe (15:28):
Just a reminder to everyone that the importance of self care, it is extremely important, like Tracy said at the beginning, you know, it’s been a really tough year that we’ve currently just gone through. And I think we’ve still got a little way to go. At the beginning of all of this, we mentioned to our families at Adeona that, you know, there’s a lot of grief that comes with some of these things, and all of these things that we’ve talked about today around relationships and anytime that there’s a big amount of loss in your life, and it becomes a lot harder to self care. So just you know, take care of yourself.

Tracy (16:02):
Be gentle, be compassionate on yourself, and know that there are people out there, willing and able and ready to help. Thanks, Tracy.