Struggling with Self-Care? What You Need to Do First

Guest Post by Christopher White, MD Founder of Essential Parenting and co-author of Mindful Discipline.  - See more at:
Guest Post by Jessica Felix, Parent Coach. Follow her Facebook page Early Endeavors.
Guest Post by Christopher White, MD Founder of Essential Parenting and co-author of Mindful Discipline.  - See more at:

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Maybe you’ve heard the term “self-care” over and over again as you’ve sought parenting, wellness or life balance advice.

You try to fit it in – feeling more guilt for missing it than for feeding your kids fast food or sugary cereal!

Self-care seems to be this elusive ideal.

Like if you really had it together as a parent, you’d be able to weave self-care smoothly into your daily routine and, everything would be easier and more satisfying.

The problem is that when we focus on self-care first we are putting on blinders to the real need that we have as parents.
It isn’t enough for us to strive for self-care and wellness.

I know – you don’t need one more thing to do!

But hear me out. This one tip will make that elusive balance issue practically obsolete. We need to focus on our own acceptance of -

  • our flaws and faults
  • our shortcomings and our unique gifts
  • where we’re at now even as we acknowledge that we won’t be “here” forever.
What we want to give freely to our kids is what we need to give ourselves first. We can’t easily give acceptance if we haven’t experienced it.

Self-acceptance has to come along with self-care for our changes to be lasting and permanent. If we aren’t accepting ourselves as we truly are then, we are sending ourselves subconscious messages that we are not worthy of care.

This is why self-care routines don’t last.

This is why we start out taking care of our needs for a few days or weeks and then taper off. Because we believe that we are being selfish. We believe that others are more deserving of our care than we are.

I want you to know that your needs are important. I want you to walk away from reading this with new eyes for your own value.

There are three beautiful outcomes from learning how to accept ourselves fully - just as we are.

First, self-acceptance allows you to love yourself unconditionally.

No strings, no need to change one little thing about who you are.

This kind of love gives you permission just to BE. It also means that you are fully allowed to do things differently because you aren’t your actions – past, present or future.

For example, my friends and family know that I am late more often than I am on time or early. But this doesn’t mean that I can’t move away from this – it doesn’t get to define who I am.

I can shift and change without labeling this behavior as bad. I can be on time or early without beating myself up about the times that I am late. I’ve given myself the ability to try again because I accept the way that I am right now.

Another gift that self-acceptance gives you is awareness.

So often I hear parents that I work with say, “I would love to work on accepting myself more, but I really don’t even know this “self” that I’m supposed to be accepting!”

When we first learn about self-acceptance it may seem easy on the surface to just decide to like who we are. But, we get tied up in all of our experiences, preferences, and abilities that we don’t really know who we are at all. starts with getting rid of all of that noise and focusing on our inner voice. Click to Tweet!

We limit ourselves when we categorize and qualify our actions and experiences. Instead, acceptance lets you choose what you do, how you do it, and if you want to do it at all!

Getting to know who we are, what we enjoy, what we dislike and the fact that those preferences can – and will – change is part of the self-acceptance journey.

Self-awareness teaches you to love yourself in the now without needing to hold on to that identity any longer than it suits you.

The third gift that self-acceptance gives you is the ability to give and receive love freely. 

Without acceptance, respect, love and kindness for ourselves, it is so difficult – almost painful at times – to give these crucial things to others.

You no longer fear rejection, resentment or ridicule for your decisions (parenting and beyond) because you KNOW yourself so well. 

Since you deeply approve of you, you aren’t busy seeking approval from others. This is where you can live in synergy with your kids and family. You’re only desire is to live authentically.

Self-acceptance is an ongoing journey of discovery. It is opening up yourself to more. You get more of the good and sometimes the bad. You get more people who understand you and more people who may not.

The most important thing is that you have moved through those feelings of rejection and being unacceptable – that point where you couldn’t take care of yourself because you felt unworthy.

Now it’s not about worth. It’s about staying present with who you are, your needs and desires. It’s not about who comes first because you can expertly weave your care and theirs together. And you realize that sometimes you won’t because you can’t.

And that’s okay too.

It is not enough to give ourselves the self-care pep talk every three months. It’s not enough to plan for physical care and emotional refilling of our cups. But you, you are enough.

When we reach a point where we can see the beauty in ourselves right along with the ugly – and still think we’re pretty darn great – then we’re able to take care ourselves the way we were meant to be taken care of.

Watch these videos NEXT:

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  About the the Author

Jessica Felix is a parent coach living in beautiful Washington State. She helps parents transform their relationships with their kids into peaceful, joyful interactions. Parents work with Jessica through her free e-courses and one-on-one consulting. She enjoys speaking to audiences about how to raise happy, confident kids without punishment, rewards or yelling. With 3 kids, Jessica has all the inspiration she needs to keep her blog as busy as her family!  Jessica lives in constant fear of yarn taking over her house, so she knits as much as possible each day. You can connect with Jessica on her Facebook page. Get a daily parenting recharge with Jessica’s free 30 Days to Calm Parenting E-Course.

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