Many parents sacrifice their own needs for their kids. They’ll go without comforts or even necessities so that they can help their kids as much as possible. This is noble. It’s a way of loving their kids and, possibly, providing for their kids in ways they wish they had experienced as kids themselves. I’ve met so many parents who grew up in poverty or had tough family situations, and these parents want to give a better childhood to their kids. So, they make sacrifices.

There can be a problem with sacrificing for your kids —you can take it too far. Especially if you are neglecting your physical and mental health because of money, time constraints, or being too busy taking care of everyone but yourself. If that sounds like you, I want you to know that you might need to change your approach. Sacrificing your health is a tradeoff that usually does not pay off in the end. Why?

Your kids need you to be healthy. If you do not take care of yourself, you will not be able to take care of them. What’s worse, when your physical and mental health ultimately break down, they will have to take care of you. Lastly, if you are struggling because of your physical and mental health, you are more likely to be irritable and lose control of your anger and anxiety, which can negatively affect your relationship with your kids.

Your emotions are valid. And, frankly, sometimes kids are quite naughty and rude, but when you lose control of your emotions, it becomes much harder to parent. It often leaves you feeling miserable and, sometimes, depressed and guilty. So, while your emotions are valid, not all expressions of emotions are. And when you blow up at your kids, especially if it becomes a pattern, it harms your relationship with them.

Thankfully, there are some basic steps in self-care that you can take to help you get better control of your emotions.



If you find that you frequently are irritable (snapping at or criticizing others) or that you are exploding in anger, this is a sign that it’s time to take a step back and look at some of the drivers of anger and irritability. Or, maybe you don’t think that you are having problems but then you hear this from one of your kids or loved ones:

  • “You’re always yelling” or “You’re always mad at me.”
  • “You only come to talk to me about negative things.”
  • “You always have a migraine.”
  • “You’re never here” or “You’re always at work.”
  • “You’re always in bed depressed or in pain.”
  • “You drink too much” or “You’re high all the time.”

If the people in your life are giving you this type of feedback, you are overdue for self-care. It’s time to take a deep breath, listen, and decide to take positive action in your physical and mental health—because the important people in your life are telling you that it’s taking a toll on your relationship with them. Besides, parenting is a lot of work. Your job as a parent should not always be to give, give, give. Taking care of yourself must be one of your top priorities.



It takes a lot of energy to be a parent, so it’s important to regularly take time to care for yourself and restore your energy and your outlook. You can improve your sense of well-being, and self-care will help you to feel your best. What gives you the most energy in life? Here is just a short list of things you might consider doing to nurture yourself:

  • Get enough sleep
  • Exercise
  • Embrace solitude through alone time
  • Pray or meditate
  • Spend time in positive social activities
  • Engage in activities that make you smile/laugh
  • Schedule (and then take) a vacation
  • Get a massage
  • Relax in a sauna, hot tub, or bath
  • Get out into nature
  • Sing or play music
  • Read for pleasure

Do any of these activities appeal to you? Is there something else you would add to this list? I would encourage you to write down your own list of five or more activities that routinely lift you up. When you are feeling low, demoralized, or frustrated, it’s probably time for you to pick something from the list and do a restorative activity.



If some of the problems you are facing are not easily solved with regular self-care, then I would encourage you to start taking proactive, incremental steps to address whatever situation you are facing. I realize that solving some of these problems might not be easy, but, as a starting point, you could meet with your primary care physician if you are having a health problem or a therapist/counselor if you are struggling with your mood or anxiety. Getting help from a trusted person is a great way to start finding solutions or making progress in complex situations. The goal is to take the first step and push past avoidance of change when you know you need to fix a problem.

Taking care of yourself is a great starting point for controlling your emotions in parenting, and you’ll love the results. You will be a happier person, and all of your relationships will likely be better. n


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