Do you find yourself struggling every day? Are you one of those parents who always seems to be out of batteries? Do you find that stress and anxiety are getting in the way of you actually being the best to your kids?
Raising a family is by no means easy–especially in this pandemic. Every day parents are bombarded with messages that affect their minds and bodies in more ways than we can imagine; messages that affect everyone to their very core and affect every aspect of what they do. When left unchecked, these effects can have a long-lasting impact not just on parents, but their kids as well.
But there is something that we can do to help address this. Self-care is a practice that many parents tend to neglect in their struggle to keep their family happy and thriving. More than a necessity, many see it as an act of selfishness–when in reality, this cannot be farther from the truth.
I was recently granted a chance to interview Thara Natalie, and immediately, when I learned about it, I knew I wanted to speak to her about helping parents embrace self-care. Thara is a former singer turned yoga studio owner and teacher. She is also a health coach and a Karuna Reiki healer. And she also happens to be the mother of two. As someone who is no stranger to parenting, and has been teaching yoga and meditation for more than 12 years, I wanted to know her take on parents learning to care for themselves.
As a mother, what has been the most important thing you have done to take care of your well being?
First thing’s first. As a mother, I learned early on that it’s still very important for me to take care of myself. I always loved yoga and meditation and quiet time, which can be hard when your babies come along. But I realized that I can’t sacrifice that time for me. It definitely looks different than it used to, but I still need it and I’m willing to ask for help so I can get it. Simply put, it’s acknowledging that you need care too, and taking active steps to make sure that you get that.
Since for you, self-care is an absolute necessity, are there distractions, disruptions, and other noises that you’ve faced that specifically stopped you from caring for yourself?
I think we’ve faced everything this year from home schooling, to meals needing to be made, to laundry being done. Throw in all of the global crisis issues, and focusing on yourself gets even harder. It has definitely been an uphill climb to stay centered this year. But again, going back to the first question, we all need to realize that self-care, even for parents, is a necessity rather than a luxury. We all need it. Don’t feel guilty if you ask your husband to take care of the kids for two hours while you do something that makes you grow, feel alive, and makes you just happy.
And while we’re at it, I want to remind everyone how important silence is, especially when we’re trying to juggle multiple tasks and feel a bit overwhelmed. Turn off the TV, turn off social media, and get clear on what is really a priority. Some things are musts while other things can be left for another day. Doing this will help you feel less overwhelmed and will help you better focus on the things that need to be done.
Do you think that setting up boundaries is important for parents?
Boundaries are so important! Ask for help when you need it. Say ‘no’ when you’re maxed out. Don’t pick up the phone to a call that you know will drain you. No one else can protect your energy. You have to do it. Save it for what’s important and don’t let things that aren’t important take away from you.
You’ve always been very often about how yoga has helped you through the different stages of your life. Why is yoga good for one’s well being? Is this something that you’d recommend to parents?
Definitely. I’d recommend it to anyone. Yoga is so special for so many reasons. One of those reasons is its ability to tune out the noise. It’s one of the very few things that allows you to be fully present in the present. When I’m doing yoga, I’m not thinking of my to-do list. I’m not responding to texts. I’m not watching a show in the background. I am just there on my mat, fully present and aware of myself and my surroundings. Not many things allow you that level of presence. Of course, there are tons of physical benefits as well, but for me it’s about the connection that I get with myself when I’m doing yoga. Pausing. Listening to your thoughts and body. Breathing. The pace that we are forced to live by these days can be quite damaging. It’s important to slow down and connect with yourself. I have so much more clarity and connection with others when I’m taking care of myself with yoga.
How have your practices influenced the way that your kids and husband think of and approach self-care?
My seven year old, Ayva, loves meditating and doing yoga with me. I am so happy that I have already been able to share these tools with her. My two year old just likes to bang on the signing bowls at the moment but I’m sure he’ll join in soon! It took my hubby 12 years to finally want to know what all this yoga fuss was about. He asked how it’s helped me stay in such a good mood around the house. I told him to just come and practice yoga with me. He did and has been hooked since. I can’t believe it took him so long to start, but everyone finds their mat when they’re meant to so I’m just glad he finally got there.
For those concerned about taking care of themselves–especially parents who see self-care as a selfish act–what is a piece of advice that you can give them?
Just do it. You can’t pour from an empty cup. You need to take care of yourself so you can care for others. Whatever you are doing for your family, you will do it better when you’re taken care of too. No matter how hard it may feel to carve out the time for yourself, you must do it and make it a priority.
Lastly, what are some new ways you are taking care of yourself these days?
Sometimes it’s something as simple as going to bed a half an hour earlier with a cup of chamomile tea and whatever book I’m currently reading. A little quiet time enjoying something that nourishes my mind feels so good. Today, I actually booked myself a massage at a local spa. We hold so much tension in our bodies and it’s very important to release it. But I know that not everyone has the luxury of time to do these things.
The point is, find something that makes you feel good and do it because you deserve it and you should never feel guilty about it! “Momming” is a full time job. If people at corporate offices get lunch and coffee breaks while at work, why shouldn’t you? You need breaks too. Taking time for yourself is guaranteed to help improve your productivity and put you in a better place.
As Thara mentioned, it’s important for people to understand that taking care of oneself is a necessity. You are born in this world to live, and not just survive. However tough things get, remember that you are worth the time, effort, and money you invest in you. To learn more about Thara and how she helps her clients go deeper and make shifts in the body, mind, and spirit, you may visit her website, www.SpiritWarriorNation.com, or follow her Instagram and Facebook accounts (@TharaNatalie).