Mary Goodarzi headshotIn order to support their child’s growth and resilience, parents and caregivers must also identify opportunities to hold space for themselves. Resident child psychologist Dr. Mary Goodarzi offers some ways you can create space for yourself throughout a busy day of parenting for a moment of self care.

As a caregiver, so much is expected of you, and you may place so many expectations on yourself as well. There’s always so much to do that once things pile up, the smallest thing may cause you to feel that everything spills over, making you feel like you’re completely losing it.

Not you? Maybe it’s just me then. ☺

There is so much asked of us, and what can help is to release the expectation of what NEEDS to be done, and rather focus on what CAN be done. What will keep my family calm and happy for our day?

The mantra we tell ourselves will also become our inner voice and lead our day,  similar in how we talk to our children becomes their inner voice. Do not put too much emphasis and pressure on trying to get it all done. What gets done is enough. And that, my friends, is perfectly fine.

Just as I speak to holding space for your child, you must do the same for yourself. Our child’s meltdown/tantrum/behavioral outburst is a powerful moment to remind ourself to utilize our coping skills to remain calm in order to model for our child how to regulate themselves.

It is important to prioritize your self care and to not feel guilty about doing so. Self-care activities could be anything from setting 10 minutes aside for yourself to enjoy a warm cup of coffee, to going to a workout class, to taking a long stroll with friends or by yourself. In order for you to be the best version of yourself – both for you and as a caregiver – you must adhere to your individual needs and care.

I do know that the hardest thing to do is to remain calm or hold space while your child is in the peak of their meltdown. Sometimes, it like every ounce of patience is thrown out the window to the point where you feel like the only thing you feel you can do is SCREAM. Trust me, I’ve done it— I’ve lost my cool many times. And coming from experience, all that it does is escalate the situation even more. It riles your child up to tantrum even more, and if you have any other children, it will dysregulate them as well—and then complete chaos will ensue.

It’s helpful to create a mantra for yourself in those moments. Put everything down, walk a few steps away and try the following:

Take a deep breath and say out loud: “I can do this, just take a deep breath in, and out. I can do this.”  When you say this out loud, you will hear it, and so will your child who is having the difficulty regulating—it will model positive coping strategies for them, as well.  At that point, you’ll be able to go into the next step of assisting them in regulating their body—perhaps while visualizing your sweet moment of self care later.  

Dr. Mary Goodarzi is a Southern California-area child psychologist and a Piper+Enza expert contributor.