Looking after yourself

Your toddler needs a healthy, happy you. Look after yourself, not just your toddler. You and your kids will benefit if you can put yourself first occasionally.

Take a break

"When Mike comes back from work I make a cup of tea and we take 10 minutes to talk about our day." Maxine, 25, mum to Hope, 13 months and Jasper, three.

Learn to switch off. Being a mum or dad for an entire day takes loads of concentration. Taking a few minutes to chat with your partner, friends or family can put a long day in perspective. While you’re at it, why not listen to some music, read a magazine, or catch up with your favourite TV programme.

Find some spare time

"I can’t afford a baby-sitter so I got together with some other mums in my area to form a baby-sitting circle. We use ‘tokens’ to pay each other. I use the time to go for a swim." Marie, 23, mum to Lucy, eight months and Kate, 20 months.

Choose one thing you’d like to do for yourself over the next week and make some time to do it. It could be a trip to the cinema, a drink with a friend, getting stuck into a good book or having a relaxing soak in a warm bath. You might like to also allocate some kid-free zones in your house – even if it’s just a corner of your bedroom.

Reprioritise

"My Mum told me to learn to live with a bit of mess. It doesn’t matter if the house is a bit untidy. It was the best advice I ever had." Claire, 34, mum to Ali, Jake, 32 months and Lee, five.

Just say no! Before you take on anything new this week, ask yourself if it will benefit you and your family. If the answer is ‘no’, don’t do it. There’s no need to feel guilty – you’ve got enough on your plate as it stands.

Share it and find solutions

Two heads are better than one. If things get on top of you, have a brainstorming session with your partner, mum or sister, and look for mother and toddler groups where problems can be shared.

A problem shared is a problem halved. Accept that you don’t have to be great at everything, don’t be afraid to ask for help and take any help that is offered.

Remember that help is just around the corner

Help might even be next door. Neighbours, friends, and family can all help you with the everyday problems that crop up when you’re looking after a little one. The most important thing to remember is that you’re not alone.

A helping hand. There are also a multitude of agencies to help you with more complex problems. NHS24 is great for accurate medical advice. One Parent Families Scotland provides financial advice that all parents will find handy, as does your local Citizens Advice Bureau. Alternatively, you can contact the Lone Parent Helpline on 0808 801 0323. Scottish Marriage Care gives excellent relationship advice. The Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA)can help you pick a suitable carer. Visit our full list of helpful organisations.

Stay fit and healthy

How healthy is your diet? When did you last take any exercise? Are you getting enough good sleep? Think about how to make changes to improve your own wellbeing.

Do you need help to stop smoking? You can call Smokeline between 8.00 am and 10.00 pm (free helpline) seven days a week on 0800 84 84 84, or visit www.canstopsmoking.com which offers 24-hour online support and web chat.

Better for you, better for your tot. Going for a run or preparing veggies to go with your pasta might seem like an extra hassle – but exercise and a good diet are closely linked to better mental health. And a good night’s sleep (whenever possible) can make a world of difference.

When it’s more than just a bad day

You should talk to your health visitor or doctor

  • if you’re finding every day a struggle
  • if you feel constantly depressed, anxious or exhausted
  • if you’ve felt suicidal.

None of these emotions are a poor reflection on you – or your ability as a parent. Depression, anxiety, and exhaustion are problems that can be resolved, but you need to talk about them.

You might also like to check out the Scottish Government’s Steps for Stress website. It contains a section specifically for parents.


Last updated: 15 October 2015
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