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Self-care tips for parents

If you’ve ever flown on a commercial plane, you may have heard the flight crew recommend: “In case of emergency, put on your oxygen mask first before helping others with theirs.” For parents, self-care is that oxygen mask—to be the best parent you can be, sometimes you have to put yourself first. 

What is self-care?

 Self-care is taking active steps to maintain your physical, mental, and emotional health. 
Neglecting your self-care, in any of those areas, can hamper quality of life, reduce your personal and professional performance, and even harm your mood and relationships. 
For parents, keeping up with self-care can be a challenge. Kids seem to take all the time and energy you have to give, and many parents struggle with feelings of guilt when prioritizing themselves. It’s understandable to put your needs on the back burner, but recognizing how important self-care is for yourself and your family can help everyone thrive. 

Self-care tips for parents with newborn babies

Here are some areas to help you focus on you as you adjust to parenthood: 
  • Sleep when your baby sleeps 
  • Ask family or close friends for help 
  • Hire a housecleaning service to help 
  • Buy healthy dinners from a local meal prep service 

Self-care tips to help maintain your well-being

Sometimes it may feel impossible, but taking care of you is important. Here are some ways to practice self-care—both big and small: 
Physical health  
  • There are times when it can feel tough to get enough sleep, but keeping it a priority can make a big difference.  
  • Try to stay active when you can, even if it’s just taking a walk—anything is better than nothing.  
  • Remember your nutrition, and be sure to drink enough water—dehydration can amplify your fatigue.  
  • Soak in some sunshine. Spending time in the sun can help boost vitamin D levels, improve sleep, and even brain chemistry.1 
  • Don’t skip routine health care, like annual checkups, dental cleanings, and screenings. 
  • Remember that you’re modeling healthy habits. When kids see their parents keeping up with their self-care, they’re much more likely to build those habits for themselves. 
 Mental and emotional health 
  • Don’t compare yourself to other parents. They might look perfect on social media, but all families have challenges. 
  • Communication is key. Talking about your needs with your partner, family, and friends can be challenging at times, but it gets easier the more you keep at it. 
  • Parenting causes ongoing changes over time, so it’s a good idea to revisit your budget and goals regularly along the way. 
  • If you get paid time off, take full advantage of it. 48% of US workers don’t use all their PTO.2 
  • It can be easy for your own interests to take a back seat to your family’s needs. It’s OK to put yourself first at times and stay connected to things you love to do. 
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself and those around you. Things are going to be tough, but most challenges are temporary—set realistic expectations, and try your best to take setbacks in stride.   
  • Ask for help. There’s an old African proverb that says: “It takes a village to raise a child.” Parenting isn’t something most people can expect to do totally on their own, so it’s OK to lean on family, friends, neighbors, online support groups, and even professional help. 

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NYT: Parenting

Helpful parenting resources from the New York Times.
1. Amberlee Lovell Peterson, “7 Health Benefits of Sunlight,” Select Health, July 7, 2020, 2. Matthew Boyle, “Less Than Half of US Workers Use All Their Vacation Days,” Bloomberg, March 30, 2023,

This information is general in nature and provided for educational purposes only.