When we become parents we automatically change gears from focusing on our own desires and needs and instead immerse ourselves in the task of concentrating on whatever it takes to care for our family.
As our children grow and reach new milestones, it’s so easy to tie our identity and our value to their successes and failures. Our parental pride wells to magnificent proportions when they achieve a new skill such as learning to tie their own shoes or reach a lofty goal such as graduating cum laude from college. And yet, when challenges such as learning difficulties or not being accepted by peers arise, we hunker down in the emotional trenches of parenting and feel every bit of their pain.
In doing this, our self-esteem can take a toll, because our focus is no longer on ourselves but on our family and household first. And while that’s certainly normal and admirable that’s really not good for us or for our children because one of the best gifts we can give to our kids is to be role models of a healthy individual who exudes confidence and has a strong and positive self-image.
Today I’m sharing six ways you can stay motivated and maintain a healthy self-esteem even during your busiest years of being a parent.
How to Maintain Self-Esteem as a Busy Parent
- Tip #1: Stay Groomed
- Tip #2: Nix the Negative Self-Talk
- Tip #3: Smile!
- Tip #4: Don’t Compete With Others
- Tip #5: Identify Your Gifts
- Tip #6: Stay Organized
We’ll take a closer look at each.
Tip #1. Stay Groomed
We adopted our first child as a newborn so while I was excitedly facing all kinds of amazing new emotions becoming a first-time mom after such a long struggle with infertility, my body didn’t physically experience the journey of a nine-month pregnancy. That said, though I was tired from those 2 AM feedings, I still had lots more energy than most new moms because my body wasn’t recovering from childbirth.
This allowed me to keep up with most of my regular beauty routines: blow drying my hair every morning, putting on make-up, dressing in my favorite outfits, staying on top of my mani/pedis…I even ironed most mornings! Even though I had a beautiful newborn, I presented like I was heading off to my job as the office manager of a dental practice when in fact, I was staying at home with our baby. 12 months later, I delivered a healthy baby boy and now had two kids under the age of 15 months. The blow dryer and I didn’t see one another for months and my go-to outfit was a pair of my husband’s sweatpants and any stained, over-sized t-shirt I could find. This didn’t bode well for my self-esteem one bit, so I began to force myself to do my hair and make-up (lipstick counts!) every morning and wore clothes that were mine, not my husbands. I immediately felt so much better about myself. An instant boost in your self-esteem is staying groomed, and it’s definitely something you can control on most days.
Tip #2: Nix the Negative Self-Talk
Did you ever stop and take notice of the inner dialogue you have with yourself? As a writer and a woman who tends to overcommit herself, I can’t tell you how many conversations I have with myself on a daily basis. These talks vary from what recipe I’m going to try for dinner to how I’m feeling about the new guy in the deli who slices my meat just the right way.
Of course, there’s also conversations about what the heck was I thinking about getting my hair cut with bangs when I have such a round face or why would I steal candy from my son’s Halloween haul. (C’mon, you know you can relate!) This dialogue is better known as negative self-talk and is never in your best interest.
Much of our thinking is so automatic and happening so rapidly that we barely notice it before we move on to the next thought, but when that little voice in our minds starts cranking out damaging and destructive self-criticism we have to get a handle on it and nip it in the bud.
Train yourself to dismiss the bad thoughts and instead replace them with a positive thought. For example, instead of framing my new haircut with “I can’t believe I went back to bangs with such a round face,” instead tilt the perspective with, “I like how my new bangs showcase my big, brown eyes.” It’s a much kinder statement and much better at building self-esteem, especially when you get in the habit of nixing the negative and replacing it with something positive.
Tip #3: Smile!
One quick and easy way to improve how you feel about yourself is to make the conscious effort to smile! Make eye contact with strangers in the grocery store and flash them a warm and friendly smile. When you pass by a mirror, smile at yourself! Smile when you’re talking on the phone, it automatically sends a friendly vibe. Smiling is a tiny gesture that can have a ripple effect with those you come in contact with. A confident person is able to smile in nearly any situation almost like a magnetic reaction drawing others towards you because of it.
Tip #4: Don’t Compete With Others
One way to cripple your perception of yourself is by comparing your life to someone else’s. With the long arms and growing influence of social media, it’s easier than ever to read posts and look at photos showcasing how wonderful another’s life seems to be. Do yourself a favor and don’t believe everything you see or hear when it comes to the successes and triumphs of friends and acquaintances. Instead, practice gratitude for what’s going well in your own life and appreciate your own family, your health, your pets, your job, your favorite brownie, and anything else that makes you feel great. The more you count your blessings, the healthier your self-image will become.
Tip #5: Identify Your Gifts
We all have our strengths and weaknesses. I’m wonderful with words but not so good with numbers. My best friend can decorate like Martha Stewart but can’t find her way around the kitchen. Recognize what your strengths are and the feelings of confidence that exude because of them, especially during a time you’re feeling pretty low.
Psychotherapist Kristie Overstreet, LPCC, CST, CAP, suggests asking yourself, “Was there a time in your life where you had better self-esteem? What were you doing at that stage of your life?” If it’s difficult for you to identify your unique gifts, ask a friend to point them out to you. Sometimes it’s easier for others to see the best in us than it is for us to see it in ourselves.
When you manage to keep both yourself and your home organized you naturally feel more positive about yourself.
Tip #6: Stay Organized
Today’s parents are juggling more activities, obligations, work commitments, and family matters than ever before. With life continually getting busier, there is one thing that can make the difference between a crazed, insecure, harried demeanor and a calm, cool and confident one—organization!
When you manage to keep both yourself and your home organized you naturally feel more positive about yourself because it feels good to have a sense of order in your life. According to Shape, a study conducted from Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found people with cluttered homes, or homes filled with unfinished projects, were more depressed, fatigued and had higher cortisol levels than those who had their living space in order. Therefore, after decluttering and organizing, you should feel happier with yourself and more relaxed.
How do you keep your self-esteem in tact? Share your thoughts in the comments section.