Why It's Good for Kids to See You Take Time for Yourself

Why it's good for kids to see that you have your own needs, just like they do

Why parents should take time for themselves
Tired? Why you should take time for yourself before you get run down. Getty Images/Westend61

Years ago, I met a mom who regularly read to her kids until her voice was hoarse. While reading to kids and spending quiet time with them is certainly a good thing, having her kids expect mom to do this for them every day was not. (Not surprisingly, her children ended up expecting mom and dad to do everything for them all the time, and the parents happily complied, which led to the kids becoming spoiled, unpleasant, unpopular, and generally unhappy kids.)

Doing too much for my child is an issue I've struggled with myself. You know that old adage about putting the oxygen mask on yourself first, before you help your child? If I'm being honest, that's definitely not my first instinct. But the fact is, there are many reasons why always putting your own needs aside is not good--for your kids nor for you.

Why Parents Should Take Care of Themselves

Kids need to know that you have needs, just like they do. Children are naturally self-centered; understanding and appreciating the fact that other people have their own needs is an important part of growing up. It encourages kids to develop empathy, and think about other people, not just their own needs and wants. These are important life skills kids will need their whole lives, as they make friends and one day, have a family of their own.

Children need independence. Doing too much for kids means that they aren't doing enough for themselves.

As parents, our job is not only to give kids what they need, but to provide them with the tools to eventually do things for themselves, like keeping track of their school assignments, cook and clean, and become independent thinkers. When parents do too much and constantly make sure only their children's needs are met and sacrifice their own, it's more helicoptering than helping, and is not good for a child's development.

Getting and expecting too much spoils kids. Do you really want to live with kids who constantly expect that they get what they want when they want it? If ever there was a recipe for raising spoiled, entitled, and unpleasant kids, that would be it.

They will be kinder people. It's not surprising that kids who are spoiled, demanding, and unaware or uncaring about other people's needs have trouble making and keeping friends. Kids who understand that it's important to balance the needs of friends and family with their own will be much nicer and kinder, and will grow up to be good people.

You'll gain their respect. What kind of a role model do you want to be for your child? Do you want to show her that you are a person who has her own thoughts, feelings, and hobbies, and enjoys accomplishing things that don't have anything to do with being a mom or a wife? When your kids see you enjoy friendships, an occasional night out with your spouse, or a goal or project you set your mind to and accomplish yourself, it will reinforce a view of you as an individual person whose happiness isn't entirely dependent on her kids.


You'll be less exhausted. There are many things good parents do--discipline, teach kids to be grateful, show their kids that they love them every day--but running oneself into the ground isn't on the list. Being a good parent means meeting your own needs as well as those of your children and having enough energy to have fun, laugh, and be happy with your kids.

You'll have more time for friends, your spouse, your marriage--and yourself. When parents balance time for themselves with time for family, they'll be healthier and happier. Make time for workouts, even if all you have is a few minutes here and there. Try to find time to exercise, go for walks with friends to stay healthy physically and emotionally, and do what works for you to feel good and look good. You may even want to consider going on a vacation with just the girls (or in the case of dads, just the guys). And make sure you stay connected with your partner in small ways every single day to keep your marriage strong and healthy.

Once you take care of yourself, you'll be much more happy, healthy, and ready to get right back into taking care of your family. But this time, you'll have the energy!

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