We don’t necessarily say it out loud, but parenthood can be draining. There’s even research that proves it can lead to parental burnout, which is characterized by exhaustion, emotional detachment, and inefficacy. That’s why it’s crucial what works as self-care for you. To take good care of others, you first need to take care of yourself.
When we think of self-care, it’s often connected to mindfulness, pampering, and alone-time. But there’s one thing we tend to overlook, and it’s perhaps one of the most important forms of self-care: being selective about the people we choose to surround ourselves with. Your friends and family can affect your life in significant ways, so shouldn’t you be more discerning about the people you welcome into your circle?
Jess Johnston, a blogger and a writer for various parenting websites in the United States, say, “friendship is the most important form of self-care you can invest in.” In her blog, she says no amount of shopping, pampering, vacationing, and even therapy can come close to it.
Nine years ago, Jess and her husband were going through a dark time in their life. They had gone through two miscarriages and was betrayed by someone close to them. Jess said she wanted to reach out to other people but had no idea how to go about it.
A year later, the couple decided they needed to step out of their comfort zones and be intentional about making friends. Soon enough, they found a group whom they call “our people.”
“‘Our ‘people’ were the kind we could have over when we were still in sweats and had made baked potatoes for dinner. They were the kind that we could laugh really hard with and also be real with,” she writes on her blog.
Through the years, these friendships only grew stronger. They traveled together, had game nights, and shared many meals with each other. And when Jess went through a trying time, her people were there for her when she needed them the most. “They didn’t need an explanation or a reason; they were just there. We had three years of friendship that led us to that moment,” she says.
When one of her best friends suffered a miscarriage, Jess was able to return the favor. “Two of us lit candles and held her hand through one of the most terrible losses of her life,” she shares.
Jess says that friendship is an essential investment because she believes people are not meant to navigate through life without support. “You were never meant to grieve alone; you were never meant to celebrate alone. You were meant to be seen. It’s all too hard and too wonderful to do it alone,” she writes.
Jess also says that a real friendship entails give-and-take. It may seem hard to be there for someone else emotionally when, as a mom, you already have a lot of things on your plate, but you are so much more than being just a parent.
“You’re meant to be seen to your very soul and to be loved for who you are (who you really are). You’re meant to be loved as a whole person — flaws and gifts and everything in between,” Jess writes. “The only way I know how to find this kind of love is to give it. The only way to grow this kind of love is to invest in it.”
Self-care is all about you — loving yourself and paying attention to yourself. When you extend this to friendship, it can help ease the burdens associated with parenting.
Studies have proven that we need human connections outside of our family, which can significantly benefit our physical and mental wellness. It can help our children’s growth and development, too! If your friends can nurture this connection by having your best interests at heart, cheering for your accomplishments like it were their own, and giving you tough love at times so you can be the best version of yourself, don’t you think that’s a good return for your investment?