Why a self-care routine is important for your son
It’s easy to forget that our daily routines of washing, dressing, and eating healthy food are all acts of self-care; steps taken to maintain or improve our physical, emotional and mental health.
Self-care also encompasses time taken socialising, ‘me time’, sport, family outings and any other activity that relaxes, refuels and reboots us.
Looking after ourselves is integral to improving our mood and reducing our stress, allowing us to be more effective parents. Instilling self-care routines in our boys can also help them to manage stress in the future.
We know if we don’t take care of ourselves, we won’t be able to help our loved ones. Yet, even for us, self-care can be hit and miss. How can our boys grasp this concept when we sometimes struggle with prioritising self-care?
By practising our own self-care routines, we role model to our boys that wellbeing is fundamentally important. Talking regularly about looking after ourselves, and preparing our own Mum and Dad care lists, are simple preliminary steps.
Starting boys early in setting self-care habits makes it normal and therefore easier to maintain.
The following 8 tips can help your son set up a self-care routine:
1. Make it visible
Start with a small self-care task list so progress can be easily tracked.
For younger boys, tasks could be teeth cleaning, getting dressed or hand washing before meals. For older boys, homework, downtime and bedtime schedules could be planned.
2. Encourage independence
Let your son use his own language and autonomy over his list. Give younger boys the option of drawing their lists.
3. Model the process
To start the ball rolling, transpose items from your list to his list e.g. pack lunch
4. Encourage regular upgrades
Just like apps, checklists are ever evolving, like personal growth.
5. Sleep on it
Remember that sleep is a self-care activity – it energises us.
6. Boys love routine
Remind him that evening routines mean extra time for him in the morning and allows the brain to relax at night.
7. Nobody is perfect
Show your son that we are all fallible and that self-criticism has no place in self-care.
8. There’s always a curveball
Most importantly, gentle reminders that sometimes life gets in the way of our own routines, as it may (and will) for our boys, and that is okay.
For boys to truly take on board their own self-care routine, they must be doing it for themselves for their own advantage, without the notion of reward or punishment. Having interest from mentors on how these self-care habits are evolving can help with this.
Self-care is a crucial aspect of setting up our boys for success in life. By equipping them with grounding skills for when life doesn’t go to plan, because the fact is, life can be messy.
Clear, James (2018) Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones.
Penguin Random House. penguinrandomhouse.com
Jen Jones is a mother of three (two boys), has worked for many years as a crisis centre phone counsellor and is passionate about wellbeing. This article is about Wellbeing
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