Parent Wellbeing: The Key to Family Happiness

Apr 1, 2024

Parent Wellbeing

Most of us have flown on aeroplanes and know the safety drill:

Make sure you put your gas mask or life jacket on before you try and save other people. . .

And that’s good advice.

Parental wellbeing is no different. After all, how can you help your child if you are sinking in stress and anxiety yourself?

As the pillars holding the family structure together, parents need to prioritize their own health and wellbeing to be able to nurture a harmonious and happy family environment, and in doing so support their children effectively.

Rather than parental wellbeing an afterthought, it’s the ESSENTIAL BEDROCK of becoming an effective parent.

So, never feel guilty about taking time for yourself so that you can be a better person and parent — your child’s happiness and success depends on it.

1. Why is Parental Wellbeing Essential for a Happy Family?

Well, it’s kinda obvious, right?

If the parents are stressed and sinking, they’re likely to take it out on their kids, to some extent, either intentionally or unintentionally.

Regardless, the effects on the child can not only be disastrous in the present,  but also in their future, too as they carry the psychological scars of previous trauma. 

But it doesn’t have to be that way. 

By practising selfcare properly, by engaging in self care activities with your child and by reaching out for help when you need it, you can help you lay the foundations for a happy, healthy and harmonious family life.

Research has clearly shown that higher levels of parental wellbeing are associated with more positive parenting behaviors and outcomes for children, as well as reducing the risk of child maltreatment and enhancing the parent-child relationship.

So, making sure you prioritize self-care and nurture your own wellbeing is a no-brainer.

That said, we all know how challenging parenting can be (“They said it would be hard — but THIS HARD?!”) and it can sometimes be difficult to juggle everything in your life AND make time for yourself.

But it’s crucial to address your own wellbeing asap to prevent burnout.

If you don’t it’s possible the whole family will crash and burn.

The Role of Self-Care in Parental Wellbeing

One of the key components of parental wellbeing is self-care.

Self-care involves finding time to engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation, whether it’s pursuing hobbies, spending time with family or friends, exercising, or simply having moments of quiet reflection.

Regularly practising self care leads enables you to be a better parent, partner and person. Simple! 

“But I should be focussing on the KIDS, not MYSELF!” I hear you scream.

But no, you shouldn’t — at least not all the time.

Here’s why:

As parents, it’s easy to feel guilty about taking time for ourselves, but self-care is NOT selfish.

It’s an essential ingredient in maintaining emotional health and being able to provide the best care for our children.

Prioritize self-care by setting aside regular “me time,” seeking help when needed, and learning to say no to overwhelming commitments.

2. Seeking Support 

It’s okay to seek support.

In fact, it’s MORE than okay: It’s the only responsible thing to do when you know it’s needed

If you’re stressed out and feel helpless to help yourself, do yourself and your family a favour and reach out for help. And forget about what other people might say or think — who cares?

It’s YOUR family, YOUR future and YOUR life.

Leave theirs up to them and you take care of your own business.

Parentline services, webinars, and support groups can be incredibly valuable resources for parents to talk things through, learn effective parenting techniques and connect with others facing similar challenges.

The support is there if you need it.

Go find it.

3. Strategies for Enhancing Emotional Health

Alongside things like developing self-efficacy in the parenting role, practicing positive parenting, seeking social support, and participating in parenting programs, there are several ways in which you can reflect on your own wellbeing and take small steps towards change today.

Here are some ideas:

Reflecting on Your Own Wellbeing

Ask yourself the following questions.

If you find yourself answering ‘no’ to too many (or all) then you should take action to change things TODAY. (The following section gives you some ideas.

Simple Self-care Steps You Can Take Today

  • Get in touch with people who can help you (because there are LOTS)
  • Make sure you have some time to yourself (and don’t feel guilty about it!)
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself (other will do that for you)

  • Keep in mind that tough times don’t last forever (“This, too, shall pass”)
  • Build relationships with people who support you (let them in)
  • Do activities that you enjoy or find relaxing (and don’t worry about what others think; if you like beetle racing or chainsaw wood carving, GO FOR IT!)

  • Don’t expect too much from yourself (again, others will be more than happy to do that for you)
  • Take any chance you get to rest (you need and deserve it)
  • Don’t compare yourself to other parents (the fact is: you don’t know really their story or what happens behind closed doors; people always present their best image in public)

  • Hang out with other parents in a support group (just make sure that they are positive, supportive parents or it might make things worse; there are plenty of support groups out there so don’t get stuck in a toxic one full of moaners!)
  • Accept help when it’s offered to you (when your feeling better and armed with knowledge and a stack of strategies you can pass it on and help someone else)
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help – you don’t have to do it alone (asking for help is a sign of intelligence and strength — not the other way around) 

  • Go for a short walk every day with your child (you might want to check the weather first; going for a relaxing walk with your 5-year old in a gale-force wind probably isn’t going to help anyone)
  • Go for a short walk every day with your child (you might want to check the weather first; going for a relaxing walk with your 5-year old in a gale-force wind probably isn’t going to help anyone)
  • Reward yourself and plan fun things to do in the future (a massage, a movie, 30-minutes downtime with your favourite playlist, a coffee with friends. . . )
  • Talk to your family and friends about how you feel (ALERT: it’s best not to offload on your kids; oversharing can put a massive strain on their mental health)

  • Eat regular, healthy meals and stay active (keep healthy and keep busy, but not necessarily ‘work’ busy)
  • Enjoy spending time with your child and appreciate what makes them special (how well do you really know them?)
  • Recognize your worth and the important role you have as a parent (YES! YES! YES!)

Final Thoughts

Prioritizing parental wellbeing is not only crucial for your own mental and physical health but also for creating a happy and harmonious family environment in which your relationships can thrive.

Within that environment, your children will be much happier, much more stable and have a real shot at fulfilling their massive potential

So, next time you’re feeling like a useless parent, things are spinning out of control and you don’t know what to do, remember:

Millions of other parents are feeling the same way and HELP IS AVAILABLE — all you have to do is ask. 

You don’t have to do it alone. 🙂


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