As a parent, we want our children to grow up healthy and happy. We load them with vitamins, bring them out to play, take care of their needs and most importantly, make sure that we are there for them.
But what about yourself? As that ‘filling’ in the sandwich, it’s hard to give your family ‘flavour’ when you are struggling with your day-to-day responsibilities and just trying to be everything (or everywhere) all at once. Despite having the best intentions, neglecting your own well-being and being constantly exhausted can be damaging for yourself and your child too.
After all, a child’s healthy development often depends on his or her parents who are the main pillar of support in helping the child lead a happy and purposeful life. A parent’s well-being (or the lack of it) might lead to an increased risk of the child developing social, emotional and/or behavioural problems over their lifetime.
In other words, it’s equally important that you take steps to take care of your own mental health. Care for yourself by following these four CARE tips, so you can better care for others.
Depression and anxiety can be a result of over-worrying for your children. If you choose to bottle everything, this can manifest in you not being able to form an emotional connection with your child.
Instead, find someone to talk to, even if it is just for a few minutes. It can be anyone – your partner, close friends, even your child. Establishing an open and honest form of communication with others, builds trust and strengthens the bond between you and your family.
Communication is not restricted to just words – non-verbal cues like facial expressions and body language are just as important. Have you experienced moments when your child came up with a small gesture that went a long way in making you feel better? Your child is often smarter than you give them credit for.
So never be afraid to say or show how you really feel.
Make sure that you pay attention to your own basic needs, including having regular meals and keeping active. You can do this while spending time with your family. It can come in the form of fun physical activities such as a walk in the park or playing sports.
Get a health mental boost by taking time for yourself. Plan your own power breaks: watch your favourite shows, catch up with a friend, step outside for some fresh air or do a workout.
And if you ever need to seek external help, do it. Never feel bad or selfish about prioritising self-care. You are a human being just like everyone, and you deserve to be and feel well.
You also don’t have be the one making plans for the family all the time. Learn to let your child take the lead and plan instead. This can empower them to learn how to become resourceful, growing as decision-makers in the process.
Sometimes, ‘can’ actually means ‘cannot’. Do remember to check in with your loved ones to see how they are doing. Sometimes this means to check in on yourself too. Take positive steps to make sure you are really okay. Can?
If you don’t already know, you can use your MediSave savings to help support the cost of outpatient treatments for mental health conditions, such as anxiety and major depression. Find out more here.
All parents want to maximise their child’s potential. That often means a myriad of tuition classes, extracurricular activities etc. While it’s great to let your child expand their knowledge and skills beyond the academic curriculum, try to make sure that they don’t get burnt out.
At the same time, if you find yourself getting drained by being your child’s all-round personal assistant/chauffeur/trainer/part-time teacher, it’s okay to take small breaks. Be intentional in giving yourself sufficient rest. Parents often make sure their children stick to a certain bedtime routine but are flippant with their own sleep schedule, when lack of sleep can be detrimental for health, and may even increase stress levels.
After all, if you don’t have the requisite energy, how can you give your child the best care?
Learn not to be so hard on yourself. You might be a “super-parent” but even superheroes have their low moments.
You often encourage your kids, even when they fail or do badly – have you done that for yourself? Self-compassion is critical for mental health, especially during times of difficulty. It’s okay not be okay, so cut yourself some slack! Giving yourself a pat on the back can provide the lift you need whenever you’re struggling.
While taking care of your mental health, it is imperative that you ensure your financial health is in great shape too. By planning for you and your family’s financial future, this gives you a peace of mind to be the best parent that you can be.
If you didn’t already know, you can use your MediSave savings to help support the cost of outpatient treatments for mental health conditions, such as anxiety and major depression. Click here for more info.
Lynn from CPF (or Housing Schemes Department) shares three quick tips on how she takes charge of her finances as a mum of three:
Make financially prudent choices
“This doesn’t mean compromising your child’s standard of life. It is important to identify what we need vs what we want.”
Keep yourself up to date
“We should be aware of financial products and instruments that can make our dollar work harder for us and keep track of our expenses.”
Take advantage of CPF’s attractive interest rates
“To do so, I made a partial voluntary housing refund of the CPF savings I used for the purchase of my flat, so that my savings can grow at interest rates of up to 3.5% p.a. in my Ordinary Account. You can also consider using cash instead of your CPF for your monthly housing loan repayment. Remember, planning for your family’s finances is a constant work in progress!”
Information is accurate as of 1 June 2022.
This article is contributed by CPF Board.