Your time

I thought I had to be with my son 24/7 and be the one to do everything for him to be a good mum. But I have found if I have some time to myself, I feel better about stuff and enjoy our time together more.

Your time with and without your children

Never doubt yourself. By all means ask questions but never doubt your parenting abilities from someone else’s words or judgemental views. If your child is happy, clean, fed and knows they have love and support, they will flourish. Parenting is so hard. It comes with many emotions and doubts. They are all normal. Do what is right by your child.

Looking after children can be hard when you’re finding it hard to look after yourself. But there is plenty of support and advice around which might help when daily life is a bit of a struggle. 

Give yourself some time out

I love to walk the dog as I can clear my head. I like to plan new places that are nice and peaceful.

No matter how bad I feel, I try to get up and have a shower and get dressed because this makes me feel better than staying in my pyjamas all day. I try to get out for a walk even if it is just to the shops. I think fresh air helps me and I can think clearer than when I am in the house all day.

You may feel that there just aren’t enough hours in the day for you to spend time on the things you like doing, or to chill and do nothing at all.

If you can find a way to get some sort of pleasure, fun or relaxation, it can make you feel less stressed.

  • Try to find a couple of minutes every day to do something that makes you feel good
  • Some ideas that work for other people are: having a shower, listening to a favourite track, phoning a friend, watching something funny online, or watching something on TV that helps you switch off
  • Going outside, enjoying nature, and getting some exercise can also relax you. See ‘your body’ page for more about this
  • Meditation and mindfulness are also great ways to relax and take time for yourself. See ‘your mind’ page for more about this
  • While doing things you enjoy can help reduce stress, the opposite is also true. When you spend a lot of time doing things you don’t enjoy, this can affect your wellbeing. This might sound obvious, and sometimes the hard stuff is unavoidable, but if there are things you can change, remember that it is OK to take steps to make yourself happier

Set a goal (or several)

My top tip would be if you really want to achieve something in life, or you want to change something that would make you happy, just think positive and look at the bigger picture and imagine the results in the end.

Setting yourself goals, however small or big, can be a good way of keeping yourself focused without becoming overwhelmed. Having a goal to work towards can help you look forward and focus on the future. Seeing what you have done along the way is an important part of looking after yourself. It means you know that you are managing, and that you are on the way to where you want to be.

Don’t be hard on yourself. If you’ve not done everything you’ve planned to do, maybe you need to give yourself more time and be kinder to yourself. There’s always another day and another chance to take another step forward. As somebody wise once said, ‘what’s for you won’t go by you’.

A few tips to try:

  • The Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) has a short guide on five ways to better mental health: connect, be active, take notice, learn, give. This might inspire you as a sort of ‘mental health to-do list’. Can you set yourself a goal to do one or more of these suggestions in the next month and stick to it? Make your goals realistic, specific and short-term. Dreaming of a faraway future is not necessarily a bad thing, but to see the benefit of setting goals, you need to start small. What can you do this week or this month? If you do have a long-term goal, try breaking it down into smaller chunks so it feels more manageable
  • Why not write down some of these goals to help you focus and organise your time? Once you tick something off the list, remind yourself that you’ve done a good job
  • Remember, your goals could include something new or different that you want to do at home, with your child or for yourself. Goals don’t need to mean added pressure, but they can give you some extra motivation

Breaking goals into smaller tasks

Goals can be broken down into smaller, manageable tasks making them easier to achieve, and your progress more obvious. Downloading the goal setting miracle question is a good way of seeing how having goals can really help.

Here’s an exercise for you to try. Think of something you’d like to achieve and break it down into small tasks.

Plan to complete each task by asking yourself the following questions:

  1. What is my task?
  2. When will I do this? (this is useful for achieving your overall goal)
  3. What might stop me doing this?
  4. How can I overcome this?

Afterwards, think about how well each task went:

  1. What went well?
  2. What didn’t go so well?
  3. What have you learned from this?

Useful links

  • The NHS has some easy time-management tips which could help you to keep on top of things
  • Getting a job and going out to work can be a challenge if you are struggling. But it could also help to boost your mental wellbeing because it can allow you to meet goals, build your confidence and connect with other people. The Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) has a helpful guide on how to be mentally healthy at work
  • Education can be a positive way to take your next steps in life and open up new opportunities. It can also bring additional stress and might feel like one more responsibility to juggle, so you could look at the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) guide on looking after your mental health while studying

Keeping it together for your children

I think it is important to take care of myself so that I am able to look after the kids properly because if I am not well, or depressed or that, they will be affected by it.

Being a parent is one of the most important jobs you can do. Looking back, many parents wish that they’d spent more time doing things they enjoyed with their children, and less time getting upset about the small stuff. Sometimes parents find that what is happening in their own lives gets in the way of being a parent. If you find that this happens to you:

  • Remember you are an important person too. Our tips on taking time for yourself (see above), can keep things in perspective
  • This NSPCC booklet has some good tips for keeping your cool, including making time for yourself – each day if possible
  • Ask for help if you need it: it’s a sign of strength and not weakness

Mental health charity Mind has loads of tips on how you can manage your everyday life and look after yourself. From getting into nature, or doing a few breathing and relaxation exercises, there’s something for everyone in Mind’s Tips for everyday living. The Mental Health Foundation is also a great source of podcasts and videos on how to reduce stress and feel more relaxed. This will make you a less stressed and more relaxed parent.

Useful links