I call my column MAKING AN EFFORT, because that’s the attitude with which I regard this vocation of parenting and bringing up a family. Together as parents and as heads of our families, let’s explore how we can make a better and better effort for our children and for God.
Parenting and family concerns covers a wide, wide area, and I do not pretend to know how I shall organize the topics nor the order I will write them in. I’m very open to suggestions, so if you have any ideas, any topics that you would like to read about, any questions that we can discuss, please let me know by sending an email to the KAPATIRAN Editor via www.bcbp-phil.com. Just click on the Kapatiran feedback option.
We all know – from experience! – that parenting is a big and serious job. But I’m thinking right now that we will have time enough in future issues to talk about our work. It seems fitting to start with taking care of the giver of caring – that’s you and me. To borrow from Covey’s words: we also need to take care of the goose that lays the golden eggs . So let’s talk about self-care for the parent. Remember: YOU are important too!
1. One lookout is stress. There’re good kinds and bad kinds, but the long and short of it is that stress, in whatever form, adds up. Psychologists have actually come up with mean stress values  for different positive and negative stressors. The idea is that too much cumulative stress can compromise our abilities and even make us sick. So whether we swing way up or way down on the emotional scale, we need to be able to get back to a middle road, where things are relatively calm. Take time out from the bustle of life and give it to yourself. Take a nap, take a long bath, go for a spa treat, have lunch or coffee with friends, learn to meditate, take in a good book, do whatever you need to relax. In a crunch, something as simple as a breathing break, where you drop everything for a minute or two to stretch and take deep, cleansing breaths, can help.
2. Guilt is also an enemy. Given that we live multi-role lives and each role has numerous demands, it’s so easy to feel guilty when we are unable to tackle them all. We habitually end each day tired and spent, and yet items remain outstanding on our to-do lists. But let’s make a reality check: Can you really do everything for your children? Will your family actually fall apart if you took a break? Are you absolutely not dispensable or replaceable at work? Remember that in many respects, whatever you leave behind for the moment will be there when you get back, whether it’s chores or memos. (Of course, I’m assuming a good effort here – procrastination is an enemy too!) So unless the situation is critical, it’s alright to take a long lunch break once in a while!
3. The third thing to guard against is illness. There’s nothing like prevention! Three things to watch:
a. DIET: eat healthy. There IS truth to the adage that you are what you eat. We are deluged with convenience foods loaded with salts and trans-fats. Go instead for antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. Increase your fiber and water intake. Take vitamins and supplements if necessary. Examine labels in the supermarket.
b. WEIGHT: exercise. Experts recommend a minimum of three twenty-minute cardio (raising your heartrate to 220 minus your age) work-outs per week for optimum health . Exercise keeps our Body Mass Index* down, helps hold our moods up and increases our defense against all diseases!
*To compute : BMI = (weight in pounds) x 703
(height in inches)2
Values : Underweight = <18.5 Normal weight = 18.5-24.9 Overweight = 25-29.9 Obesity = BMI of 30 or greater c. HEALTH: go for a check-up regularly. At age 40, a complete physical is recommended, to establish baseline information. Your doctor will recommend a check-up frequency for you, depending on your health. Monitor your BP, cholesterol (LDL is bad and must be lower than 100, HDL is good and must be higher than 40) and sugar levels. And Mommies: don’t forget your paps and mammograms! 4. Maintain your support system. We need to find places outside of our families where we can go for encouragement or confirmation, replenish our energies and inspirations, or find help when needed. Support can be found in BCBP Action Groups, friends and barkadas, our own families of origin, professional counselors, even self-help books, hobbies and private recreations. The point is to have oases where we can go to self-soothe. 5. Lastly: Get enough sleep! Need I say more on this one? As parents, we are in charge of our children and we have a duty to maintain our ability to take care of them well. This means maintaining ourselves, in body, mind and spirit. I don’t know if you noticed, but I purposefully left until last one (last but certainly never the least) very important aspect of taking care of ourselves. It’s this: guard your spiritual life. Of course! We need to keep faith with our prayer time, be vigilant against temptations, and constantly fight our favorite sins. As parents, we need to touch base with the Ultimate Parent all the time, as He is our Source and Guide for everything. But brothers and sisters, that was meant to go without saying! 1. Stephen R Covey, 1989, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, New York; Fireside/Simon and Schuster, New York City 2. The Social Readjustment Rating Scale, developed by Thomas H Holmes and R H Rahe, professors Psychiatry at the University of Washington 3. Michael F Roizen MD and Mehmet C Oz MD, 2005, YOU The Owner’s Manual, New York: Harper Collins Publishers, New York City 4. Source: National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, USA
Annie writes “I’m back! I’ve never been away, actually. Even when I was not writing for the KAPATIRAN, I was writing all the time, and I always have the BCBP in mind. I suppose that’s how it is when one has been a BCBP member for so long. In my case, all my adult life, almost. Well, brothers and sisters, with this article I’m starting a column on parenting and family concerns, a subject that’s very close to my heart.” Yes, very close to her heart ‘cuz Annie has five teenage kids that, together with her husband Nelson, are the mainstays of her life. After Nelson and Annie’s stint as BCBP Regional Council Director for Northwestern Luzon, Annie has accepted a teaching job and is pursuing her masters degree, all at the same time!!!