More often than not, as parents, we find ourselves on auto-pilot, focusing on what's directly in front of us (even if that's 100 things at once). Life challenges can make it difficult to think of anything past this morning's coffee. Juggling kids, work, afterschool activities, groceries, working out, and pets may make you feel like you only have the time and energy to handle the present, losing sight of what you can do today to benefit yourself in the future. If this is happening to you, you might be realizing that you're losing a little bit of yourself along the way. You may feel like you're no longer able to connect with others the way you used to and are lacking good relationships in your life.
A big part of what makes you 'you' is your personal relationships. And the truth is, having just one healthy relationship could be a crucial factor for your overall well-being. But, they require some work, which is where it can get tricky as a busy parent. Not to mention, it's extremely important that you teach your kids how to develop and nurture healthy relationships. But, how can you do that if you can't even balance them in your own life?
Don't worry, in this blog post, we'll discuss three simple steps that you can take to develop and strengthen healthy relationships. So sit down, grab a cup of coffee and let's get started!
These can be the relationships with your romantic partner, kids, parents, grandparents, siblings, or friends. List out anyone you feel like you've developed a personal connection with and want to continue prioritizing moving forward. Oh, and don't forget to include yourself, the most important healthy relationship of them all!
Now is also a good time to think about the unhealthy relationships that you're involved in. Toxic relationships can take a toll on your mental health and skew your perception of what a healthy relationship should look like. Cutting off these toxic relationships will allow you to put more energy into your healthy ones and prioritize your own mental health. This will also set an example for your kids. If they see you involved in relationships that are constantly arguing and putting each other down, they will begin to think that that's what relationships look like, which is not a good message to send to young, impressionable minds.
So go ahead, think of the people and relationships in your life that you want to prioritize. Write all of them down, categorize them, color code them, whatever you need to do. Just be sure you have a clear idea of who you want to form this deeper connection with and find time for moving forward.
Now that you know which relationships need focusing on, ask yourself a few questions about your view of healthy relationships and what your current relationships look like. Some questions to get you started can be:
Characteristics of a healthy relationship could include good communication and one that prioritizes building trust. This person could be someone you want to spend quality time with and makes you feel comfortable expressing your own opinions and pursuing your own interests. Find the qualities of a relationship that you find most important and necessary.
Just because you desire these types of characteristics in relationships, doesn't mean you're finding them in your current relationships. Figure out what you can do to make the change and achieve these healthy relationships.
Sometimes, as hard as you try to possess all of the positive characteristics of a healthy relationship, you can feel that you and your family member or friend aren't on the same page. If you feel like your relationship lacks mutual respect, this could be a sign of a toxic relationship. Now would be the time to make the decision if this relationship is worth working through or ending.
So once again, are you and this person on the same page? Would they describe you as a good friend? Would they consider your relationship healthy and balanced? Relationships are a two-way street and it's important that both sides feel like they are benefitting from it.
Your own identity is extremely important when it comes to relationships. If you feel like you can't be yourself in a relationship, something needs to change.
Do they make you feel empowered to pursue your dreams? Do you feel like you can turn to them for advice? Can you be vulnerable with them and depend on them to unconditionally support you? Relationships should be empowering for both sides. Your friends and family can be your biggest cheerleaders and you can be there's. You both just need to prioritize unselfishly being this person for one another.
A healthy relationship shouldn't feel draining. If you're involved in a relationship that uses verbal abuse or physical violence when resolving conflict or expressing emotions, you are involved in a toxic relationship. Take a moment to think if any of your current relationships are showing toxic traits.
Sometimes, the best way to figure out if a relationship is worth saving is to think of your life without it. Would it be a weight off of your shoulders to cut off this toxic friend? Would you feel like you lost your number one supporter? If you can't imagine your life without them, don't let them go.
Setting healthy boundaries in a relationship can be tough, but often necessary. Especially if this is a relationship that you want to hold on to but know has a tendency to overstep personal boundaries. Another question to ask is: Do I overstep others' boundaries in my relationships? Tough pill to swallow, but sometimes it's on you to reflect on how you treat your friends and family.
Many of these questions can result in some deep internal reflection when you consider your relationship with yourself. But, as I'm sure you know, the relationship you have with yourself will spill over into your relationships with others, so it's always something worth focusing on.
Like new year's resolutions, but we'll actually stick to these! After you've taken the time to reflect on your personal relationships and figured out what's lacking and what's working, it's time to take action. You can start by choosing one or two resolutions at a time to see how they come to fruition and revisit the rest when you're ready. Remember, this change won't happen overnight, but if you prioritize it and remain consistent, you'll begin to see the transformation in your personal relationships and overall well-being.
For example, if you feel like you don't know very much about your "best friend" give yourself the resolution of intentional listening. When they tell you about their life, make an effort to remember the little details about their day or their new interests to show them that you care.
If you've realized that many of the conflicts in your relationship are a result of a lack of healthy boundaries, think about what boundaries you want to set for yourself and make sure you know what boundaries your friends and family members have set.
If you feel like your relationship with yourself could use some work, make the resolution of self-care. I know it can be hard to find an extra moment in the day to sit with yourself and prioritize your mental health, but I promise, you'll be a better spouse, parent, friend, and person for it. You can read more about parent self-care tips here.
Being a parent isn't easy. Lean on those around you for support, don't be afraid to ask for help, and let them know that you're in need of some TLC. Being a part of healthy relationships allow you to surround yourself with good friends and develop deep relationships with family. You'll find that you don't have to go through all of it alone and you'll always have someone there who cares about you and wants to help. Not to mention, you'll be able to set an example for your kids so that they can learn how to prioritize healthy relationships!