Parenting tips: Seven ways you can fill your own cup

Posted by Naureen Aqueel on

Parenting Filling your own cup first raising kids parties

Let’s face it. Parenting is hard. You’re juggling so many different roles and responsibilities. You have so much to think about and do. And it doesn’t help that those little human beings under your care have their own emotional tornados that seem to wreak havoc to your mental state! 

As a parent, it’s easy to fall into the trap of always putting your children’s needs before your own. You race from one task to the next. Changing diapers, feeding, dressing them up, cleaning, doing the laundry, reading to them, wiping away tears, bandaging boo-boos, doing pickups and drop-offs, driving, packing lunches, prepping snacks and dinner, planning their parties, soccer practice, homework - the list is endless! It’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel completely drained! You’re only one person after all! 

Drained - that’s the perfect word to describe what many parents go through. It’s like that red blinking warning on your phone telling you the battery is depleted and that your phone will shut down any second unless it’s plugged in and recharged. It’s like that warning sign on your car dashboard alerting you to the fact that your vehicle is low on fuel. You can’t be running on empty. You just can’t. 

It’s the same case when it comes to your emotional state and your own energy. You can’t run on empty. You can’t pour from an empty cup. You need to fill your own cup first. 

So, what does it mean to fill your own cup as a parent? 

It means you must take care of your own needs first before you can be a good parent to your children. It means giving yourself what you need before you can give your children what they need. It means you nourish your body, mind and soul to feel whole enough to give to those whom you love. It means caring for your own self and your own mental health.  It means noticing the warning signs that show up when you’re running on empty and find yourself snapping and getting irritated on the tinniest of things; when you feel your heart rate speeding up or something pulling on your stress nerve when you hear another voice calling out your name.

Yep, many of us recognize those signs but find it hard to admit we need a break.

It is not selfish to take a moment for yourself to breathe, enjoy some quiet time, nourish your body with food, water, fresh air and movement and to nourish your mind with something that gives you joy and energy.

When you fill your own cup, you become a calmer and happier parent for your children. When you give yourself what you need, you are really able to give to others in a better way. It really is a win-win for both you and your children.

Here are some ways you can fill your cup first and nourish your own body and mind:


1. Set aside definite “me time”


Me time for moms filling your own cup parenting


“Me time” - that magical time that recharges you and refreshes you to come back with more energy. We have all heard of it and everyone has their own version of what recharges and relaxes them, but one thing is certain - you need some time alone to yourself to be able to feel fulfilled and replenished to meet the unending demands of parenthood. 

For you, “me time” might mean going to a cafe alone with a book for some quiet reading time and treats on the side. For someone else, it might just be having an uninterrupted meal that doesn't have to be shared. For others, it might be a bubble bath or a spa day. And yet for someone else, it might be getting time to work on a project that excites them. It might take some time to figure out what really replenishes you and gives you that sense of fulfillment that helps you return to your family in a happier and calmer state. 

Once you've figured out what "me time" replenishes you, make it a point to build it into a regular schedule. You can schedule in some time every week or every other day, but give it as much importance as you do to any other thing on your to-do list. 


2. Eat well 


Eating well parenting tips filling your own cup first


As parents, it's hard to find the time to eat a healthy nourishing meal when you have so many other mouths to feed, so many picky eaters to cater to and so much meal prep to do. Unfortunately, it can be very easy to forget you even had to eat or just end up stuffing your mouth with some chips or cookies while you dash from one task to the next. 

Surviving only on coffee? We've all been there and done that at some point of our lives. And we know how draining that can actually be. 

The outbursts, irritation and tears can be so much more intense when we are in times like those. Ever heard of the term “hangry”? 

Nurturing your body with healthy and balanced meals shouldn't be a luxury. It's a necessity and something you should set time out for. 

Set time out to sit down and have a healthy meal with all the different food groups. Make sure you are providing your body with adequate proteins, carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables. 

Even if you are having trouble getting your kids to eat from all of the necessary food groups, make sure you include them in your diet yourself. Modelling is the best way to teach them and again, nourishing your body with a balanced diet is a crucial way of filling your own cup. So make it a point to eat well and eat healthy. Bonus points if you can schedule a peaceful meal every other day where you sit down and eat alone without having to share or give instructions to the kids to finish what's in their plates. 


3. Drink water

This is almost intuitive but it's amazing how many people, parents in particular, forget to drink enough water a day. Not drinking enough water can lead to a host of other health issues. Not to mention, it reduces energy and makes you short-tempered. 

Research has found that dehydration makes you more prone to feeling angry, anxious and irritated. 

Sure enough, it's draining! So while you take care of your little angels and provide them food and water, don't forget to fill your own cup too. 

Remember, you can't pour from an empty cup. A healthy, well-nourished parent is better for your children than someone who is dehydrated, hungry and irritated. 


4. Ask for help, hire help or outsource

We have all heard the saying 'It takes a village to raise a child'. Yet, unfortunately, most of us live without that village and feel an unnecessary pressure to do it all ourselves. 

It's not humanly possible to do everything ourselves. We need a hand here and there and we need to outsource certain things to be able to have things run smoothly and without stress. 

It is difficult to ask for help but it is a necessary part of filling your own cup and being a better parent. Ask grandparents or aunts and uncles to lend a hand, take over the kids for an evening or two so you can get some time to yourself or with your spouse. Ask for help for things like grocery pick-ups, organizing kids parties or cleaning up. Get kids involved in small household chores and errands. And if you can, hire help for tasks like cleaning up, laundry, occasional babysitting etc. 

Set up systems to delegate or outsource some tasks so you have some predictability and can plan out your life accordingly. It is amazing how much just setting up some systems can help organize your life and reduce the overwhelm. 

Use the extra time you have to do something else that fills your cup. Take the cost of hiring help as an investment in your own well-being and mental health. 

5. Go for a walk, get some exercise and fresh air


Go for a walk filling your cup as a parent exercise movement calm


As parents, it's often hard to find those moments of calm in the chaos of life. You are often hit with one demand after the other and it's easy to feel like you don't even have a moment to breathe. Especially when your kids are young and you are in the trenches of feedings, diaper changes naps and repeat. In those moments, it's easy to fall into the trap of being stuck indoors for days on end.

This can feed feelings of isolation, anxiety and cabin fever. The way to break this and refresh yourself is to just step out, go for a short walk or run and get some fresh air. It's amazing how much of a difference just a 10 minute walk can make to your mood. Seeing people, the sky, the trees and birds and just getting some fresh air and exercise can do wonders to your mood and make everyday problems feel more manageable. Set a time daily to include a short walk into your schedule.


6. Pursue a passion

One of the biggest challenges moms mention after motherhood is the loss of identity after they throw themselves into taking care of their children. Especially when they give up their careers and interests to take care of their children. It becomes difficult for them to find something that they enjoy doing. 

As much as we love our kids, not having anything else in our day that gives us that energy and passion can be depressing. While it's often difficult to imagine finding the time to pursue a passion when you are barely finding time to wash your hair, it really is amazing how much energy you miraculously find when doing something you are passionate about. Ask any parent who is pursuing a passion while raising their kids. They are able to find the time to do it even in a packed day, they are excited enough to stay up in the night to make the time for it or they wake up early to carve out time for it. 

It could be anything from reading, writing, blogging, art, community volunteering, woodwork or sculpting to starting a hobby business or passion project. Having something that makes you excited and gets your mind buzzing with ideas can be such an energizing and invigorating experience. When you find yourself in the dumps and unable to find the energy to get through the day, it’s a sign that you need to add something you are passionate about to your life.

Pursuing a passion can be a great way of filling your own cup. Set out time in your week or day to follow your passions and work on things that give you that drive. 

7. Meet your friends


Parenting fill your own cup moms meeting friends socializing

It's easy to feel isolated in parenthood when your day is only full of endless errands and chores and when your only conversations are those with little human beings. It is therefore vital to make sure you make out time to meet friends and family and feel that sense of social belonging, community and support. Schedule in weekly meet-ups with friends where you get to have uninterrupted conversations and feel like your old self again. Join groups or community programs that allow you to meet new people and make friends.  Hire a babysitter or arrange for a family member to take care of the kids while you have your time out with your friends. Having good friends to hang out with once in a while is one of the most refreshing ways of filling your own cup. 



Filling your own cup is vital to being a good parent. It may initially take some time to figure out what works for you and you will find that it may be different at different points of your life, but as you understand yourself and your needs better you will be pleasantly surprised when you see the change it can bring to your moods, mental health and in your ability to be present and patient with your kids. If you look at other parents and wonder how they can be so much calmer and fulfilled, this might just be missing piece of the puzzle for you. 

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