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How to Balance Personal Care and Raise a Family

Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy in Toronto

Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy in Toronto

When I first started my undergrad studies 13 years ago I attended school with a famous retired movie actress from London, England.  She one day asked me out to lunch and took me to a very swanky restaurant in Toronto and gave me the best advice I have heard till this day.  She told me all about her life as an actress and then when she married and become a wife and mother.  She told me “Dayana always remember, if you don’t take care of yourself first, then you won’t have anything to offer your children when you are spent”.  At that time I was 20 years old and the world was my oyster.  Marriage?! Please!! I was never getting married or having kids!! I was going to go to graduate school, be a famous psychologist (in my mind) and raise my three dogs!  However for some reason those word always remained.

Now let’s flash forward 13 years later.  I currently have three children all under the age of four, one dog, a husband, a house to maintain, a private practice to work in and I’m applying for my Ph.D. next year.  Needless to say my “never getting married or having kids” theme went out the window with raising my three kids instead of dogs at this point.  However the one thing that has never changed for me regardless of how busy I have become is remembering to take care of myself.  Don’t get me wrong at times I have completely forgotten about myself when life became too hectic.  However all it took was one look into the TTC subway window doors for me to say “wow you should have really combed your hair this morning”.  For anyone who rides the subway, you completely understand what I am saying here.  My friend calls it the “subway window check”.  That when you begrudgingly cram yourself into a tiny tin subway cart and turn around to stare out the window and you catch the first glimpse of what you really look like in the morning.  Or more like what you really look like to the world.

Part of raising a family means having very little time for your self. Nonetheless, part of maintaining a healthy attitude and outlook on life is providing personal care for yourself in order to maintain a beautiful mindset.  Beauty at the end of the day is a mindset.  No amount of makeup or clothes you wear will ever make you feel beautiful if you don’t already believe that within your inner self.   However how you look and physically feel about yourself does play a big role on your attitude and outlook.   So lets look at four areas where small changes can help!


No matter who you are, what you do for a living or how many kids you have; we all have the same amount of time in a day, 24 hours and no more.  How you divide your time and how you manage it is up to you.  Part of what happens when you start providing no personal care for yourself is when we stop carving out time to do this.  Make sure you take time out during your busy day or week to do something awesome for yourself.  My children normally nap during the day from 12pm-2pm.  During this time I will read a book, nap, paint my nails, do my hair, pluck my eyebrows or whatever needs to be done on me.  I don’t always get to do this all the time, however when I do get the time I take advantage of it.  Dishes will always need to be done and laundry will always need to be folded.  But if I look more like the disheveled house maid and less like the one that owns the house, well then maybe I need to take a step back and re-evaluate my time.  Since time is limited for everyone scheduling in a “you” day even if it be for an hour can really make a difference.


There’s an old saying “manage your time or someone else will manage it for you”.  I use to love to sleep in.  Sleep to me is the best thing ever created.  However once I had children, I realized that my sleep schedule was now being dictated accordingly to my children’s sleeping patterns.  Someone once told me “you can either accept the fact that after having kids you will never truly have uninterrupted sleep for a while, or you can fight against it and frustrate yourself even more”.  Once I realized the truth in this speech, I gave up the idea of sleep on my schedule and readjusted my thinking and time frames.   I can’t say I get 6-8 hours of sleep at night.  Last week I got 4 hours in two days because of work and the kids.  However, I can say that I no longer carry a negative mindset about sleeping.  I now realize that my sleep will be affected for a while and the best thing I can do is adjust my attitude towards it.  I also bought really good concealer to cover up those dark under eye circles on days that I don’t get much (or any sleep) like last week!


Beauty is really skin deep.  However with all that being said, if your outside reflects more like you have been hit by a tornado of sharks (hey I saw the movie) then few people will approach you thinking you have actually been hit by a tornado of sharks.  When I was growing up my mother always said “Dayana the day you have kids you will cut your hair short in order to save on time”.  I have three kids and the youngest is 9 months old.  My hair touches my lower back.  I have no plans of cutting it soon.  Sure does it take time to wash, dry and style? No doubt.  However I know short hair does not suit me and I will not affect my own self esteem simply to save time.  Instead, in the last four years of raising my children I have made it a point to always crave out time during the week to keep my appearance reasonable. Sure at times I have not always looked the greatest, but those days have only been far, few and in between.  If I can take time out to shower, eat and dress and then I can also take a few extra minutes to comb my hair and slap on some lip gloss.  Your appearance speaks volumes about you.  The last thing I want is people wondering if I live an unhappy life because I constantly look like I rolled out of bed. Rolling out of bed is not a look.  Period.  How you see yourself in the mirror reflects greatly on what is going on inside you mentally.  So pay attention to your appearance as your children see it as well.


Your mindset is either your greatest weapon or worse enemy in keeping up with your personal care. If you believe giving up all rights to yourself and devoting them solely to your kids and household will benefit you then be careful, as everyone burns out with no personal care.  This is like the workaholic who never stops working and neglects themselves for the sake for other duties.  Everyone crashes and burns when they “don’t stop to smell the roses”.  My kids need all my love and attention and I make sure to give it to them.  However if I offer nothing to myself and I am spent with nothing to give them, then what exactly am I am offering them if I am all burnt out?  This is how frustration, resentment and depression can potentially set in.  In my practice I have seen many parents burnt out because of lack of personal care.  Make sure to always take care of yourself, there is only one of you and many people depend on your better wellbeing.

By: Dayana Romero

Dayana Romero

About Dayana Romero

Dayana received her Bachelors in counseling in 2005. She then went on and received her Masters of Art in Counseling Psychology in 2010. In 2011, Dayana completed a diploma in addiction studies and is currently completing her certification in Traumatology. In 2015 Dayana will be completing her Masters of Science in Forensic and Investigative Psychology from the University of Liverpool. Dayana currently works on medico-legal, psycho-legal and forensic cases. Dayana counsels patients in the area of addictions, PTSD, trauma, depression and anxiety. Dayana is a member of: Ontario Psychological Association, Canadian Psychological Association, American Psychological Association and American Psychology - Law Society Division 41 of the American Psychological Association.

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