Episode 63: How Self-Care & Your Village Support Your Parenting

In this episode of The Family Couch, we talk with Melissa Dumaz about creating a village and self-care.

We dive right in and discuss how Dumaz helps moms not get into the rhythm of feeling like they have to do everything for everyone else. Dumaz encourages moms do define their own version of supermom or superdad.  We need to know what our strengths and weaknesses are as parents. We need to find the strengths and focus on those. It’s easy to compare yourself to others and feel “less than” when you look at social media. Dumaz reminds parents that social media is the highlight reel.  You aren’t seeing any of the things going on in the background. These are often things that people have thought a lot about before posting.

We next discuss how Dumaz defines self-care.  She provides that it is the time you spend taking care of yourself.  It looks different for everyone. We sometimes do it and don’t realize it.  People often think it means you’re going to get a mani-pedi or a massage, and if they aren’t doing that, they think they aren’t caring for themselves.  Dumaz feels that it is a good idea to look at sleep patterns. If you are getting a decent amount of sleep, that is considered self-care. Sometimes self-care may be turning the TV off and going to bed when the kids go to bed.  This can be difficult when you have other things you want to do during this time. Another thing Dumaz considers to be self-care is water intake. If not, you may want to set a timer to remind yourself to drink eight ounces of water.

We talk about what to do when a person doesn’t know how to get started being more mindful and taking care of themselves. Dumaz mentions the quote, “You cannot pour from an empty cup.”  She says that when parents hear this, they often have an “aha moment.” Then Dumaz has them talk about what they would like to do for themselves and reminds them of who they were before they became a parent.  Starting with interests is a great place to get started in taking care of yourself. Regarding the wish list, Dumaz has parents take it a step further and identify the things that can realistically be done now versus things that can be done when the kids are older.

We next discuss mom-guilt and feeling guilty for taking care of yourself.  Dumaz reminds parents that they have a to-do list and asks them if they are on their own to-do list.  She challenges parents to put themselves first on the list. If we don’t take care of ourselves first, we often become too tired to do it after all the rest is done.  Dumaz has parents analyze guilt to see if it is legitimate. Are you doing something you shouldn’t be doing as a parent? Are you harming your children? If your answer is no, there is nothing to feel guilty about.  Dumaz feels that the guilt often comes from comparison. You cannot enjoy the feeling of parenthood when you are constantly comparing yourself to others, and you need to remind yourself that this is your journey and how you are doing your parenting.  If someone is providing you with parenting wisdom that is making you feel bad, then you may not need that wisdom.  Dumaz feels that there is no harm in exploring different things, but you have to know when to put it away and realize that it’s not working for your family.

We change gears and discuss how integral it is to create a village of support.  Dumaz has learned that a village will not always be a family member or neighbor–it can be a teacher, a blogger, or another parent you’ve connected with, as examples.  We cannot do it all and do need support from people that we trust. The village must be built on a foundation of trust. Sometimes we need to check in with parents that are on the same journey and be told that what is happening is normal.

We discuss how culture affects a village.  Every culture has its own belief system and it’s important to take this into account.  For many cultures it is important for children to learn things that are connected to their culture, so we want to expose our children to these things.  We often forget that the biggest parenting tool that we have is the way that we life our life. When our children see us spending time with friends or family or connecting with a spiritual leader, they see it and the lessons are learned.  If a family’s culture doesn’t really support their parenting ideas, Dumaz reminds them that they are doing something different so they may need transition time to find someone that supports them. There will be things that you cannot talk to your family about since you are doing things differently.  Facebook groups are huge for this. If you are an advocate for time outs, you can search this in Facebook and try to find a group of parents that will support you.

We finally discuss that there is more than one way to parent and there is no perfect way to parent.  With parenting, it is almost like learning a new identity. Dumaz reminds her clients that in redefining yourself as a parent, you are looking for integration and not balance.  When we think about balance, we think about adding pieces together so they make a whole. Dumaz wants her clients to give their whole self to their children, spouse, village and friends–not broken fragments and pieces.  Dumaz will ask clients what they feel their roles are. She will hear that they are a mom or dad, a husband or wife, business owner, working parent, a church member, etc. She asks them to look at all of the pieces and what they’re bringing to them.  If they are not bringing their 100% self, then Dumaz has them look at what is stopping them and how to slow down and refill their cup. She feels that we can still be loving and caring and still provide discipline. You can do all of these things and still bring your personality to your parenting.  Dumaz believes that our children choose us to be their parents.



Melissa Dumaz is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who has been in the mental health field for over sixteen years.  She has worked in the past in mental health hospitals, rehab facilities, non-profit organizations and schools. She now works in her private practice in Torrance, CA, primarily with women who are processing current or past traumas or grief and loss.  Dumaz also works with with moms for parenting, postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, and to provide support. She is a mom of three.



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