Helping the family to take care of themselves during tough times

Mother and daughters smiling

This can help if:

  • you want your family members to take better care of each other

  • time and money are tighter, so there’s less to spend on yourselves

  • family members are feeling guilty about taking care of their own needs.

Why it’s important to take care of yourself during the drought

Taking care of yourself is known as ‘self-care’. It’s important because it makes you feel happier and more resilient. The whole family benefits when everyone gets to do things they enjoy, and even in tough times there are still ways to do this. If you’re under time and financial pressures because of the drought, you might feel guilty and self-indulgent if you do anything for yourself or look after your own needs. Your teen can feel the same pressures. Taking care of yourself sets an example for your teen that will help them establish good practices for life.

Work together to figure out what activities each of you enjoy

  • Talking about the good times can be a help in itself, by reminding you and your teen of the things you enjoy doing:

  • As a parent, what did you love doing before you got so busy?

  • Your teen may want to spend their free time helping you. Encourage them to take time out from this so that they continue to do things they find enjoyable.

  • Think low-budget or free activities: catching up with friends, participating in sport, gaming, working out, listening to podcasts, reading, doing craft, joining community institutions, going to markets and free events.

  • This is about identifying activities that are fun and enjoyable, but that aren’t a drain on already pressured bank accounts.

For some other examples, check out our ‘Understand’ page.

Make the best use of your time

During drought, it’s not just water that’s scarce; time and money dry up, too. Jobs take up more of your time. Supplies and living expenses cost more, and the whole community suffers. Time spent taking care of yourself gets put aside. But, like coins in a jar, small amounts of time – even 5 or 10 minutes – can add up and have a positive effect if used well.

  • If you’re taking fewer trips into town, add some time for a chat with a mate, or even with a trusted acquaintance – your barber or hairdresser, accountant or supplier, about how you’re both doing. Chatting with others always helps.

  • Make screen time good times: messaging, gaming, interacting, rather than just scrolling. Maintaining our networks builds resilience.

  • Use ‘dead time’. For example, when you’re on the road, enjoy a podcast or call a friend. Walk, instead of taking the motorbike. Sit somewhere nice to eat lunch, rather than bolt it on the go.

  • Going out on the town might be off the cards, but a barbecue with neighbours can be just as fun. We’ve all got to eat, and sometimes together is better.

Commit to a routine

A rural mum doing it tough summed it up: ‘It’s hard juggling everything, and keeping the kids, the house and everything else going.’ Blocking out regular time in the family week planner for fun activities, or just time for yourself, helps to keep it a priority.

  • See it as a wellbeing plan, not an emergency response for when things get too much.

  • Have the attitude that time spent taking care of yourself is the last thing to go, not the first.

  • This is time for you and what you enjoy, not another chore.

Get support

Back each other up!

  • Tell each other what you’re doing, and encourage the family to help and support each other.

  • Swap chores if it helps someone go and do their planned thing.

  • Use local services, like after school care, to make time for self-care.

  • Ask for help from other family and friends. Rural communities are always willing to help each other out, especially when times are tough.

Reflect and adapt

Schedule a time once a month to see how everyone’s doing. If things aren’t working, think about what you or other family members can change to manage self-care differently.

  • Would another time of day be better for a scheduled activity? Earlier can be easier, because it’s hard to stop what you’re doing as the day progresses.

  • Would a different day be better? What feels great on Saturday morning might not work at lunchtime on Monday.

  • Encourage your family to keep at it. Be clear that you value self-care and will support them to identify ways that work for them.

Did you find what you needed?

  • I need to know more - Read our factsheet about self-care.