Self-Care for Parents: The 7 Types of Rest Every Parent Needs

Jessica LeeChild Sleep Consultant, Educational Material

As sleep consultants, our mission is to help tired parents find their way back to a good night’s sleep. We work closely with them, share strategies, and celebrate when their child finally sleeps through the night. But here’s a challenge: Even with better sleep, many moms still feel wiped out. Why?

It boils down to a simple misunderstanding. Sleep and rest aren’t interchangeable.

Let’s talk about self-care. It’s crucial, but often neglected by mothers, busy with their parenting duties. We need to remind them that looking after themselves is just as important as looking after their children. Here is where rest comes into play.

Rest is not just about lying down. It’s about restoring energy in several key areas of life. So, let’s dive into these 7 types of rest that every parent needs to know about. It is not only important for their wellbeing, but it is also essential to keep up with the high-energy demands of parenting.

1. Physical Rest

First up is physical rest. It is what most parents think of when they hear the word ‘rest’, but it’s not just about sleeping. Physical rest has two sides: passive and active. 

Passive rest includes sleeping and napping, while active rest is more about how you take care of your body when you are awake. 

For active rest, think about activities like gentle stretching exercises. A simple foot massage while watching your favorite show can help improve circulation and flexibility. It’s all about giving your body a chance to recover from the hustle of daily parenting life. Encourage mothers to implement those in their day. 

2. Mental Rest

Second, we have mental rest. Ever met a parent who seems to be running on coffee fumes and can’t seem to focus? That’s a clear sign of a mental rest deficit. Despite sleeping adequately, they wake up feeling like they have pulled an all-nighter

To help them, we can suggest things like scheduling ‘brain breaks’. These are small pockets of time, say 10 minutes every couple of hours, where they do something relaxing. It could be sipping a cup of tea, meditating, or just sitting quietly. At night, keeping a ‘brain dump’ notepad beside the bed to jot down any thoughts can prevent those ideas from hijacking their sleep.

3. Sensory Rest

The third type of rest is sensory rest. With constant noise, bright screens, and demanding interactions, our senses can become overloaded. This is especially true for parents of infants who are exposed to an array of stimuli. 

To promote sensory rest, suggest practices like taking a moment to close their eyes during the day and creating a screen-free routine in the evening. These actions can help reset their sensory inputs and reduce feelings of overwhelm.

4. Creative Rest

Next, we have the creative rest. This is not about being an artist; it’s about awakening their inner sense of awe and wonder.

Encourage mothers to reconnect with nature—take a leisurely walk in the park with the stroller, lie on the grass and watch the clouds, or simply observe the stars at night. These activities, while seemingly simple, can provide a great source of creative rest.

In addition to nature, inspire mothers to surround themselves with things that spark joy and creativity. It could be a small corner in their home dedicated to art or photographs of places they dream to visit. This visually stimulating environment can help ignite their passion and provide a sense of peace.

5. Emotional Rest

We have all met that person who is always there for everyone else, right? They are the first to lend a hand, always with a smile, but inside they might be feeling taken for granted.

As consultants, here is what we can remind parents:

  • Recognize your emotions. It is okay to have feelings, and it is okay to express them.
  • Be honest. If you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, do not hide it.
  • Learn to say “no”: You don’t have to do everything for everyone else all the time.

Emotional rest comes from being true to yourself and your feelings.

6. Social Rest

The sixth type of rest involves our relationships. Some relationships fill us with energy, while others drain us dry. Here are some tips to share with parents:

  • Spend time with people who lift you up. Look for those friends who make you laugh, who listen when you need to talk, and who truly enrich your life.
  • Limit time with energy drainers. We all know those people who leave us feeling exhausted. It’s okay to limit the time you spend with them.
  • Seek out positive communities. Online parenting groups, local community centers, or hobby clubs can be great sources of social rest.

Remember, social rest doesn’t mean isolation. It’s about choosing the quality of interactions over quantity.

7. Spiritual Rest

Finally, let’s talk about spiritual rest. This is all about connecting to something bigger than ourselves. It’s that deep sense of peace that comes from feeling part of the wider universe. Here is how we can guide parents:

  • Make time for reflection. This could be prayer, meditation, or simply watching the sunrise.
  • Connect with others. Joining a community group or volunteering can give a profound sense of connection and purpose.
  • Appreciate the natural world. Sometimes, a walk in the woods or along the beach can be a spiritual experience.

As sleep consultants, we must always be mindful of the wellness of the parents we work with. If you notice signs of extreme fatigue or any other concerning symptoms, it is essential to refer the parent to a healthcare professional immediately. It’s important to remember that we are not doctors or therapists. We are here to help, but professional medical or psychological assistance may be needed at times.

Being a child sleep consultant is an incredibly rewarding profession. We make a tangible difference in people’s lives, helping parents and children achieve healthier sleep patterns and overall improved wellbeing. Seeing the transformation in the lives of the parents and children we work with is truly heartwarming.

If you are someone who wants to make such an impact and have an interest in children’s sleep behaviors, consider this as your calling. You can become a child sleep consultant. You could be the guiding light for families navigating the challenging terrain of sleep issues. This profession is not just a job—it is a chance to bring rest and relief to households, one good night’s sleep at a time.


The Power of Rest: Why Sleep Alone Is Not Enough. A 30-Day Plan to Reset Your Body” – Edlund, M. (2010).

“Contribution of the Rest Period to Cognitive Restoration” – Söderström, M., Sörqvist, P., & Nöstl, A. (2016).

Esther I. Bernhofer, ‘Investigating the Concept of Rest for Research and Practice’, Journal of Advanced Nursing 72, no. 5 (2016): 1012–22

Claudia Hammond, ‘Why We Should Stop Worrying about Our Wandering Minds’, BBC Future (6 November 2015), accessed June 22, 2016

Albulescu, P., Macsinga, I., Rusu, A., Sulea, C., Bodnaru, A., & Tulbure, B. T. (2022). “Give me a break!” A systematic review and meta-analysis on the efficacy of micro-breaks for increasing well-being and performancePloS one17(8), e0272460.

Hunter, E. M., & Wu, C. (2016). Give me a better break: Choosing workday break activities to maximize resource recoveryThe Journal of applied psychology101(2), 302–311.

Why your brain needs more downtime” – Scientific American