Parenting and Self-Care: An Interview with YA Author Stephanie Eding

Stephanie Eding lives in Ohio with her husband Matt and two child comedians. She spends her days drinking coffee, working as a freelance editor, and snuggling her three wild-eyed cats. Stephanie always wanted to be a pirate but settled for writing about them to keep out of prison.

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I have been lucky enough to call Stephanie Eding a CP and friend since we shared a CampNaNo cabin in…umm, 2014? Ish. Stephanie’s books are full of fun and adventure–which you can learn for yourself by checking out her debut novel, UNANCHORED! She’s also a savvy editor, a kickass friend, and a fantastic mom.

As the mother of a two-year-old, the topic of Parenting and Self-Care is close to my heart–though I still think Stephanie’s tips are pretty universal.

Why is it challenging to prioritize self-care as a parent and a self-employed author and editor?

I think the main thing that challenges me in this is that editing is a full-time job. Writing is a full-time hobby. And parenting is all day/every day. That puts an awful lot onto one’s plate and really leaves no time for relaxation. My biggest challenge is that I always feel behind. It doesn’t matter how much work I did during the day, what state of cleanliness my house is in, or how early my kids go to bed—I am always behind on everything.

 

Do you think it’s important to practice self-care as a parent? As a writer?

Oh, so much yes! I have pushed myself to breaking points in both areas, but the longer I’m in “business”, the more I see the importance of pausing to fill my cup. If I’m depleted, I’m going to be short with my children. That only makes an already tense situation way, way worse! My kiddos deserve the best from me, not whatever I have left after I’ve been completely drained. As a writer, if my brain is exhausted, I can sit myself at the computer all day long and never come up with anything worth sharing. It’s just a waste of time at that point.

 

When do you know you’re at a breaking point?

I consider myself a very calm mother. It takes quite a bit to really set me off (like the 7-zillionth bathroom joke during a 2-hour car ride!) But when I’m running on empty, I find myself losing it over the tiniest infraction. Often, that involves tears—from me! I also tend to get this kind of nervous energy that usually signals my body/brain has had more than enough, and it’s time to settle down.

 

What does self care look like to you?

Self-care looks different for me each week. Sometimes, I need to completely power down. I’m a habitual multi-tasker. When I can’t find rest or relaxation because I keep finding something to do, I just need to soak in a lavender bath—it’s the only thing that guarantees I won’t be multi-tasking while I do it! Other nights, I like to paint my nails and watch a comedy show. When I get my nervous energy strikes, I try to take a walk outside or hop on the treadmill and listen to some music to sweat it out a bit. Not all of my courses work every time I need a reboot. Sometimes, it takes a little trial and error–or just an extra early bedtime!

 

If a parent has only ten minutes in a day to practice a bit of self care, what would you recommend?

One of my favorite things to do is to take an end-of-day shower. It kind of feels like washing off all the day’s stress. I try to imagine the tension running down the drain with the bubbles and often put on some instrumental tunes on my phone. It calms me down a lot before I crawl into bed for the night.

 

Is there anything you’d like to add — additional tips or final thoughts?

One thing I feel really passionate about is that we really need to cut ourselves some slack. With access to the entire world at our fingertips these days, it’s so easy to get caught up in comparing ourselves with others. Life almost becomes an unspoken competition. We can’t take a break with writing because if we do, we’ll never get that huge book deal. We have to push, push, push for our kids to have the best of everything, because Jane Doe just posted pictures on Facebook of the ocean-side unicorn tea party she had for her daughter’s half-birthday. And we don’t want to be that parent who gave her kids McDonald’s chicken nuggets and a SpongeBob marathon for the sixth night in a row. The truth is, being a parent is really stinking hard. Being a writer is really stinking hard! It’s 110% OK to step back when you need to, regroup, and give yourself a break. You absolutely deserve some time to focus solely on yourself and your health, because you are invaluable and amazing. You are enough in every way.

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More in the self-care series