Accountability Support Groups For Parents: How To Form One & Why You Should
In the current climate, we wager few parents are actually taking the time they need to care for themselves, create healthy habits, set their own goals, and so much more. Given we're all so cut off from each other, it can also likely feel like you're going on this journey alone. And that's a pretty terrible feeling to deal with.
That's why Erica Lasan, coach and founder of JOYrney To Purpose, says it's vital to find a community to help you feel supported—and most notably, help keep you accountable so you are meeting your goals, keeping yourself healthy, and taking time for self-care. See, when it's just you, it can be hard to convince yourself that you deserve to prioritize your own joy—so have others do it for you.
"It's super important to have people around you to hold you accountable to take care of yourself, because well, it's for you," says Lasan. "If you leave yourself to yourself, you're more likely to put yourself on the back burner."
Why you should form an accountability support group.
It's something parents hear so often: You can't take care of others if you're not taking care of yourself. "You always want to make sure you're being your best for your kids: We so often think that taking care of them first is the way to do that, but in reality taking care of yourself first is how we accomplish being good parents and the fullest version of yourself," says Lasan.
This is so much easier said than done. ("Life and time happen. The world is constantly coming at you," says Lasan.) And having others hold you accountable for taking care of your needs is a way to make this more doable.
"You know that you're not alone. You know that you can tap into the resources of those around you. As parents we get caught up in the idea of no one gets it; I'm all alone in this. I'm just so overwhelmed and not able to take care of myself. But if you have people around who know what you should be doing, they can help refocus you," she says. "This will ultimately help your family: living in your joy helps everyone around you."
This will help in more ways than one: "It also just creates a built-in crew that you can ask for support when you need it," she says, noting that a big problem is that people don't know where to turn in times of need. But if you already have a community in your corner, you know exactly where to go.
Not only that but your support group can not only help you focus on yourself, but they can encourage you to reach for your professional goals—even those that you may have been putting off lately. "This is so important because kids need to see their parents finding their purpose. This will show them, I can do this too. They learn their dreams aren't limited, so you're teaching them in these moments, and still being a great parent," she says. "Not to mention, you have no idea where your personal goals will take you and your family. You are helping no one by putting it on the back burner."
How to form an accountability group.
There are several easy ways to create a core group of folks to help support you, says Lasan.
- "Start where you are," she says. Think about the people you already talk to regularly; is there anyone who you think may be a good accountability partner?
- Once you've identified a person or a few people, tell them your intentions and goals and explain to them you want their support in the process. "Fill them in on what's happening and your plans," she says. "Then it's as simple as asking them to hold you accountable, ask them to check in on you. This will help you take care of yourself and also regularly remind you that people are invested in you and care about you."
- Then—and this is important—don't be frustrated when they actually do it. "Remember, it's out of love; these people want the best for you and to have your best self realized," Lasan says.
- And always reciprocate the ask: See if your accountability partner or crew has something they want to be helped with, big or small. "Accountability is best when it's not one-sided," she says.
Another avenue is to find and join an online program that can act as a virtual support group. Look for programs that can accommodate your life and needs: Like, say, if one of your goals is to eat healthier for yourself or as a family, you can join an online nutrition program. Or if it's important to take care of your body, buy a subscription to a virtual yoga studio. Lasan's Live Rich Movement Challenge does a monthly goal with the followers: the goals range from becoming a morning person to taking a social media break.
Taking care of yourself and your goals can be challenging for anyone—and it can feel like even more of an impossibility when you are a parent. So much of your time and effort is spent making sure your kid is at their best, but you should focus some of that attention on yourself, too. One way to make sure you're doing this consistently is through an accountability group that can regularly check in on you.