When you’re a busy mom, sometimes it feels like you’re just running from one thing to another to get through the day. It’s important to do things for you, however, so you don’t end up burnt out, overwhelmed, and exhausted. Wouldn’t you love to be a happier mom?
Of course, adding more things to your to-do list might feel like it’s just going to make things worse. But the ideas listed here are all simple, quick things you can do throughout your day to improve your happiness, mood, and energy levels. None of them take more than 15 minutes (unless you want them to), and they also don’t require you to buy anything (again, unless you want to).
You can pick and choose among these, but I recommend all 10 for the most benefit.
Start your day with a few minutes of meditation. Whether you can only find 5 minutes, or as much as 15, this is a quiet, soothing way to start your day so you feel ahead of the game. You can do a guided meditation, listen to nature sounds, or simply sit in complete silence for a mindful meditation. By taking the time to sit quietly in the calm before the day starts, you center yourself and feel more stable for whatever the day throws at you.
If you want to increase the benefits of meditation, you can also meditate at the end of the day before you go to bed. This will help you wind down, leading to falling asleep faster, sleeping more deeply, and feeling more rested.
2. Do one thing that makes you feel ‘pretty.’
I get it — there’s no time to shower, shave, do your hair, put on a full face of makeup and dress to the nines. But there is time to do one thing every day. It might be putting on some lipstick or lip gloss. Maybe it’s doing your hair — or just brushing it. It could be as simple as spritzing on some perfume even if you never get out of your robe. Maybe it’s paying for a manicure once a week that lasts the whole week.
Whatever it is, this one small thing that you do every day will help you feel more put together, even if you’re otherwise not at all put together. And that one small accomplishment, even if it’s the only thing you can say you got done at the end of the day, is enough. It’ll also just plain make you feel better, which will give you more energy and a better mood.
3. Compliment yourself.
We all know how nice it is to hear our partner or our children or a friend tell us our hair looks great, or we’re beautiful, or we did a great job on dinner. But we can’t always count on anyone else complimenting us. If our partner had a bad day, or our kids are still small (or self-obsessed teens), or it’s just a regular average day, we may not hear any nice things about ourselves from anyone but ourselves.
So give yourself a compliment. Whether it’s “My hair looks amazing today!” or “I made the best pancakes for breakfast!” Find something to compliment yourself on, big or small. And don’t worry that complimenting yourself means you’re bragging or thinking too much of yourself. Recognizing good things about yourself is a good thing, and it will make you feel proud and happy.
4. Find at least 3 things to be grateful for.
A delicious cup of coffee — or a cup of coffee that you got to finish while it was still hot. A good meal. That your partner got home from work safely. That no one threw a tantrum today. There are probably hundreds of small things every day that you can find gratitude for, but because we don’t always look for them, we miss them. But we do see all the frustrating, annoying, and otherwise bad things.
Take time to look for at least three things every day that you can be grateful for. Keep a running list of them in a journal or on your phone, and refer back to it when you’re struggling. Seeing all the things that you’ve been grateful for in the past can not only help put a bad day in perspective, but also help you find things to be grateful for on that bad day.
5. Cut yourself a little slack.
As moms, we can be really hard on ourselves. We feel guilty for buying precut veggies or fruits instead of whole ones, or for buying cheese puffs or ice cream. We feel bad when we yell, and bad when we’re too permissive. We feel embarrassed if we don’t get the bathroom clean, and stress if we forget a load of laundry in the washer overnight.
But you have a lot on your plate. You’re raising human beings from tiny creatures who need you for everything into functional adults who can then raise their own babies. That requires a lot of mental, physical, and emotional labor. Sometimes, things will fall through the cracks. It happens, and you don’t need to feel guilty. As long as, at the end of the day, everyone is clothed, sheltered, fed, and still breathing, call it a win.
6. Find 5–30 minutes to do something just for you.
Whether you choose to savor a piece of chocolate alone, read a chapter of a book, take a shower, or even just pee all by yourself, find a few minutes every day to do something that is just for you. It doesn’t need to be anything productive, and it shouldn’t benefit anyone other than yourself. It should be something you enjoy and give you something to look forward to each day.
As the saying goes, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” If all you ever do is take care of everyone else, you’ll be exhausted, burnt out and eventually lose it. By having something to look forward to every day that is for just you, even if it’s just five minutes to eat a mini Snickers bar, you give yourself a little extra love. It doesn’t have to be the same thing every day, either — change it up. Just have that few minutes every day to look forward to.
7. Get some physical activity.
If you’re scrubbing toilets, washing dishes, folding laundry, and running after kids all day, you’re probably thinking you get plenty of physical activity. And you do. But it’s important to have a little fun with it, too. Yoga, a walk around the block, a bike ride, or something else that you enjoy and gets you moving.
Your body gets used to doing the same activities over and over, so shaking it up with some additional exercise that isn’t related to raising kids, cleaning house or working can help keep you in shape and get your heart pumping. Get the kids involved, too. Go for a family walk or bike ride, play hide-and-seek, or kick a soccer ball around as a family.
8. Get your rest.
You can’t stop an infant from waking you because they’re hungry or need a diaper change. Nor can you stop a toddler who’s had a bad dream or is sick, or an older kid who got sick or is stressed. But what you can do is make sure that you take all the steps possible to ensure a good night’s sleep. Leave the dishes overnight, let the laundry go unfolded, or record your favorite show to watch while you eat breakfast.
Getting enough sleep ensures that you don’t binge on sugar for energy, overeat, or snap at your kids or your partner over minor things. It also prevents you driving while you’re too tired or relying on caffeine to get through a busy day.
9. Eat healthy, real meals.
We all know that sometimes lunch is made up of a few leftover bites of mac and cheese and half a hot dog from our kid’s plate. The problem with that is that it’s often not enough, and it may or may not be healthy, depending on your kid’s food preferences. It’s important that you eat regular, healthy, real meals throughout the day. By eating on a fairly consistent schedule, you ensure that you don’t deal with blood sugar spikes and dips that will affect your mood and your energy levels.
This doesn’t mean you can’t stop at a fast food place sometimes for a meal, or rely on some processed foods to make part of your meal. It does mean, though, that you should make a plate for yourself when you make a plate for your kids or your partner. It also means not skipping a meal in favor of a protein bar or a few crumbs to save time. Taking the time to eat will boost your energy and make it easier for you to get through the rest of your day.
10. Have adult interaction.
Being a mom often means lots of childish conversations (at least until the kids get older), and lots of conversations that revolve around the kids. Some adult interaction that isn’t all about the kids is necessary. Whether that’s calling a friend to chat, going to work, or talking to your partner when they arrive home at night, you need that time.
If adult interaction means sex to you, that works too. The point is to say or do something with another adult that reminds you that you are more than just a mom. It’s too easy to get caught up in being someone’s mom and forget that you are also a whole woman entirely on your own. You can change up your adult interaction from day to day, too. What you do isn’t as important as making sure that you do it.
By incorporating these ten simple tips into your daily life, you’ll improve your mood, boost your energy, and that will make you an even better mother and partner than you already are.