Too often, we believe that being a good mom means putting everyone ahead of ourselves. The fact is, if we don’t take care of ourselves, we get burnt out. We lose patience and emotional balance and often find ourselves doing things we don’t want to do, like yelling. Self-care for busy moms is neither a joke nor a frill. It’s a crucial part of your life, and you need to make time for it.
You don’t need to clear a whole day, or even a whole hour, to find time for self-care. As little as 10 minutes can be enough to do the trick. Get up early, stay up late, do it each day or once a week — there are no hard and fast rules. The point is simply to make sure you do it.
Self-Care for the Busy Mom (Straight From the Experts!)
I found some self-care experts, many of whom are busy moms themselves and asked them for their best hints. What you’ll find here are some seriously great tips from women who have used them personally, and all of them can be done quickly and easily. As a bonus, most of them don’t require buying anything to do them, which means you can do them right now. And if they do require buying anything, it’s within easy reach at a local store or on Amazon and cheap.
Let’s get started!
Let Go of Guilt
This one is from Grace Derocha, a registered dietician, certified diabetes educator, and certified health coach at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. She says it’s important to find time to step away from the duties of being a wife and/or mom to pursue your individual interests and goals. Of course, to do that, you have to let go of the guilt.
This tip is listed first because that guilt is often the stumbling block that keeps moms from taking the time for themselves in the first place. Letting go of the guilt is the first step toward not only taking the time for yourself, but enjoying it.
Plus, this Forbes article outlines seven science-backed reasons to spend time alone — and one of them is that it sets a great example for your kids!
“Supercharge” a Gratitude List
Sharon Roemmel, Well Life Coach at Practically Enlightened You, provided this great tip about finding one thing each day to be grateful for before you go to sleep. She suggests taking five minutes at the end of each day to write those grateful thoughts in a gratitude journal.
She also advises adding some “I am” affirmations, affirming who you want to be even if you aren’t quite there. These could include statements such as, “I am a strong woman,” “I am confident,” or even “I am gorgeous.”
I would add, on a day when you feel your parenting wasn’t quite up to par, don’t forget to include “I am a great mom.” No, really — just the fact that you feel like you weren’t up to snuff shows that you’re a great mom because you care about how well you parented that day!
Raise Independent Children
Okay, I admit this one takes longer than 10 minutes. But you’re already raising the kids, so why not make your job a little easier? Terra Wellington, lifestyle personality and author, believes that good self-care means teaching your kids to be independent as they grow up.
The more your kids can do for themselves, the less you have to do for them — and the more time you have for you. Naturally, this is not to suggest that you should have your two-year-old pressure-washing the driveway and your eight-year-old driving carpool. But you can teach even small children how to get their own breakfast from some easy grab-and-go options that are within reach in the kitchen, and by the age of 10 or 11, most kids are able to do their own laundry.
If you’re a single mom, in particular, this one can be crucial. You have the whole load as a single parent. Splitting the household chores with your kids lightens your load, teaches them independence. It also ensures that you’re not left feeling like the house is falling apart around you.
Besides, isn’t the point of good parenting that you work yourself out of a job?
Do a Self-Care Challenge
Miste M. Anders-Clemons, a Master Certified Life Coach, suggests finding a self-care challenge that you can find on Pinterest or Facebook.
I did a quick search on Pinterest as I was writing this post and found a ton. I will admit that some of the challenges do include activities that might take more time than you have to invest. You may have to spend some time digging through to find a challenge that has nothing but quick self-care options, but I promise you it’s worth it.
You could even cobble together your own challenge by taking the best, quick activities from multiple challenges and putting them together. (If you do that, come back and share it with the rest of us in the comments, though, please?)
Make Silly Faces in the Mirror
I don’t know about you, but I’m guilty of taking myself too seriously at some points. As much as I don’t usually care what people think of me, I can forget and start to feel the pressure to conform: to dress like others, to worry about what they think of the way I look or dance or walk or… yeah, I think you get the point.
So this tip, courtesy of Milana Perepyolkina, author of Gypsy Energy Secrets: Turning a Bad Day into a Good Day No Matter What Life Throws at You, really resonates with me. She says to look at yourself in the mirror and make silly faces. Life is too serious, and it’s important to remember how fun it is to be silly.
The best part of this one is that you don’t have to be alone to do it. Do it with your kids, your husband, your friends, or even the family pet. Everyone will laugh, and when you’re done, you won’t be the only one who’s benefited from a little self-care.
Do What You Are Doing
Lauren Hartz, Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice and busy mom to two little boys, offers this advice. Another way of saying, “Be present,” her advice reminds you to do whatever you are doing. No more multitasking — at least not all the time!
She suggests finding a few chances throughout the day to use all your senses to do what you are doing. Things like: watching as you pour your coffee, notice how it smells and feels to massage lotion into your hands, or notice your child’s freckles as they do homework.
Immerse yourself in these moments and use them as anchors to ground you to your day and your life. It will make average tasks feel special and leave you feeling more content.
Take a Shower
Single mom Rachel suggests a basic, but awesome self-care option: take a shower. It’s fast — you can do it in less than 10 minutes. The warm (or cool, depending on the season!) water will soothe tense muscles, drown out all other sounds, and leave you clean and refreshed.
You can even do a shower meditation: as you wash your body, pretend you’re washing away your worries, stresses, and tensions. Imagine them going down the drain and feeling lighter and less stressed when you get out of the shower.
Choose Your Tribe Wisely
Lauren provides a second great tip when she says to notice how you feel after interacting with people, and choose wisely whether to go on with those tie-ups. If your mom makes you stressed, maybe you shouldn’t spend a lot of time talking to her. But if you have a friend with whom you always connect and you feel refreshed and energized after talking to her, you might want to spend more time with her.
In some cases, this may lead you to reassess serious romances. Other times, it might cause you to think long and hard when someone from your past tries to re-enter your life. I can tell you from first-hand experience, though, that getting rid of (or at least limiting) the presence of people who annoy you or stress you out can make you feel so much lighter and happier.
Taking Care of You Is Better for Everyone
When you feel like you can’t find time for self-care, or that guilt starts creeping up on you again, keep in mind one thing. Taking care of you makes life better for all. As the mom, you set the tone for the whole family. If you’re stressed, annoyed, or tense, everyone will feel it. They’ll also feel it if you’re relaxed, happy, and free.
Take the time you need for you. Enjoy it. Come back to being Mom with a full cup and a free heart. And bare feet, because who needs shoes, right?