The Busy Mom’s Guide to Self-Care That Works

When time and patience are limited, what can you do to get grounded and feel good fast?

In 2018, I wrote about self-care for busy moms, offering you some of the best tips and tricks I could find from experts. Self-care is always evolving and what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another. So I’m back today with another selection of helpful hints on fitting in self-care from the people who know firsthand just how hard it is: busy moms.

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Take a mama time out

Dena Farash, founder of The Mindful Mom Revolution, offered up this simple and easy tip for relieving stress and tension in a hurry. She suggests that when you feel overwhelmed by your kids (and let’s be honest, we all feel overwhelmed by them at some point!), take a mommy time out.

Simply step outside for a minute or two, put your feet on the ground and take a moment. When you return to momming, you’ll feel more calm and grounded than you did before.

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Give yourself 5–10 minutes a day

Talya Knable, psychotherapist, mom of two, and blogger at The Mother Fix, suggests that you set aside just 5–10 minutes a day for yourself. She points out that self-care does not have to mean an hour-long massage.

Instead, Talya suggests getting up a few minutes early to savor a cup of coffee by yourself or taking a few minutes to sit alone in a quiet room and breathing deeply at mid-day. Even a few extra minutes as you take the long way home from work or the grocery store, listening to the radio, can be enough to help you push through your day.

Look for instant boosts

Lisa Lewtan is a health & lifestyle coach, author, radio host and speaker. She offers up an excellent tip in her suggestion to look for instant boosts such as:

· Sitting in silence for 5 minutes, simply breathing and replenishing, for an instant boost in tranquility

· Dancing around in your undies to some music for a few minutes for an instant boost in happiness

· Read some inspirational passages from a book for an instant boost of optimism

None of these things would take more than a few minutes, but the benefits could last for hours — maybe even days!

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Allow for independent play for everyone

Danielle Pientka is a craft blogger and author as well as a mom of three. Her suggestion is geared toward moms with small children, but it’s one that we sometimes don’t think of on our own. She suggests setting up a safe area in which your littles can play on their own. Set up your own “play” area nearby where you can read, knit, sew, or whatever your hobby is while the kids enjoy their solo play time.

As Danielle puts it, “Part of self care is not feeling like you’ve lost a part of yourself.
You don’t need to be a martyr. Set aside time each day. I’ve found that this is good for me, but it’s also good for my kids because it helps them learn to play independently.”

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Schedule with time blocks

Chrissa is a military wife, mom of two, and founder of Physical Kitchness. She might as well change her name to Busy! She offers up a practical tip for tackling that never-ending to-do list that all moms have and wish they could set on fire.

Chrissa suggests that you time block your to-do list in 5–10 minute increments. Getting things done and checked off can make you feel accomplished, which leads to feeling more motivated to get even more done.

5–10 minute intervals might seem too small for some of your tasks. When that’s the case, consider whether those tasks can be broken into smaller chunks. Many times, we feel overwhelmed by a task because we focus on the overall picture, rather than the smaller steps it takes to achieve it. You’ll likely find that you can break down those bigger tasks into smaller chunks that do fit with that 5–10 minute time block.

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Try breathing differently

Melissa Okabe of Melissa O Yoga suggests alternate nostril breathing as a great way to quickly relax. Alternate nostril breathing is a simple technique to learn and balances and activates both sides of the brain at once, leading to a calmer mind and body by calming the nervous system.

To try it: Use your right hand and use your ring finger to close your left nostril. Exhale through the uncovered nostril, then inhale through the same nostril. Remove your ring finger and use your thumb to close off the right nostril. Exhale through the open left nostril and inhale through the same nostril. Keep repeating this inhale, exhale, switch for several minutes. It will give you a mental break and creates a cooling breath.

FYI: If you suffer from allergies like I do, you may find that this causes your nose to feel more congested than it usually does, or even to start running a bit. This doesn’t have to stop you from practicing the breath; just keep a tissue handy when you do.

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What are you craving?

This is one of my personal tips. We all know that feeling when we’re craving something specific to eat, like tacos or ice cream, and we eat something else. It leaves us feeling physically full but still craving the tacos or ice cream. The same applies to self-care. Ask yourself, what am I craving?

Are you craving more happiness? A few minutes alone? A massage? More sleep? Healthier meals? You might even be surprised at the answer that comes up when you ask yourself this question.

By asking yourself what you crave, and really listening for the answer, you can give yourself exactly what you need. While you might feel better after engaging in a random act of self-care, by giving yourself exactly what you really need, you’ll feel even greater satisfaction.

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Lighten your load

Another one of my tips is to find ways to lighten your load. Give yourself a break on dinner and order out. Take advantage of curbside service at a sit-down restaurant like Applebee’s or Chili’s for wider variety and (somewhat) healthier options.

Speaking of curbside service, restaurants aren’t the only places offering it these days. Wal-Mart, many grocery stores and even CVS Pharmacy offers curbside service. You can order your groceries online, or other things you need, then simply sit in your car and let them bring it to you. It’s faster and easier, particularly when you’ve got small kids in tow.

Take it one step further and use an app that does the shopping for you and delivers it right to your door. If this feels too indulgent for regular daily use, keep it in mind for times when you or the kids are sick or injured.

There’s no reason to do all the heavy lifting yourself. Let others do for you so you can take a few minutes for yourself — even if it’s just a few minutes sitting in the car.

What are your self-care tips?

Whether you’re a busy mom or not, what self-care tips do you have? From basic to advanced, a few minutes to a few hours or days, what do you do to take care of you?

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