A Gift For Yourself This Mother’s Day: Practical Self Care for Busy Moms
May 10, 2023 | Stephanie Rondeau
It’s no secret that moms need to practice self care. You hear it all the time—you can’t pour from an empty cup. But what if you don’t have a village around that you can lean on? What if a few minutes of solo time sounds about as realistic as a trip to Mars?
That’s the reality for many moms today. They’re feeling burnt out, exhausted, and asking them to practice self care just feels like one more thing on an already over-full plate.
Instead of thinking of self care as hours at the gym or a leisurely afternoon doing your favorite things, it might be more realistic to break self care down into micro-care rituals. These small practices build up over time to increase your mental, emotional and physical well-being, but won’t necessarily need extra child care or loads of spare time.
Before thinking about ways to practice self care, let’s consider what self care isn’t. Trips to the grocery store or other errands that must be done to help keep the family running? Not self care.Taking a shower? Not self care. While a long, leisurely shower can be wonderful, remember that you deserve time outside of basic personal hygiene.
Here are somemicro-care activities to add to your daily or weekly routine. Start small with one or two, and expand or shift over time as your schedule allows.
- Schedule it – Self care might seem less fun when it’s blocked off on a calendar, but sometimes that’s the only way to make sure that all of your time isn’t given to others. Look at your week. Does your partner have downtime on a certain day when they can take over with the kids for a bit? Do you have a morning without any meetings where you can block off thirty (or even ten or twenty) minutes for yourself? Get those times on the calendar and stick to them.
- Reading and screen-free time. How often do you spend your last moments before sleep scrolling through your phone or on social media? Give yourself a double win by putting screens away for at least 30 minutes before bed. Consider picking up a book or a crossword puzzle instead. Decreasing the blue light exposure from the screens will improve sleep, and using that time for a relaxing activity will help fill up your self care cup. Win win.
- Journaling. You can journal to explore and work through feelings about things in your life, to embrace gratitude, or simply to document moments of your day. This time is for you, for whatever you want or need to get out of it. Journaling actually helps us accept rather than judge our mental experiences and results in fewer negative emotions in response to stress. It’s also another great way to wind down without a screen before bed.
- Positive affirmations – Never forget that while your children are worthy of your love and nurturing, you are as well. Take small moments to acknowledge yourself and all the wonderful things about you—even if you’re having a hard time believing them right now. This can be as simple as small messages stuck to your mirror or bedside table. Over time, positive phrases that you read repeatedly and verbalize will transform the way you think about yourself. This change in mindset could open up more emotional freedom to seek out other opportunities for self care.
- Coloring – You don’t have to be a talented artist to reap the benefits of time spent tapping into your creativity. Take a few minutes and start with some quick doodles, and see where your imagination takes you. There are also adult coloring books if you don’t want to draw on your own. This is a great brain calming, meditative activity that you can do for a few minutes at a time. Try starting or ending your day with five to ten minutes of creative exploration and see how it evolves over time.
- Meditation – Meditation or mindfulness practices can be done in as little as five minutes. They take practice, but anyone can do it. Consider seeking quick, guided meditations either online or through an app on your phone. Or simply take five to ten minutes to breathe, relaxing your body and mind. Use your senses to listen to all the sounds around you while breathing deeply. Meditation and mindfulness practices offer many health benefits including decreased stress, lower blood pressure, and improved sleep, among others.
- Spend time in nature – Time in nature has been proven to reduce stress, improve mood, and increase happiness. If you are able to, consider taking at least one short break per day to be outside, distraction free, and breathe in the fresh air. Green and blue (near water) spaces are ideal, but if all you have is a single tree outside of your apartment building, that’s better than nothing. Outdoor air is different than indoors and once you walk over your threshold you may find yourself feeling more open and receptive.If you are able, consider fully immersing yourself in nature, such as a quiet walk through a forest or park, whenever possible.
Taking small moments throughout your day to practice self care will help you recharge your own batteries without adding yet another thing on your to do list. And remember, you are a role model for your kids. The way you care for yourself will strongly influence how they will care for themselves as adults. For more ideas about taking care of yourself as a busy parent, please check out our library, Family Mental and Physical Wellness. In addition, visit our calendar for upcoming live, interactive workshops on this topic and many more.