Self-Care. It’s essential for survival. We all know this. We’re aware that we should be getting 10 hours of sleep every night and drinking an organic green juice before our mindful meditation class, conveniently scheduled after preschool drop-off (This sounds fabulous, no shade if you manage this. Please tell me your ways). Pinterest tells you that self-care for moms is SO EASY. Just join a book club, have a mindful moment with your kids, and read this article about 5 Things you MUST do every day. So. Easy.
I mean. Ok. Sure. But how about some realistic self care tips for busy moms?
ealistically self-care is a bit more complicated. I get it. Like, really. Over here, I have a husband who works long hours and on-call hours. He’s gone for an entire weekend at least once a month, often more. I have a child with Type 1 Diabetes, so babysitters who haven’t had extensive medical training are out.
So yeah, it’s complicated. But I’m confident it’s not impossible. You can carve out some time to yourself if you’re willing to get creative, willing to look a little silly, and willing to adapt your standards a bit. I’ve been working on finding ways to get that “me time” in, even when the situation is less than ideal.
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Don’t feel guilty for taking care of yourself, Mama!
Here’s a thing that I’ve been guilty of – I have a couple hours to myself, and I end up running household errands as fast as humanly possible so as not to inconvenience my husband, who is at home with the kids he is equally responsible for.
And here’s the thing – this guilt does not come from him. My husband has never once insinuated that I should sacrifice my mental health for the sake of being home to microwave frozen nuggets so he doesn’t have to. He, in fact, encourages me to take care of myself.
Remember – your mood sets the tone for the whole family. Seriously. You being in a good place emotionally is taking care of your kids. You being in a good place emotionally is good for your relationships – marriage, friendships, family relationships, all of it.
Self Care Suggestion: When your partner gets home from work, get in the car, drive away, and don’t come home for dinner. The idea that you don’t have to do dinner or bedtime is basically a luxury vacation.
Ditch the all or nothing self-care attitude
Self care isn’t always a whole afternoon away. The best types of self care to practice are the smallest moments that you steal everyday that keep you from totally losing your ever loving mind over the smallest thing one day.
Seriously. Ten minutes of joy is better than zero minutes of joy.
Self Care Suggestion: Give your kids the iPad (no guilt, remember!?!) and take a twenty-minute power nap on the sofa next to them. Do this every freaking day if you need to.
Find a childcare solution for some “me time”
You need a break from your kids. Because no one wants an “inmates running the asylum” situation.
You’ve got to get creative sometimes. Do you have a local rec center that offers childcare? My local community center has a childcare room for like $3/hr. You can’t leave the building BUT you can definitely pay for two hours, workout for one and drink coffee in the lobby while perusing Pinterest for the other.
Play cafes, gym daycares, metro park day camps, a mother’s helper, daycare teachers, and other parents are all great options to look into if you need a little break. If you are worried about allergies, medical issues, or behavioral issues – talk to your doctor about support groups in your area. You might find a family that has a child with similar concerns who you could swap babysitting with, or ask for recommendations.
Self Care Suggestion: Swap babysitting with another mom you trust. If you are hesitant to leave your kids with someone right away, work out a two-hour “play date” where you are all in the same location, but one parent is “on” for an hour and then you switch.
Make Time for Things that Recharge you
Make a list of the stuff that fills you up. Things that make you happy, make you feel like a better person, the things that you filled your life with before you had kids. Your hobbies, or hobbies you’d like to have. Put the big stuff on there, but don’t forget the little tiny things that give you a lift.
This list is important! These are things that only you can do for yourself. This list is full of the things that you can take ownership of.
Once you have your list, you can get really clear about the things you should be spending your free time on. Is Netflix or Instagram scrolling really filling you up or *sparking joy*? Probably not. Start replacing the stuff that doesn’t recharge you with the things that do.
After the kids go to bed dig into a really good book you’ve been meaning to read, start a YouTube channel or write in your journal. Convinced you don’t have time to exercise? Try doing pushups or running your stairs while your kids take 9,000 hours to finish four bites of hotdog instead of mindlessly scrolling Facebook.
Self Care Suggestion: When it’s time to cook dinner, hand your kids off to your partner or their favorite guardian (Netflix). Turn up your favorite music LOUD, pour yourself a glass of wine and dance around the kitchen while you cook. Your family might think you’ve lost it, but I promise the endorphins will be worth it. Also, the loud music drowns out any complaints about your cooking.
Self-Care = A dose of Vitamin N
Nature. I’m talking about nature. Getting outside with or without your kids is good for you. Science says so. Spending time in nature is proven to reduce your risk of depression and reduce stress. If you are reading this blog and thinking, I have like zero dollars and no babysitting options so what now? My answer is: go for a hike.
Find a local park, metro park, state park, or national park close to you and go for a walk. Even if you walk a half mile it’s still better than nothing. And it might not always be easy to take your kids, but here’s some food for thought: Kids who go for a hike are kids who to bed early. Just saying.
Self Care Suggestion: Google your address, Click “nearby” and search for “trails”. This should bring up a good list of the various parks and trails in your area. Pick one that also has a playground, you can bribe the kiddos with it if they hike with you.
You are responsible for your own self-care
Self-care is something only you can do for yourself.
No one else can do it. No one else can prioritize it, schedule it, or make it valuable if you don’t.
So get creative, be flexible, and be willing to give up a little bit of control and take care of yourself. Because being in a good place emotionally is taking care of your kids. B