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Moms are quite possibly the busiest people on the planet, whether you work or stay at home. Just the other day, I went to the nail salon, and like most of my nail salon visits, my conversations with the nail tech revolved around my mom adventures. Though I’m a stay at home mom and she was a working mom, we both shared the joys and frustrations of feeling like we as moms NEVER get a break! We also shared that regardless of our life circumstances, it can be so hard to prioritize self care as a busy mom.
It’s no secret that moms are notorious for putting themselves last. A study done by Healthy Women and Working Mother stated that a staggering 78% of moms report they often put off taking care of themselves or getting their health appointments made because they are so busy taking care of other family members’ health. Unfortunately in our culture, moms putting their needs last is considered the norm.
So how does a busy mom take back their time (or what they have left of it), and give back to themselves? By prioritizing self care!
Why Prioritize Self Care?
Have you heard the phrase, “you can’t pour from an empty cup?”
Well, there’s some psychological truth to that! People who neglect taking care of themselves leave themselves vulnerable to a myriad of physical and mental illnesses caused by stress. These illnesses and ailments include burnout, chronic pain, fatigue, digestive issues, depression, anxiety, and even autoimmune diseases.
When you constantly pour out from an empty cup, you’re not being selfless, you’re being self destructive.
So even taking just a few minutes a day to do something to unwind can make a world of difference. But as a mom, I know finding time for myself feels like an impossible task.
The truth is, most self help books make self care WAY harder than it should be. It doesn’t require much, and even a little bit every day can make you feel more rejuvenated and ready to mom another day.
So how does one prioritize self care when being a mom is a 24/7 job? Here’s a few tips to make self care a priority for you.
1- Find 15 (or more) minutes a day to do absolutely nothing
“But HOW am I going to find 15 minutes in my already jam packed days!?!”
If your kids take naps, take at least 15 minutes of that nap time and do NOTHING! Seriously, the dishes can wait. If you have to pick up your kids from soccer practice, get there 15 minutes early and veg out in the mini van. Do you get a lunch break at work? Put the work away, eat your sandwich, and be still for 15 minutes.
If you can’t find 15 consecutive minutes, then find 5 minutes at three different times of the day. Can you find one minute at 15 different points of the day? If you look, I’m sure those 15 minutes are somewhere in your day.
Put the other stuff off for just 15 minutes and sit down and do nothing. Remind yourself how to breathe, how to relax your shoulders, and maybe what your own thoughts sound like.
If making 15 minutes a day for yourself seems impossible still, then pay attention to the next point.
2- Take “Boundaries” out of your list of dirty words
Moms give themselves all day long, and so often we have a hard time asking in return. When we have small humans climbing on our every limb, bosses wanting 100% of our energy, spouses still winking at us at the end of the day when we feel like a bag of dirt, and a nasty house screaming in our face, we feel like we need to be the “yes” women to all those situations.
Say it with me…Saying “no” is self care!
You don’t need to be rude about it, or feel guilty about it. If something is simply sucking the life out of you at that moment, don’t be afraid to create a boundary.
If you’re feeling touched out and you need time to remember what your own skin feels like, say something like, “Mamma is feeling a little overwhelmed, I’m going to take a few minutes to myself. I love you, and when I get back I’ll be ready to play!”
If your spouse isn’t willing to be the primary parent during a time when you need alone time, say something like, “I understand you have also had a long and exhausting day. I am feeling overwhelmed and tapped out. I’m going to take just a few minutes to cool off, when I come back I will be ready to share in the parenting role together.”
If you need help learning how to set healthy boundaries in your life, I recommend this book:
3- Drink your coffee warm and alone
I’ve lost count of the amount of moms I’ve known who have worn their hours-old, lukewarm coffee like a badge of honor. You DESERVE warm, fresh coffee
If you can, get up just a few minutes earlier than usual, brew yourself your preferred cup of joe (or tea), and drink your coffee in peace!
If your kids beat you to the punch at waking up early, then feel free to take a look at #2 and draw a boundary around your morning coffee time. Ask your spouse if they could spare 5 minutes out of their morning and make some coffee for you. Or invest in an Ember mug and get your coffee warm all the time.
And then…once your coffee is warm, drink it in peace. If your kids are already awake, don’t be embarrassed to start the day with screen time, or encourage quiet play time for a few minutes in the morning. Those few minutes of peace in the morning can make a world of difference in your mood throughout the day.
4- Take breaks from social media
Social media can be a great tool for reconnecting with family and friends, but it’s also a cesspool of drama!
I find that when I spend my time scrolling, I don’t leave feeling refreshed, I leave feeling stressed. The act of scrolling through social media is inputting information to your mind. If you’re needing self care time, you don’t need input, you need to export your stress! There are so many other things that are so much better for destressing than endlessly scrolling through social media.
Challenge yourself to take a break from social media, even if it’s just for a few minutes throughout the day. You may find yourself being less stressed, more present, less cynical, and more grateful.
5- Make yourself an actual meal…not just scraps off your kids plates
Eating food is hardly self care in my book, because it’s something you have to do in order to function. But living on a diet of PB&J scraps and half eaten cheese sticks is hardly considered good for bodily function!
One of my favorite self-care activities I have ever done was make a toddler-friendly dinner for my son, put him to bed, and then order some BOMB DoorDash for myself! Seriously, enjoying a good meal does so much for your heart, and moms often neglect such a simple thing. So feel free to eat a really good meal, even if it’s different than what your kids are eating. It’s not a bad thing for them to see you enjoying food, in fact it may even be healthy for them to see.
6- Re-evaluate your expectations
Often times we neglect taking care of ourselves because we see our household to-do lists as just too long! We put off giving ourselves a much needed break because we see all we have to do and think it must be done right away!
Hint hint….most things can wait!
Now for some people, cleaning is relaxing, and that’s wonderful! Clean on if you enjoy it! But for me, cleaning is basically torture. So when I am feeling overwhelmed and in need of some time to unwind, I give myself permission to just do the bare minimum when it comes to household upkeep.
If housework is holding you back from taking care of yourself, consider creating categories for your chores based off of their overall importance for functionality. Here’s what I mean:
- TIER 1 CHORES: These are the chores you do that keep your home just functioning. These are the BARE MINIMUM chores. For me, that’s do the dishes, feed my family and myself, feed my pets, pick up toys at the end of the day, and take care of mine and my families basic hygiene. On the days I just can’t with a huge list of chores, I stick to these tier 1 tasks and leave the rest of it for the birds!
- TIER 2 CHORES: These are other chores that are needed at some point for functionality, but you don’t need to do them every day. This would be like vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms/kitchen, laundry, outdoor work, etc. Of course, every family is different and you may need to do some of those things to function every day. But tier 2 chores are those chores that aren’t necessary to do every day or you can hold off another day for them.
- TIER 3 CHORES: these are the chores you do to make your house look really nice! Think along the lines of organizing and making things spotless. These tasks can probably wait 9 times out of 10.
When you take a hard look at what you have to do and organize them based off their actual priority, you may find you have more time for yourself than you thought.
7- Pick up a new (or old) hobby
One of the simplest things you can do to prioritize self care is to practice a hobby, and by hobbies we don’t mean shopping at Target. Sometimes after having kids, we abandon those hobbies because we don’t have time for them. But even a few minutes doing something you love is better than nothing.
So go sit at your piano again, or pick up a paint brush, or even a remote controller! Just like your kids may have hobbies, you’re allowed to have them too!
8- Get some rest (and maybe some sleep too)
Sleep is such a tricky thing to talk to moms about. Some mom co-sleep, some are up multiple times a night with their kids, and some are newborn moms with hungry babies in the middle of the night. Even mentioning the word “sleep” to moms can feel triggering!
Which is why I’m not telling you to sleep, I’m telling you to rest.
So often we tell ourselves to sleep more, but we know that may not be in our power. But even just laying in bed and being still is better than nothing. Even those times when your baby is sleeping on you and you can’t sleep, giving yourself permission to rest is good enough.
9- Speak kindly to yourself
How you talk to yourself is one of the simplest, and also one of the most difficult forms of self-care. How often do you find yourself beating yourself up about every little thing you do wrong?
Making a habit out of giving yourself grace could be exactly the ripple effect you need to get up and take care of yourself. Not only will speaking kindly to yourself be good for you, but it sets a great example to your family as well. Research even shows that having self compassion can promote many other healthy habits as well.
10- Put yourself on your schedule
We schedule everything else for everyone else, except for ourselves! So don’t be afraid to put yourself on your own schedule.
I actually write out blocks of self care time into my calendar, that way I remember to give myself time to relax throughout the day. Some people set alarms for themselves so they don’t miss out on self-care time. Others write it down and put it on the fridge. Regardless of how you like to do your scheduling, making an actual plan for self care can be all you need to actually do it.
Make it happen!
You deserve to take care of yourself! I hear so many moms say they feel selfish when they do something for themselves, even if that something only takes a few minutes. But let me remind you of a big point I made at the beginning of this post:
When you constantly pour out from an empty cup, you’re not being selfless, you’re being self destructive.
It is not selfish to take care of yourself. When you take care of yourself above just your basic needs, you’re giving yourself the energy to give back to others. You will be a better mom when you stop ignoring yourself and start taking care of yourself.
How do you prioritize self-care? Let me know!