What You’ll Find Inside: Fitting in self-care can be tricky as a busy mom. We make all kinds of excuses about why we’re “fine” and how someone else needs us more at the moment. We don’t have time to fit in self-care. Or do we? Find out how you can fit self-care into your day without adding more to your plate with these 7 simple tips.
We Moms Want to Do it All
I’m still very much in the thick of things with all these littles running around in my house, but things have changed a little in the past few years, in terms of my sanity and mental health.
I can’t pinpoint when, but there was a moment in time that things began to change. It was a moment I took to reflect on how I was caring for myself. Do you know what I discovered? I wasn’t. I wasn’t caring for my physical, mental, emotional or spiritual health. I was making excuses, telling myself and my husband I was tired and overworked, I had no time for showers, exercise, eating properly, etc. The truth? It was all a lie.
Well… sort of. The real truth? I wasn’t planning time for self-care. I was telling myself, and believing, somebody needed me at every given moment. Either the kids needed something, there was a meal to attend to, or I was grumpy having to do something I thought my husband should have taken care of (but I didn’t ask him to do.)
I was also in a mindset of “it’s got to be all or nothing.” For example, in order to feel cared for, I needed to attend a real yoga class, cook an elaborate healthful meal, spend time in nature each day, sleep through the night and wake up refreshed, shower regularly and relax with a tea nightly while listening to an audiobook or podcast. So because I could never fulfil any of those self-care rituals, I didn’t even attempt them. Silly I know, but my mind works like that sometimes.
I had it all wrong. There are always moments you can grasp and use. We can set boundaries and ask spouses, friends and babysitters for help. But it took a long time of neglecting myself to realize that.
What Can We Do?
How do we live more meaningful and mindful lives if we aren’t connecting with ourselves? If our head is full of what we have to do during the day plus our stress and worry, how can we hold that space for our children? Have you noticed the connection between self-care and mindful parenting? Or maybe you’ve noticed the connection between the lack of self-care and mindless parenting?
The easiest examples are a lack of sleep = grumpy (short-tempered, irritable, impatient) mom. A mom who doesn’t have time for basic needs like showering and going to the bathroom without kids can feel resentful. Without personal time to remember who we are and connect with our friends and passions, we can feel lonely and isolated, even in a home full of life and kids.
I know it may feel impossible to fit these things in but think creatively about time and time blocks. We get it in our head that if we could just have an hour or an afternoon to ourselves we’d feel refreshed. While that’s true, we have we can seize so many other little opportunities to care for ourselves – and what we do with those moments will either stress us out or cool the flames of stress so we can enjoy our children and lives more.
Today‘s printable is a list of my top seven self-care rituals for busy moms (who have no time for self-care). My list is a lot longer than this, to be honest, but I wanted to share with you the ones which have been the most impactful in my life. The ones I always come back to. I hope you can make time for a few of them starting today.
Bonus: Download your free printable 7 Self-Care Rituals for Busy Moms to start bringing more joy and “me time” to your parenting. It’s especially for moms who have no time for self-care 😉
The Self-Care Rituals
This list is not exhaustive and there’s one thing I wanted to add: on the introvert/extrovert scale, I’m about halfway between both. One strong tendency I have is to want to be alone to recharge, which is why I haven’t included “connect with your people” on my top 7 list of rituals.
If you’re an extrovert, that will be an important one for you, so it’s a bonus tip I wanted to add here. If you need people to feel energized, make time for calling and seeing those people.
1. LISTEN WHILE DOING CHORES
Get headphones and put on your favourite podcast or audiobook while cooking dinner, washing dishes, folding laundry or anything else mundane. The beauty of listening is that it frees your hand to do the tasks you aren’t so keen about and it ups the pleasure-value of your experience. If you can, investing in wireless headphones can up the pleasure-value even one more notch so you can truly be hands-free. I also love listening to audiobooks while driving. If I happen to get out alone even for a 15-minute drive, listening to something motivational for that time does wonders for my mindset.
Your library is a great place to look for audiobooks – some have entire online collections available for download to your device. My library subscribes to a service called Hoopla Digital which gives instant access to hundreds of thousands of audiobooks, ebooks, movies, TV shows, music and comics. I’m not sure I’d survive without it!
Hoopla is available at libraries all over the US and in many Canadian cities. You can check this map here to see if your library subscribes and if it does, you can register for free as long as you have a library card – it’s linked to your local library! With Hoopla you never have to wait for someone to check in a virtual resource (how silly is that anyway!) *I’m not affiliated with Hoopla at all, I just love it.
If you don’t have access, Audible often has great deals on audiobooks and Scribd is another great resource.
You’ll be amazed at how many books you can ‘read’ just by fitting in 10-15 minutes here and there. Trust me, you’ll look forward to that time ☺
2. FEED AND HYDRATE YOURSELF
Make time once a week to cut up veggies and portion out snacks for yourself such as nuts, seeds or your favourite protein bars. Fill your water bottle the night before so it’s ready for you. A few minutes of prep will save you from going a whole day without water and grabbing the kids’ school snacks when you’re running out the door.
If you drink smoothies, add all the ingredients you can into your blender cup or a mason jar the night before so you can just blend it quickly in the morning, no excuses.
Meal planning once a week will help save you the mental load of “what‘s for dinner,” and stop you from snacking before dinner because you’re still trying to decide what you’re making even though it’s 5:30.
If checking off lists is your thing, make yourself a habit tracker for water and snacks if it makes sense for you. Here’s a great list of habit-tracking apps you can have on your phone to help keep you on track.
Think outside of the box about exercise. You may not have time to leave the house for fitness but you can fit in jumping jacks, pushups and sit-ups–or some sun salutations- during transition times with kids.
I’ve seen those videos with the über-fit moms exercising with their infants crawling around them, using their baby as a weight, smiling and laughing with them. That is totally not me. In fact, it makes me cringe for a moment, then feel guilty because “shouldn’t I feel happy just being around my kids?” But honestly Mamas, we are all entitled to a little bit of alone time.
If you want something a little more formal, there are tons of 5-20 minute workout DVDs or YouTube work-outs you could either do in the morning or evening… maybe even naptime. Honestly, we have no excuse for not moving our bodies just a little. Yoga with Adrienne is an awesome beginner to advanced YouTube Channel with tons of 10-20 minute workouts.
At work? Use your break to walk, preferably outdoors. Resist the urge to work through your break/lunch or to scroll Facebook. Especially if you sit at a computer all day, you’ll want to get up every half hour, walk around the office or house (if you work at home) and get your blood moving before you sit back down. Your mind will be sharper once you’ve moved around. This is also a good time to connect with other adults. Find a walking buddy for your break or give a friend a call.
4. TAKE ONE LONG SHOWER A WEEK
Let’s be honest, it may be your only shower during the week! Prioritize it. Chances are the only thing standing in the way of showering regularly is you. So hand over responsibility to your spouse or put on a show. Enlist an older sibling to watch younger ones. Don’t skimp on this.
I know a mom or two who have never given up their daily showers after having kids, no matter what. I applaud them. But generally, they’ve given up time in other areas they need for themselves, such as at bedtime. We all have our hill to die on, and we all sacrifice ourselves more than we need to. But, back to showering….
There has got to be a 20-minute slot in your day someone doesn‘t need you. If not, look deep inside yourself at control tendencies and see if you can let go for enough time for a shower.
If you can shower during naptime or the moment your kids are sleeping, it may be more relaxing. If you have the same unfortunate situation as me where the bathroom shower backs on to the baby‘s room and wakes them, you must get more creative.
For quicker showers (you still need one long one though!) and if you’re at a stage where you have little ones under one, I highly recommend investing in a portable jumper to make it easy to bring your little one into the bathroom with you.
Don’t allow showers to fall down on the priority list. You need at least one shower or bath a week to feel human.
5. GET OUTSIDE AND BREATHE
Sometimes when I‘m stressed, I have a hard time getting outside. I feel compelled to stay indoors and do ‘stuff‘. But nature has an amazing way of healing, calming, recharging and slowing us down. Make time daily or at least weekly to touch a tree or flower, smell the air or listen to the rain.
When you’re outside, breathe! Take 5-10 deep breaths and soak in the fresh air. The air will do you good but the focused breathing will bring your awareness back to now, which is something we don’t do nearly as often as we could.
Often, I don’t need alone time as badly if I’m in nature. Even though things may be hairy with the kids indoors, when we all step outside or go for a walk, nature instantly transforms us. Take the time to breathe in the aromas, drink in the sights and feel the energy. Really look at what‘s around you. How are the tree barks different? What intricacies lie in a particular flower? How does the freshly cut grass or fallen snow smell?
Take the time to breathe nature in.
6. GO TO BED EARLY
Research says nearly all moms are sleep deprived. Do yourself a huge favour and go to bed before 10 pm. You will feel so much better and besides, the ‘stuff to do’ will always be there. Don’t get sucked into mind-numbing activities (like checking social media) right before bed because you know it will lead to a 20-40 minute rabbit-hole.
Set yourself up for success. Be disciplined about your time and set up routines so they will become habits.
Try some of these bedtime routines on for size:
- If you’re able to fit in dishes before the kids go for bath and bed, it’s one less job to do before your bedtime.
- Home during the day? Get into a habit of doing one complete load of laundry a day to keep the clothes piles down and lighten your load at night.
- If you’re working, pop a load in before work, move it to the dryer when you get home, then fold it quickly when the kids are in bed.
- Enlist older children to make their own lunches or even a part of their lunch. Having veggies and fruit already cut up in the fridge makes it super easy for kids to grab and pack. If you can get them making lunches the night before, even better. One more thing off your plate.
- You may find you have millions of projects to tackle before bed, if so, set up a schedule for yourself where have you one or two project nights a week. Allocate an hour or two just to your project list. On those nights, have your spouse or older children do the dishes – but put it on a schedule. Don’t leave it to a weekly negotiation or it won’t happen.
- Fill your water bottle for the next morning, make a tea in a thermos cup, set aside your breakfast ingredients and vitamins. I drink tea in the morning but the sound of the kettle wakes my youngest, so I bought a 12-hour thermal cup and make it the night before along with anything I need for my breakfast. This helps me jump into my morning routine.
- Keep electronics out of your hand for at least 30-60 minutes before bed to help ease you into slumber-mode.
- If you like reading or journalling before bed, make it a habit.
- Gentle stretches can help you sleep so maybe have a yoga mat permanently set up in your room as a reminder.
- Have a paper and pen beside your bed so if your mind is full of your to-do list, you can do a brain dump. This will help with sleep.
Then get into bed.
7. GET UP BEFORE THE KIDS
Along with going to bed early, comes the ability to wake up early.
If you’re past the all-night breast or bottle feeding stage, get up a half hour (better yet 2 hours) before the kids. Read, stretch, have tea, dream, get stuff done. You’ll feel so much more ready to face the day when the kiddos wander out of bed!
Waking even 15 minutes before my kids makes a huge difference in my mindset for the day. I can be ready to face the day as opposed to waking up responding to cries or little fingers poking me (as cute as they are).
Because kids’ wake up times can vary, it’s good to set your alarm for at least 15 minutes before the earliest wake-up time. If the kids sleep in, you’ll get extra time!
Personally, I need a reason to wake up early and a plan. If I don’t have something I want to get doing, I’ll just feel sleepy and have to fight the urge to hit snooze. This is a good time of day to do an exercise video, 5 minutes of meditation, gratitude journaling, devotional, writing, reading or anything else that feeds your soul. Set a morning routine for yourself.
Getting up before the kids may be the single most impactful ritual you use because to a large degree, you control how much free time you get.
I have super stealth tactics to get downstairs without being heard. The floorboards are creaky and so are the stairs – I have mastered where to step to be the most silent. And this will change with the seasons and humidity levels…. sounds crazy but my morning time is precious.
8. BONUS: CONNECT WITH YOUR PEOPLE!
Motherhood can be lonely and let’s be honest – all moms with kids at home are busy – which means we don’t have a ton of time to connect with each other. I didn’t include this is ritual in the cheat sheet because I originally wanted to present ideas that were completely independent of needing other people’s time. But it really is important to stay in touch with people you can relate to on a semi-regular basis. This can be a phone call or a visit and it can be weekly or monthly. It’s whatever kind and frequency of connection you need. Hearing the warm voice of a friend and remembering that you’re not alone can fill your bucket for days or even weeks.
So, are you ready to start a new routine of caring more for yourself? As you can see, it’s not all about bubble baths and spa treatments (although those are nice too!).
For your free cheatsheet of the ideas in this post, enter your email and download your copy below!
What About You?
Do you have any self-care rituals you could add to the list? Or…if you don’t, what’s holding you back from fitting in a little self-love?