Question for overwhelmed and busy moms: what does your self-care routine look like?
Oh, wait. Let me guess. You put taking care of yourself on the back-burner, because “who has time for self-care?”
I hear you. When you’re feeling overwhelmed with life and trying to manage the stress of running a household, raising kids, working, and juggling a hundred balls in the air, self-care is probably the last thing on your mind.
As moms, we tend to put off even the simplest acts of self-care because our plates are really full. So full, in fact, that the idea of self-care for busy moms seems contradictory. But it shouldn’t be.
And as hard as it might seem to carve out time for self-care, it’s self-critically important to avoid burnout, frustration, and fatigue.
As a mom, I used to think the idea of self-care was a joke. But after a breast-cancer diagnosis several years ago, I woke up. I realized that self-care is not indulgent, but necessary.
I’ve learned the importance of taking some time for myself, no matter what I have going on. And I’ve learned how to work it in regardless of time or budget.
A self-care plan doesn’t have to be hard or complicated, even for moms. Let me show you how:
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A Guide to Self-Care for Moms
We are going to break down the idea of “self-care for moms” and identify how you can add some simple self-care into your life. But first, why is it necessary?
Why is self-care for moms important?
I’ll tell you why: Because you can’t pour from an empty cup.
Ever heard that before? It basically means that you can’t keep giving if you don’t stop to replenish your energy. Think about it.
We are busy moms, on the go, all the time. We’re running and doing and being and stressing. We are trying our best but feel like we’re falling short.
It never seems like it’s enough.
Self-care is necessary for moms to manage stress, regardless of whether you’re a working mom or a stay-at-home mom.
Self-care is essential so you can show up as your best self. For you, for your kids, for your spouse and partner.
Taking care of yourself is important so you can live better and enjoy your life.
It’s necessary to slow down and recharge.
But sometimes, we simply don’t know how.
Who taught you about self-care?
Who taught you about self-care when you were growing up? Did you have a good example of how to take care of yourself? Did your mom take time for self-care?
A lot of us who are now moms didn’t have that example from our own mothers. Because they didn’t have that example, either.
My own mom stayed at home from the time I was five until I was about 14 years old. She began working outside the home for the next ten years.
In both cases, I can’t recall a time when she wasn’t overwhelmed or stressed. Running a household and managing a hectic schedule with three very busy kids kept her on the go, all the time.
I rarely saw my mom take intentional time for herself. She didn’t have hobbies. She rarely spent time with friends outside visiting with other moms during our sports events. Looking back, I can see why she was burned out and frustrated.
Her cup was empty.
When we don’t take care of ourselves, not only does it hurt us, but it becomes increasingly hard to take care of others.
If you’re a girl mom, consider this: Our daughters need to learn how to take good care of themselves and live their best lives. And the best way for daughters to learn is by watching their moms.
Yes, our daughters need to see us pushing through when things get tough. They need to learn resilience and strength and how to get things done. Those are good things.
They also need to see us being healthy. They learn how to be women by watching their moms. It’s so necessary to feel we are worthy of self-care so our daughters learn that they are also worthy.
What is Self-Care?
Let’s talk about what self-care is, and what self-care isn’t. Check out this self-care definition on Dictionary.com:
The act of attending to one’s physical or mental health, generally without medical or other professional consultation
The products or practices used to comfort or soothe oneself.
Essentially, the practice of self-care is what we do to take care of ourselves, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically.
Self-care activities recharge us and give us energy. They relieve stress and help us feel better and more relaxed.
Simply put, it’s caring for yourself.
What Self-care is Not
Self-care isn’t something that feels like an obligation or adds stress to our life.
And self-care isn’t doing activities to make others happy.
Self-care is to make you feel happy and well-balanced.
And above all, self-care isn’t selfish. (Even though we tend to feel like it is.)
What Are the Essential Components of a Self-Care Plan?
Self-care is the action you take to make sure you are in good health in several areas.
When you take action in all of these areas, you are a better version of you. Not only for yourself, but for those you love who need and depend on you.
Four Categories of Self-Care
In practicing emotional self-care, you are protecting your emotional well-being.
You want to improve your outlook and mindset by focusing on positive thoughts and people. Who do you spend your time with?
What type of content are you consuming? Does is drain you emotionally? Or does it energize and motivate you?
If you aren’t surrounded by positive people, change that. Seek out people with similar priorities and values.
There is a lot of negativity and divisiveness in the world right now. Make sure you are countering that with positivity in some way. You might even consider a temporary break from social media.
Part of self-care means taking care of your body. Are you eating well and incorporating nutrient-dense foods into your diet? Did you know there are foods that can help alleviate stress?
Staying hydrated with water and limiting sugary and fattening drinks is key, too.
Getting enough sleep (and restful sleep) is important for your physical self-care.
Moving your body with physical exercise is also essential. We have to keep moving!
Whether it’s walking, hiking, biking, or some type of fitness routine, physical movement keeps us in good health and combats the decline we see with aging.
This can include aspects of personal growth, professional development or just learning new things.
Your psychological self-care is about keeping your mind sharp. Reading, learning new skills, trying new hobbies, mind puzzles and challenges are all good ways to keep your mind engaged.
Even decluttering can be an act of self-care. Have you ever heard the phrase “cluttered home, cluttered mind?” Did you know physical clutter can affect your mind? It can impact your mood, how you think, and even how you sleep!
Are you paying attention to and taking care of yourself spiritually? Spiritual self-care is giving attention to what gives you purpose and a sense of connection.
Prayer is spiritual self-care. So is meditation or quiet time for reflection. Writing may be a way for you to connect with you inner thoughts and feelings.
How Do Busy Moms Make Self-Care Happen
What do you need to get started with a self-care plan? How can you make it happen?
1. Give Yourself Permission
The first thing you need is permission.
I’m not talking about permission from your spouse, your significant other, or anyone else. No. I’m talking about permission from yourself.
You have to give yourself permission for self-care. And that can be the hardest part of getting started.
You have to make yourself a priority. You’ll need to believe you are worth the time and effort. (You are.) And you will need to make it happen. No one is going to do it for you.
2. Make Time
You will need to make time or self-care. And while that might seem unrealistic, it’s probably a lot more attainable that you think.
Instead of scrolling Facebook for 20 minutes, could you take that time for a brisk walk outdoors?
Can you wake up 15 minutes earlier than normal and spend some time in prayer, meditating or writing in a journal?
What would it look like if you scheduled out your day so you were more efficient with your time? And you blocked out 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or even an hour for self-care?
3. Commit to a Plan
You need a plan. And it can be whatever works for you.
Maybe you want to carve out a little bit of time each day. Or maybe a self-care activity once a week works better for you.
There is no right or wrong way to do this. You might get the most benefit out of daily exercise, while someone else make get more fulfillment with a hobby like painting.
Regardless of what self-care looks like for you, it needs to be planned and incorporated regularly into your life. Consider a self-care planner like this one we have on Etsy.
Tips for Creating a Self-Care Plan and Sticking to It
- Schedule your self-care time. Don’t just say you’re going to do it. Schedule it. Block it out. Put it in your calendar and treat it like an appointment.
- Come up with a list of just a few simple self-care activities when you are starting out. Don’t overwhelm yourself with a huge list. Select a few things you can realistically work into your day or week and start there.
- Be flexible. If one of your self-care activities isn’t making your feel better, relieving stress and bringing you joy, then keep changing it up. Swap out that particular self-care activity for a new one and keep trying new things until you find what works for you.
- Make your self-care routine a priority. Yes, life happens and sometimes we have to change our plans. But don’t make a habit to let your self-care get derailed. Set boundaries with others. And trust me, when you start to take time for yourself, your boundaries will get tested.
- Enjoy yourself! Don’t rush through your self-care so you can “check it off the list.” That’s defeating the purpose and you will be short-changing yourself. Be mindful and intentional with your self-care to reap the full benefits.
Simple Self-Care Ideas for Moms to Get You Started
Where should you start? Here are 10 simple ideas to try out.
- Add aromatherapy to your shower with a shower steamer.
- Start a Gratitude Journal and write about the things you are grateful for.
- Get out in nature with a walk in the park or a hike at some nearby trails.
- Go to bed 30 minutes earlier for some extra sleep.
- Take a break from social media for several days, a week, even a month.
- Read something new, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, as long as it’s something you enjoy.
- Listen to a podcast. They are free and there are thousands to choose from.
- Call a friend that makes you laugh or is always sunny and cheerful.
- Drink water – at least 64 oz in a day, but some health experts recommend more.
- Spend 10 minutes in prayer, meditation or simply refecting quietly.
Common Questions Moms Have About Self-Care
But Am I Selfish if I Take Time for Self-Care?
The short answer is NO!
Yes, it can feel selfish. It feels selfish sometimes because in general, women tend to take care of others first. We are wired to care for others – our spouses, partners, children, friends and family.
But again, you can’t pour from an empty cup. So when you take good care of yourself, you are better equipped to care for others.
Remember, self-care is not selfish. There is a difference between being self-centered and simply taking good care of yourself.
But Isn’t Self-Care Expensive?
If your idea of self-care is indulging in fancy spa treatments and expensive activities and outings, then maybe. But basic self-care doesn’t need to cost a lot of money.
First of all, there are plenty of things you can do that cost little to nothing, as mentioned above. These are not indulgent things, they are simple activities that help you alleviate stress, tune into yourself, and live a healthier life.
And if you do want to implement a self-care activity that costs money, aren’t you worth it?
Example: a friend recently fretted in a conversation that she was worried about spending $100 a month to join a fitness program.
“Are you worth $100?” I asked her. “Isn’t your health worth that investment in yourself? Do you want to be around for your family longer?”
Everyone’s financial situation is different, and you have to do what works for your budget. But if you can swing the cost of a healthy eating program, a personal trainer, even a life-coach, then you should do it if that’s what you need.
You are worth it.
But Won’t Self-Care Take Time Away from My Family?
Yes. But not in a neglectful way. Taking a little bit of time for your physical and mental well-being will only make you a better mom – and give your family a great example of how to be their best, too!
The Last Thing You Need to Know about Self-Care for Busy Moms
Bottom line – you are worth it. You are worth the time and effort to take care of yourself. Do it for yourself. And do it for your kids.
Self-care is for everyone, especially moms.