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Getting Started With Self-Care: A Mom’s Survival Guide
“Take time off…the world will not fall apart without you.” (Malebo Sephodi)
As moms, we often put ourselves last on our list of priorities. With all the balls we juggle daily, we are afraid that if we spend even a little time on ourselves, all the balls will drop and we will fail spectacularly at this whole mothering thing. And even if we do manage to do something for ourselves–like take a nice bath or go out with friends–we often end up feeling guilty about it.
But let’s be honest here: taking care of ourselves is not a privilege we must earn. It’s a human need. And more than that, it’s 100% necessary if we want to be the best moms we can be. We are better equipped to take care of our children, families, and countless duties when we are taking excellent care of ourselves. We don’t need to “earn” self-care. It’s a necessary part of taking care of our bodies, minds, and souls.
Self-care means leaving survival mode behind.
I’ll be honest: I am naturally wired to burn the candle at both ends. I have to work really hard to plan and execute proper self care. But in doing so, I have seen a massive difference in my life and family. I’m a better mom. I’m more patient. My body is healthier and I feel more balanced. And I’m so much better prepared to handle the stress and difficult situations that naturally arise in my day.
Self-care isn’t a one time deal.
It’s something we need to do regularly to reap the benefits. You can’t go to Target by yourself, read a good book and call it good in the self-care department for the year. It needs to be built into your routines so that you are regularly replenishing yourself.
“How Can I Fit This is My Crazy Life????”
Tell me if this sounds vaguely familiar: You’re exhausted, but you are working through your kid’s bedtime routine regardless. You can just smell the freedom that comes when the last snuggles and kisses are exchanged. Though you have a long list of stuff to get done, instead you wander to the couch, snack in hand, and proceed to binge-watch something until you zombie walk to your bed and snag a few hours of sleep.
Then, you wake up fare before you’re ready to a child who needs to be fed/clothed/etc. So you tear yourself from the bed and groggily trudge through your morning.
Been there. Done that. And let me tell ya: there is a better way.
Rejuvenating Mornings & Evenings
First off, self care will look different for every mom. It all comes down to what rejuvenates YOU physically, mentally, and spiritually. But as our mom days are often packed with non-stop chaos (or is that just me?), I finds mornings and evenings to be the optimal times for quality self-care. Changing my evenings and mornings has quite literally changed my life.
Before my kids are up, I almost always read uplifting books, exercise, shower and get ready for the day (hair up, clothes on, and perhaps some mascara). I often meditate and I sometimes write in a journal. These practices nourish my mind, body, and soul and set me up to be a happy, patient mom ready to tackle the crazy that will inevitably come my way.
In the evening, after I put my 4 small kids to bed, I wind down first by unplugging from technology. This is when my husband and I can finally talk and really connect. Almost without fail, I take a hot bath with epsom salt (this is my absolute favorite) and essential oils while I read and relax my mind and body. I breath deeply (this method is pretty fantastic) and will sometimes meditate if I am still having trouble shutting off my brain.
But that’s me. These practices renew me daily, help me sleep well, and feed my mind, body, and soul.
Self-Care will look different for each of us.
To create your self-care routine, you’ll need to reflect what activities bring YOU peace and relaxation. When can you find time in your day to spend some time on yourself? Before you can do that, there are a few steps you need to take to make room for self-care in your life.
THREE STEPS TO GETTING STARTED WITH SELF-CARE
Step 1: Create Your “White Space”
Imagine a white piece of paper with writing on it. There are margins on all sides and spaces between the paragraphs. There is clear organization and flow. The white space provide direction and organization.
Okay, now Imagine another piece of paper with crammed writing covering the entire surface. Overwhelming, huh? Not sure where to start or end and there are no white spaces to be found.
Which paper best resembles your life? The one with rests and white spaces? Or the one that is so full it’s impossible to make heads or tails of what is going on?
As moms, we are so busy and maybe even feel overwhelmed from time to time. How can we fit in self care as well? Well, maybe we need to cut out some activities that aren’t important. We need to find white space in our lives. While much of what we do is extremely important, we also fill our lives up with a lot of non essentials.
To say yes to self care and better mental and physical health, you may need to say no to other things.
Step back an evaluate what you spend your time on. What should you cut out? Don’t let good things get in the way of doing THE BEST things. Don’t worry about fulfilling anyone’s expectations for you or what other people are doing. Evaluate what will be best for you and your family. And don’t be afraid to cut out things that are no longer in your best interest.
For me, this meant saying “no” to a lot of outside demands. It also meant not trying to fit in work after my kids went to bed. I used to stay up super late grading papers, cleaning, and working on a host of other things that I could never get to during the day. To get better sleep and make the most of my mornings, I needed to completely change my evening routine.
Step 2: Guard the “White Space” in Your Life
If you’ve cut out the non-essentials from your life, you’ve made room for the white space. If you are anything like me, your natural inclination is to look at that white space and want to fill it all up.
Instead, guard that white space with ferocity. That white space equals balance and your sanity. That white space allows you to fit in the much needed self-care activities that will improve your mental, physical, and spiritual health.
You may find that this white space actually allows you to accomplish more everyday. The 7th habit in Stephen R. Covey’s super-famous Seven Habits For Highly-Effective People is “Sharpen the Saw.” Which means taking care of yourself and feeling renewed so that you can operate at max efficiency. So if you want to be a “highly effective person,” guard your white space and try some self-care (and read his book–it is UH-MAZING).
Step 3: Build Your Self-Care Routine
Again, your self care routine may look very different from mine. But you want to make sure that you are including activities from the 3 core areas: physical, mental, and spiritual. Below are just a few ideas to get you started. Pick a few of the following and try them out this week.
- Exercise regularly
- Go for a walk or hike
- Get enough sleep
- Eat nutritious food
- Take a relaxing bath
- Have a dance party with your kids
- Ask your partner for a massage
- Get 15 minutes of sun (with sunscreen)
- Snuggle with your spouse or children
- Take a nap
- Take a hot bath with epsom salts and/or relaxing essential oils
- Spend time in nature
- Smell you favorite things
- Declutter a problem area
- Start a file on your computer writing favorite memories of your kids
- Go outside and be in nature
- Listen to a podcast
- Go somewhere by yourself
- Laugh–watch a funny youtube video, read a comic
- Complete a task that’s been nagging at you
- Start a book club
- Read something uplifting
- Go on a date with your husband
- Try a new type of food
- Cut out negative people on social media
- Call/email an old friend you haven’t talked to in ages
- Unplug from all electronics
- Recite Affirmations
Most important: Get started
Mamas, you are so important. So much rides on your capable shoulders. Make sure you give them a break (even it’s a small one) everyday.
In the comments, I’d love to hear from you. What rejuvenates you? Am I missing anything on my lists? What are your obstacles to self-care?