When thinking about self-care as a mom it’s easy to fall
into the trap of “mom guilt.” We tend to feel bad about taking time for
ourselves when we could be doing something for our kids or our home. But as
we’ve all heard, it’s more detrimental to our mental (and physical) health to neglect
our own needs. When moms put themselves on the back burner for too long resentment
can build and/or we can burn out.
Sometimes we know what to do when we do get “free time.” As
I write this my own little one is upstairs taking a nap. She could be out for
20 minutes or two hours. I really have no idea, and typically my first thought
is, “What do I do with this time?” Do
I lounge on the couch and watch Netflix? Do I clean the kitchen or throw in a
load of laundry? Sometimes I’m just so amazed that I have a free window of time
that I’m paralyzed with the decision of what to do with it. I’m also afraid
that that window could close at any moment.
All of that said, we moms need to seize these opportunities.
More than anything, these free windows, as short or long as they may be, should
be devoted to our own self-care. Part of the problem is that we feel we need to
get more done, be more productive. There are always things to get done at work
or around the house. The answer is to ignore those things, even if only for five
minutes, once each day in order to give yourself some love.
So what does self-care look like for a busy mom? It can
really be anything that allows you to do something for yourself and something
you enjoy. However, do your best to avoid social media. Facebook or Twitter
time isn’t self-care. It only takes one emotionally charged post to fly by your
eyes to change your mood for the worse. Drama should not enter your self-care
time. Instead, depending on how much time you have, try one of these:
The very short window
of opportunity: When you have 5-20 minutes
These little tidbits of time should be available each and every
day for you. Yes, that’s right – EVERYDAY. If the day starts getting away from
you, plan to have 5-10 minutes for yourself before you go to bed.
- Sit back on your couch or a comfy chair and put
your feet up. Maybe add some music. Do nothing other than relax.
- Check in with a friend or relative who brightens
- Take a quick shower, and use the fancy soap. If
you don’t have fancy soap then perhaps you could use this time to online shop
for fancy soap.
- Write in a journal. This doesn’t have to be like
diary writing. Maybe it is, but you could also literally use “The five minute journal” by Intelligent Change, a daily gratitude and
reflection book that will only take five minutes of your day. There are dozens
of other types of journals out there that only require you to fill in the blanks
making journal writing more simple and less tedious for the non-writer.
- Grab your body butter or lotion and give your
feet a rub, and then cover your soft, relaxed feet with your coziest socks or
- In summer months: If you have a grassy yard, go
walk barefoot in the grass
- Read! Grab a magazine or a book. It doesn’t
matter if you get through one page or one chapter, just start and pick it up
again the next time.
The middle ground:
When you have 30 minutes to an hour
This decent chunk of time could be when your kids are at
school, a class or when you’re at home and your little one is taking a nap. With
a slightly longer period of time you could:
- Watch a full episode of a show
- Take a long shower or a bath. Light some
candles, toss in a bath balm and relax.
- Lay down and listen to a guided meditation. If
you fall asleep, let it turn into a decent nap.
- Do something creative: write, draw, color, paint,
- Workout: Go for a walk or jog. Do some at-home
yoga or other workout video. If you don’t have your own video library there are
plenty of free workout videos available on YouTube.
- If cooking or baking brings you stress relief,
steer yourself toward the kitchen and have at it. Look through recipe books,
blogs or online videos and try something new or an old favorite.
- Work a puzzle. Maybe it’s a crossword, sudoku,
or a literal table top jigsaw puzzle – whatever floats your brain boat.
- Sit outside and enjoy a glorious cup of coffee
or tea. Or invite a friend over (or go out) for a beverage and delightful
The long run: Taking
a few hours, a day or an evening.
A break like this doesn’t happen too often but when it does
be sure to take full advantage. You may be shaking your head thinking “How do I get that kind of time for myself?!”
You will likely have to call in some reinforcements. Drop the kids off with
their grandparents or another family member or hire a babysitter for a few
- Go for a massage, a pedicure or other body
- Have a date night (and do your best not to talk
about the kids)
- If you’re a exercise enthusiast or want to train
for something like a marathon, take this time and go for a long run or cycle
You can use these tips or create your own. Figure out what
works for you, but try to accomplish one act of self-care daily. If it helps,
log your one act of self-care in a journal or agenda to keep yourself
accountable and to track what you’ve been doing. It’s also a great way to
self-reflect at the end of the week, to look back and see everything you’ve
been able to do for yourself. And best of all, giving yourself some time and
love will allow you to recharge so you can handle the next busy day. Whether
you’re a brand new mom or a veteran mom with older kids, tackling each day is a
bit easier knowing there’s something in there for you.