How to practice self care for busy moms

The new year is upon us! Hopefully, everyone’s holiday season went well and you’re ready to start the year. Of course, even if you’re not ready, time still ticks away.

I’m sure most of you have some sort of goals or resolutions for the new year. Maybe you want to reach a goal at work or improve your relationship with your children. Or you vow to exercise five days a week or eat healthier. In addition to all of the typical goals, I challenge you to include better self care on your list this year.

Us busy moms tend to take care of everyone else, but often forget our own self care. I’m not sure why that is, except that maybe we feel guilty for focusing on our own needs and desires instead of our family’s. However, believe me when I say that mother’s guilt has got to stop (as discussed here)! Know that the most important thing you can do for your children is to take care of yourself. If Mom’s fuel tank is empty, NO ONE wins.

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Why do we need self care?

This should be an obvious answer, but I don’t think we’re quite there yet. I see moms killing themselves to get their children to soccer, dance, taekwondo, art class, drama class, beer class (Okay, I made that one up. Just seeing if you were paying attention!). But at what cost?

I talk to moms who say how busy they are, how glad they will be when this activity or that extracurricular is over. They don’t have time to eat dinner as a family. They don’t spend quality time with their partner, except to discuss who will take what child where. They are constantly running somewhere, but not really getting anywhere. So where does that leave us as moms?

If you have ever flown on a commercial flight, you have heard the safety spiel before takeoff. Maybe you have been programmed to tune it out as you mediate an argument between children or make sure they each have a snack.

However, the most important point in the safety talk is about placing your oxygen mask on first and then your child’s mask. Why? Because, if you don’t take care of your own oxygen mask first, you will be passed out in your seat due to oxygen deprivation. Then no one is left to take care of the children.

Get it? Self care is NOT selfish or unnecessary, but an absolute MUST for us busy moms. You still don’t believe me? Then, read my post here on how chronic stress can affect the body from a momma who used to ignore self care. Spoiler alert: it was a disaster. My body became crushed because of that. You DON’T want to end up like that.

I’m giving you permission to take care of yourself first. Of course, you have to make sure your children’s basic needs are met- food, clothing, shelter. However, you aren’t responsible for entertaining them 24 hours of the day. You don’t need to take them to every extracurricular ever invented in an attempt to make sure they experience everything.

It’s funny how children used to just run around outside and play with few scheduled activities and turned out just fine. In fact, children need some down time. This article discusses signs that your children might be overscheduled.

Your children will be much better off if they see you model self care. First of all, they will realize they aren’t the center of the universe (gasp!). The reality is, in the real world, nobody cares that your baby was a champion dart thrower or painted a clay pot once.

Second of all, they will see a much more joyful momma instead of a frazzled and stressed out one. They will learn that it’s okay to take care of their own needs. Consequently, they will hopefully avoid becoming frazzled and stressed out themselves in the future.

self care

How to practice self care

This should also be obvious. However, I think most of us moms have forgotten how to take care of ourselves. You’re great at giving your children what they need, but what about your own needs?

First, let’s define self care to make sure you have a good understanding of what it actually is. Self care is anything that contributes to your physical, mental or emotional health.

That doesn’t always mean just spa days and mani/pedis, although those are great if you can fit them into your schedule and budget. Self care might look like 10 minutes spent in nature or getting to bed by a designated time every night. It’s whatever you need to be the best version of yourself.

Now, I want you to make your own self care list of things that make you feel relaxed, content and at ease with life. If nothing comes to mind, think back to when you were younger. Before all of the responsibilities of life took over.

What made you smile? What lit you up? Think about what you can do now to bring a smile to your face or fill up your energy bucket.

Here are some examples:

  • Read a good book
  • Be in nature
  • Take a walk
  • Listen to music
  • Dance
  • Exercise/Movement (Obviously make it something you enjoy.)
  • Take a soothing bath
  • Meditate (It’s not just for yogis and monks.)
  • Cuddle time with a partner/child
  • Watch a favorite show (Not a binge session, just one show to lighten your mood.)
  • Connect with a friend
  • Take a nap or go to bed a little earlier (Poor sleep can completely disrupt our lives, as discussed here.)
  • Say no when asked to be involved with extra committees/groups/organizations that are time and energy leeches

Feel free to choose from this list or come up with your own ideas. The important thing is to make sure that you have it written down somewhere. Then, when you’re feeling out of balance and worn out, you can refer back to your list and practice your own self care.

Keep in mind that you don’t need to do everything on the list everyday. It’s just a reminder that your needs are important too. However, when you’re feeling the pressures of life taking over, at least you will be empowered to help yourself. If you commit to making this a habit, it will be.

Now I would love to hear from you! What is on your self care list? How do you/will you include self care into your life? Please share in the comments below.

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation.”

-Audre Lorde

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