Self-care is the practice of taking care of your overall wellbeing through different health-promoting activities. But it has become the marketing buzzword of the century and used to sell various skincare products, fitness classes, and foods that promise to rid you of an ailment or two. Many moms buy into it and who can blame them? Motherhood, while an amazing journey, can be exhausting at times.
And while there is some truth behind those holy grails of self-care, promoting your own health doesn’t have to be so complicated or expensive. In fact, the pressure to practice self-care can be counterproductive — it can cause unnecessary stress and affect your ability to take care of your family. Simple self-care techniques like going for a run, enjoying a cup of coffee, or journaling can make a huge difference in your mood and energy levels.
But we’re not here to tell you how to take care of yourself. Every mom has different lifestyles, needs, and wants, which means there is no one-size-fits-all routine that can help you find happiness and balance. Instead, here are some tips that can help you create a realistic self-care routine:
1. Focus on what you need
Where many people go wrong with self-care is they tend to focus on things that they can’t do daily, like massages and trips to the salon. When building a self-care routine for yourself, focus on your most basic needs.
This checklist by Healthline can help you identify which of your daily habits you need to adjust so that you don’t neglect your needs. A simple place to start is nutrition. Lots of moms just eat leftovers and while convenient, it’s not exactly nourishing. As much as possible, try to get a balanced diet, adequate sleep, and exercise. These are just three of the most basic needs that you need to meet daily so self-care becomes habitual instead of a rare and luxurious treat.
2. Plan it out
Moms are amazing at multitasking but no one is immune to getting swamped with chores and responsibilities. When that happens, self-care is often seen as dispensable. What you can do is schedule your days and factor self-care in so you know that there’s always time for it. For example, try waking up earlier than everybody so you can get a few quiet minutes to yourself. Start with scheduling small changes to your daily routine so it doesn’t feel forced. By making it an integral part of your routine, self-care becomes non-negotiable which, for moms, it really should be!
3. Take advantage of spare hours
There are 24 hours in a day and surely you won’t spend all of that running around the house or at work. Take advantage of every break you get to unwind. Gala Bingo suggests using your lunch break — or any midday break you can get — to do relaxing or productive activities. You can get a quick workout in, meditate for a few minutes, or simply take a nap. If you don’t have an hour, even five minutes is enough to try breathing exercises for a micro self-care strategy.
4. Learn when to say no…
… and say yes to yourself instead. Of course, this doesn’t mean abandoning all of your responsibilities as a parent and all the other roles you play. This simply means setting boundaries and being assertive so that other people don’t take advantage of your time. For example, find a compromise with your partner so that household chores are split fairly. Or say no to your boss when they ask you to work on the weekend. Or hire a sitter so you can go on a date night with your spouse.
This is probably the most challenging stage especially if you’re used to being everybody’s go-to person. The key here is to understand that if you neglect taking care of yourself, pretty soon you’ll be physically and emotionally tired of taking care of anybody else.