The new school year is upon us, which means schedules, lunches, and more. You may also still be working from home. You’re probably managing everything in and out (and around!) the house. The pandemic is (seemingly) never-ending and – if it hasn’t happened already – it’s about to get busy again.
To add self-care to that massive list of concerns may seem unimportant, a distant vision, or even laughable. However, I encourage all of you busy and stressed out mommas to recognize that there are easy self-care ideas to sneak into your day.
You need it and are worth it; a little bit of self-care can go a long way.
How to manage self-care while taking care of kids
For starters, I get it; finding pockets of time for yourself may seem like a rare diamond — we all want it but can’t foresee actually getting it.
A reminder (very strong reminder): allowing yourself to take small breaks will help decrease the mental burnout that moms across the nation (and world) are experiencing.
Moms have been the central support network in homes and families, being depended on by the children, our partners, and perhaps others. This is requiring us to be there for our families both physically and mentally, though it’s definitely not easy. As a result, there has to be some process of rejuvenation.
Don’t throw in the towel…we’re here to help.
Do you practice self-care? Do you feel it’s possible?
If you’re reading this, I’m going to assume that the answer is most likely no.
The truth is, there’s a bit of “mind over matter” involved, in terms of what’s possible or not when it comes to self-care. One of the reasons is that, over time, we’ve become trained to assume that self-care means we need a finite amount of hours in the day to ourselves which (whether you have kids at home or not) isn’t always possible. Even if the kids are back at school, we moms are good at filling our plates (let’s see a show of hands if that sounds like you 🙋 ).
The myth: You need a lot of “free” time to practice self-care.
The reality: Self-care is what you make it; it’s any act of doing something that makes you feel good, inside and out, and can be different for everyone. It can be as simple as reading funny memes for one mom, watching a good show for another, or enjoying a really good coffee and treat for someone else.
Here are some actionable items for moms to try…
Because we have ALL been there, I’m laying out a number of easy self-care ideas and action items any busy, stressed-out, burned-out mom can try at home. These are real ideas that can take as little as 10 minutes a day (you can make it longer on days when you’re not as stretched for time).
The trick is to make it an actual part of your day (just like doing the dishes) and choose a time of day where you will actually stick to it (i.e. first thing in the morning, last thing before bed, or just after lunch). Once you choose your self-care activity, write it down (we bet you have a running to-do list somewhere 😉 ), and add it to your schedule.
Here are some ideas with real, actionable steps to make it work. Choose one (or more) and try your best to stick to it a couple of times a week.
Pick one that resonates with you vs. something that doesn’t suit your personality (👈 this is important).
Virtual (easy) Workouts
While getting to an actual yoga class or workout class is not something that may be doable, take advantage of fitness apps and YouTube workouts. There are many online fitness classes and tutorials that do not take a lot of time; you can get fit in as little as 10 minutes. (Or, even 7 minutes! Try the 7M Women App.)
- Do this first thing in the morning; it doesn’t take too much time, so you get it over and done with.
- Set up a reminder/notification to receive a daily alert so you don’t forget (especially at the beginning of this self-care journey).
Stick to a Skincare Routine
Something as simple as washing your face daily, or a weekly exfoliating mask, can do wonders. It sounds silly, but knowing that you’re taking care of yourself physically does wonders for your mental health. Make a commitment (just like brushing your teeth) to wash your face daily. Taking 5-10 minutes to do so is a small window of “me-time” that you will find you can spare. Your skin will thank you as well.
- Start with a simple face cleansing routine before bed with proper face wash and moisturizer; do this before or after brushing your teeth (so you will be less likely to skip it).
- Once you have that underway, expand your routine to include a face mask treatment once a week. Because most masks require you to leave it on for a minimum of 5 minutes, consider using these few extra moments of built-in “me time” to write in a gratitude journal (see the next tip!), meditate or take some cleansing breaths, which are all good for relieving stress.
Start a Gratitude Journal
Oprah suggests that everyone keep a gratitude journal, and well… she seems pretty happy! The key to keeping a journal is keeping it simple! It doesn’t need to take a lot of time and you don’t need a fancy book. It’s also something that you can do with your kids. Any lined book will do; write out the following daily: 3-5 things you are thankful for, 1 affirmation (i.e. “Today I am ___ “ or “ Today I felt ___”). Kids can write out 1-3 things they are grateful (or thankful) for; you could also ask them to draw a picture of someone or something that made them happy. This practice will help you find joy in stressful times.
- Implement this as a pre-bedtime activity. Everyone does it at the same time and if they (or you) wish, share it.
- If you want to buy a book to help with this practice, local bookstores and Indigo are great places to look. A gratitude journal can help guide you so you don’t have to think about what to write.
Get a Haircut
I’m seeing a lot of moms getting their “COVID cuts” after months of lockdown. What seems to be the sentiment is that there is a notion of happiness derived from doing something as simple as getting a haircut. It’s a break. Mind you, women do not need to get their hair cut often. However, whenever that hair is cut, it’s an instant sense of weight being lifted off the shoulders (plus an hour to yourself is nice).
- Choose a local salon where you are comfortable with the COVID-19 protocols so you aren’t anxious.
- Be sure to book an appointment for a time when any (older) kids will be at school, or when you have your partner, family member or friend available to help watch your child(ren) so you don’t feel rushed to return.
- Commit to getting this haircut; do not put it off, especially if it’s been three months since your last one.
Make a Latte
While many of us make coffee at home, it tends to be simple in nature and often gets cold before we get to drink it. Take a few moments to make an actual drink you would order, such as a latte. If you don’t have a frother, think about getting one (there are some that are as cheap as $4.99 on Amazon, no need for fancy machines). Make some coffee (doesn’t matter if it’s espresso) and, in a separate cup, froth your milk (you may want to warm it up first), then combine the two together. Sweeten if you like, add a dash of cocoa or cinnamon and enjoy! You can also do this with tea, or even hot chocolate — whatever you love!
- Commit to doing this 2 to 3 times a week in place of your regular coffee or tea (perhaps every Monday and Friday).
- Do this while the kids are having breakfast (or, if they’re older, right after they’ve gone to school) so you aren’t interrupted.
Nourish with a Breakfast Smoothie
One of the best ways to practice self-care is to ensure we are starting our day with some nutrition. This helps on so many levels: energy, getting needed vitamins and minerals (i.e. B vitamins are important for energy), and will make you feel good knowing you are taking care of your insides. Try this yummy Chocolate Avocado Smoothie.
- Pick two days of the week and declare those ‘breakfast smoothie days’.
- Make extra for your partner or kids, and share the smoothie to make that part of their breakfast as well!
- Choose ingredients you actually enjoy and play around with recipes.
Sleep is super important and perhaps one that you shouldn’t choose (or even think about!). Sleep is so vital for self-care. Allow your body to get its full deep, REM sleep. Although you may feel like you’re short on time, sleep is not something to be taken for granted. It is required for good health, stress management, skin, organs, and overall functioning, not to mention happiness.
- If you say you don’t have enough time to sleep, you have to consider your schedule. Be realistic and do not overschedule your commitments for one day; make it a practice to be realistic in your daily goals.
- If your body and eyes are telling you that you’re tired, value your health enough to listen. Understand that listening to your body IS self-care.
- Give yourself a bedtime. If you know you have to wake up a certain time, work backwards to ensure you get a minimum of six hours per day (seven is better!).
Self-Care: Just Do It.
I believe in you…you can do it!
I know because I have personally done it and, over time, have found simplified self-care solutions; I feel (finally) that my self-care is not compromised. While it may not look exactly the same as it did before having kids, it’s still there! I have pockets of time during which I know I’m taking care of myself like I do my family. And you will too. 💗
Try some of these easy self-care ideas into your day because you are worth it!
Mother of toddlers, foodie at heart, city-loving, blogger, writer, marketing specialist, and overall busy-bee, that is Christina Chandra in a nutshell. Christina lives in Vancouver where she is a freelance writer & marketing specialist, and also blogs at ChristinaChandra.com. In her spare time, you can find her exploring local eateries, cafes and local hot spots.