We're going to have a chat about the importance of self-care for moms. Yes, busy-stressed-tired-mommas, I'm talking to you! Myself included. You cannot pour from an empty cup, right? It's time we filled our cups. And not just with high-octane caffeine.
I hear this term “self-care” thrown around a lot among my mom friends and on parenting websites I read. But what exactly does that mean? To me, I always thought of self-care as a bit selfish. Like it was something that would take not only a great deal of time away from my family but money as well. Think: expensive massages, facials, girls-only vacations. Those things all sound absolutely amazing, don't get me wrong, but totally not feasible for me. I took some time this past month figuring out what self-care really meant to me and how I could implement it (easily and inexpensively) in my day to day life. And let's be honest, if it's not cheap, fast or easy I'm probably not going to put a high priority on it. The ideas I share with you below, don't require much time, effort or money. And most can be done with your children around so no babysitter needed.
No More Feeling Guilty
First of all, we have to stop feeling guilty about taking the time to take care of ourselves. As a new mother, I found myself feeling twinges of guilt nearly every time I felt the urge to have a little alone time. Even when I would take the time to exercise or read a book with more words than pictures, I found that same feeling creeping up inside of me. Part of that was being a first-time mom but part of it was that overwhelming feeling moms have to be everything to everyone and still keep it all together.
It's Okay Not to Do It All
Have a Pinterest-worthy house, rocking body, amazing sex life, strong faith, gourmet meals, well-behaved kids, etc. You get the idea. Society says we should be able to do it all with a smile on our face. If we let go of this mythical mom image, maybe we can find some time to care for ourselves a little more. So the answer is yes…even if you don't have everything in your life in perfect harmony, you can still make time for self-care without feeling one inkling of guilt. Promise! In fact, filling your self-care cup will make you more a more relaxed and capable mom and wife. Win-win.
Five Areas Of Self-Care – A Checklist
Self-care is about much more than massages and expensive hair-cuts. You can't fill a cup from the outside in, only from the inside out. I have discovered five areas of self-care that are crucial for my well-being. If I'm feeling stressed and at my wits end, I look through this list and ask myself if I've been neglecting any of these self-care areas. The answer is always yes. This gives me a great starting point to help me get back on track.
- Faith: Have I been praying regularly? How is my relationship with God?
- Set a timer on your phone for five minutes and pray. Don't feel selfish asking God to help you out either. Not every prayer needs to be about our children or spouses.
- Read the Bible for five minutes. Even if this is the Bible App on your cell while you're in the grocery store parking lot. Because baby only naps in the grocery store parking lot…
- Ask your husband or a friend to pray for you. Listening to someone pray specifically for you is so uplifting and refreshing.
- Write down five things for which you are grateful. It helps put things in perspective.
- Food: Have I eaten anything healthy today? What has my diet looked like this week?
- Make a smoothie. Smoothies are an easy way to get a ton of nutrients (hey Kale, I've missed you!) in at once. Bonus, they taste like a treat!
- Drink a big glass of water. Throw a pinch of sea salt in your water glass to help restore minerals.
- Eat a big salad for your next meal. Eating greens helps reset your body and doesn't feel heavy like some meals do. Try my easy balsamic dressing.
- Exercise: When was the last time I moved my body? Do I feel strong or weak?
- Walk. The easiest, cheapest form of exercise there is. Walking, especially outside, is a great way to refresh your mind while moving your body.
- Stretch. I notice that by the end of the day my neck and shoulder ache from carrying my child or from stress.
- Yoga. Along the same lines as stretching, yoga is such a great way to connect with your body and your mind. Focus on breathing out the bad stuff. Check out my favorite (free!) yoga videos here. You don't need to be a pro and you don't need any special equipment.
- Social: Have I talked to a real live adult lately? Have I called a family member recently?
- Call someone who makes you laugh. Do not text. Texting is so easy to do in-between tasks on our to-do list. Actually talking to someone requires some focus. I have a couple of girlfriends who can always help me relieve stress through a few good laughs. Even if we can't get together often, we can still connect.
- Get off social media. The more Facebook/Instagram/Twitter I scroll through, the less connected I feel to my real friends and family. Even if it's just for a day, it will help your brain get back to reality.
- Play a board game. Even if it's Chutes & Ladders with your kids, it counts! Board games require us to be present mentally and physically. Try a card game or board game with your spouse after the kids go to bed. Or institute a family game night and invite over a few friends or family.
- Personal/Sexual/Self: Have I kissed my husband lately? When was the last time we were intimate? Would a hot shower, a nap or a good book make me feel better?
- Do it. With your spouse. We often feel too tired at the end of a long day, but once you get started you'll be so happy you did. Great for the mind, body and relationship. Not every sexual encounter needs to be pulled from the text of a romance novel. Even a quickie can be refreshing and fun. Don't take it too seriously and enjoy your spouse.
- Take a nap. Easier said than done, right? I have been exhausted lately and finally gave myself permission to take a nap with my son. Sleep is the most important act of self-care in my opinion. Take naps when you can and go to bed at a decent time. It will make the following day so much more enjoyable.
- Sip your favorite tea. A warm drink like tea can help calm your nerves and relax your whole body. I'm loving the delicious Yogi teas lately.
- Take a bath. One of my favorite, cheap and easy self-care ideas. I like to take a 20-30 minute bath after dinner when my husband and son can spend some quality time together. Otherwise my son wants to be in the bath pretending to be a fish or a scuba diver. Adorable, but not quite as relaxing. See my quick and simple pamper routine below for ideas on how to take your bath to the next level.
- Diffuse your favorite essential oil. Did you know essential oils affect the limbic system of the brain, which controls emotions and memory? You can lift your mood just by scent, as long as it's natural. I use Young Living essential oils, and my favorites for stress are Stress Away, lavender, Sacred Mountain, Release, Harmony, frankincense, and more!
Simple & Quick Pamper Routine
This is my go-to, self-care pamper routine.
- Start filling your tub and add 1-2 cups of Epsom salts. These salts help relieve muscle soreness and make your bath an extra special experience. I love this one with Chamomile. Optional add-in: Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the salt first, mix well then throw in the bath.
- While the tub is filling, dry-brush your entire body. Dry-brushing with a brush like this is so invigorating. It helps stimulate detoxification through the body, can reduce cellulite and just feels amazing on the skin. I like to brush in long strokes from toes to head always brushing towards my heart. Learn more here.
- Hop in the tub and relax. Soak for at least 20 minutes. Deep breaths. I love to do a facial mask while in the tub. The steam from the hot water helps open the pores. My favorite mask is raw honey. I have a dedicated jar in my bathroom just for facial masks. I get a good spoonful and cover my face in it. Honey is full of antioxidants that help soften and refresh skin. I let it sit on the skin for 15-20 minutes while I'm in the bath before rinsing. Surprisingly, it's not as sticky-gooey as you'd think. It washes off really easily.
- Sip some tea. If you like taking hot baths like me, then ice down your tea to help keep cool. I love this Bedtime tea from Yogi.
Easy, right? A quick and simple pamper routine to help fill your self-care cup.
I hope you see that self-care is attainable and that this give you some encouragement to start putting yourself on the priority list. Are there any areas you think I missed? Have any favorite self-care ideas. Please share in the comments below.