Self-care is one of the latest buzzwords, and with good reason. In 2019 we’re super lucky to be at a point where people understand that the better we care for ourselves, the better we are for society. Together we rise and all that. As parents, as moms especially, we must make the time to take care of ourselves to be better parents, but also to model the behavior for our kids.
There’s some psychology there I’m sure. I’m not a psychologist.
Instead, I’m a mom.
And I know that as moms, we are spread thin. It’s not a gender role thing. Or, I don’t know, maybe it is. But we moms shoulder a huge emotional burden.
Moms Do It All
There’s a meme floating around that says “I used to always wonder what Mom was doing in the house while we were waiting in the car. Now I know, she was doing EVERYTHING.” It’s totally true, and it’s because someone has to do it.
For the dudes out there going “Hey, I do this in my house,” I see you, Bro. Don’t think that I’m excluding you. I’m not. I’m just speaking to moms as a whole, because I see more moms losing themselves in the day to day responsibilities of managing their families.
It can be a huge source of stress and it’s enough to make a mom feel invisible and overwhelmed and like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.
However, of course there is a light. And, it’s called self-care. It’s not to say that putting these things in practice will solve all of your problems (if you need to seek help, you totally should – it’s life changing), but they can offer a great start at reducing the overwhelm of our day-to-day lives.
9 Potentially Surprising Ways to Practice Self-Care as A Mom
Those tasks aren’t going to go away. They can be delegated, but they aren’t going to disappear anytime soon. But how can we make the time for taking care of ourselves? But the thing is self-care looks different for each of us, and what constitutes self-care may surprise you.
1. Get up early.
Confession time: whenever I read ideas on self-care and I see “get up early,” a part of me dies a little bit. I am not an early morning person, and my kids are still young enough to miss me at night, sometimes several times. But I’ll tell you this. If I get up early and get a workout in, or a long shower, or even a cup of coffee that’s (gasp!) still hot, the rest of my day goes a lot better.
2. Trade childcare (or get a babysitter)
Lots of us have a hard time paying a babysitter so I can get a haircut or a pedicure. But what about paying a sitter so you can go to the gym, read a book, or even go take a nap? Sleep is an important form of self-care too. If a babysitter isn’t in your budget, then seek out mom friends who want to trade hours childminding.
3. Make an early morning date.
In this case, early means before everyone else wakes up. Maybe it means joining a running club for a Saturday morning coffee run. Maybe it means hitting a yoga class. Or maybe it just means breakfast somewhere without your family. I join a coffee run about 3x a month and it’s so much fun. It’s social time as well as exercise and I feel wonderful when I’m done! And by the time I’m home, everyone else is just starting their day so we haven’t missed time as a family.
4. Find a way to be active with the kids.
This is hard sometimes. Because you just want to GET to the playground, and walking ½ mile with a dramatic 5 year old ends up taking 2 hours. Or you stop to look at every leaf or stick. But if you can find a way to get out together, then it can still be self-care, even if you’re doing it with your minions in tow.
5. Let go of your expectations for the [insert event here].
For many of us, the key to sanity lies in being organized with a plan. But, by letting go of your own expectations for how something will go, it can free you up to enjoy it along the way. Whether it’s the day, the trip to the zoo, the playdate, whatever. Granted, this doesn’t work so well when someone decides that they NEED the red cup that the dog ate, resulting in an epic tantrum. But, it’s a good place to start. And it makes it easier to laugh when the toddler gets into cocoa powder or sits in the dog food bin and tosses up handfuls of kibble like confetti. Not that I know about either of those personally.
6. Turn off the TV. Or at least get off the couch.
I *know* we all need to catch up on Grey’s. But even if your idea of self-care is bingeing Netflix with a glass of wine, it’s a good idea to change it up. The more we sink into that couch, the easier it is to not get up and do other stuff. So maybe try sitting on the floor and getting some stretches in. It’s not quite the same as making a deep mind body connection, but your body will thank you for treating it well.
7. Tidy up a bit.
*ducks* Don’t hit me. My house isn’t a great example of this. But there’s something to the Marie Kondo-ization of our lives. Even if you don’t go to her extremes, studies show that when things are organized, and we know how to find the things we need or want, our stress levels go down. Even sweeping up the dog kibble confetti (see #5) can make a big difference and offer a sense of accomplishment. And one of my favorite cleaning/organizing gurus, Fly Lady, encourages us to clean our kitchen sinks every night. It helps even if it’s totally the last thing you want to do. Again, this doesn’t tie back to gender roles, just to find ways to manage stress.
8. Join a gym with childcare.
Lots of gyms offer up to 2 or 3 hours of childcare a day as long as you’re on the premises. Maybe you want to get in a run or a spin class. Or maybe you just want to sit in the sauna or get a massage. Still another option is to grab a book or your laptop and head to the members’ lounge. Why not? It’s your “me time” and you get to decide how you spend it.
9. Meet up with friends.
Whether you escape from your family for a coffee date or schedule a play date, time with friends is invaluable. It’s one of the most powerful forms of self-care. The laughter and time together can reaffirm what makes each of us tick and remind us who we were before we had kids, and, truthfully, who we are deep down.
As I mentioned earlier, self-care looks different for each of us. For me, so much of it circles around exercise and organization (again, don’t you dare look at the chaos that is my house). I know I’m not alone because everywhere you look there’s a study about how mental wellbeing is associated with physical activity and being organized. When it comes to exercise especially, everyone loves something different – for you, maybe it’s running, maybe yoga, maybe swimming. Or maybe you prefer cross fit or boxing, or something as simple as gardening or walking outside.
We all have those days when it’s a vacation if we get to sit in the bathroom alone, or those blissful 5 seconds when you’re running back into the house to grab something. Those are the same days we often guzzle our coffee cold, not caring that it’s closer to dinner than breakfast. They happen.
We also have those days when our kids push all of our buttons and steam comes out of our ears, when we primal scream into a pillow so that we can get some stress relief.
All of these times make our time to ourselves, our time for self-care, all the more meaningful.
Erin Pennings is a content marketer with two young children who keep her on her toes. She is also an irreverent blogger who writes on family, food, and fitspiration at www.SalmonatSeven.com. You can follow her adventures on Facebook and Instagram and laugh with her at life and its insanity.