A Working Moms Guide to Fitting Self-Care Into Your Day
As if being a busy working mom isn’t enough, now you have to try to squeeze in self-care? I get it. There aren’t enough hours in the day for busy moms.
We spend all day working as quickly as possible to leave at a reasonable time. Then we come home and spend every spare minute with our kids since we only get to see them for about three hours a night. Once the kids are in bed, we do the clean-up and prep for the next day, all so we can do it all over again. Even with a helpful husband, it isn’t easy to squeeze everything into the day.
Forget the gym. Forget the days of mani-pedis and watching trash TV all day on a Saturday. Those are luxuries moms don’t have time for anymore. The problem is, when we keep pushing and pushing and pushing, we teach our children that we don’t value our own well-being. We also put our health at risk.
Stress causes a host of medical issues from depression and anxiety to weight gain and chronic medical conditions. Trust me, you don’t want to end up with a chronic health issue. I spend thousands of dollars out-of-pocket every year for my autoimmune condition – and that’s with a good insurance plan!
Small Acts of Self-Care
I know that it is hard to put yourself first. It is a challenge for most moms. One of my favorite phrases has become, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” I remind myself of this every time I feel guilty about taking time for myself.
Even if you can’t get away for hours to practice self-care, just adding moments of self-care into your day can make a difference in your well-being. Here are some small self-care acts you can squeeze in, no matter how busy you are. Remember, your children are watching. Do you want to teach them that their well-being and health belongs at the bottom of the totem pole?
- Take a Shower: New moms always talk about how they go days without showering and they feel so gross and stressed out. Even when I had a newborn, one thing I could not skip was my morning shower. In my case, one of the symptoms of my autoimmune condition is morning stiffness. I NEED the hot water to help me get moving. Even if you don’t need a hot shower to loosen your joints, making time for this self-care act can help you feel ready to face the day.
- Use Products with Aromatherapy Benefits: Use a shampoo or body wash with a scent that wakes you up or relaxes you. Slather on a luxurious lotion in a fragrance that makes you happy. Even if you aren’t going anywhere, put on your favorite fragrance or lotion so that you can enjoy it.
- Take a Minute to Breathe: Take a few minutes to actually enjoy a hot cup of coffee or tea. Sit down and sip slowly, preferably with a healthy breakfast. This is a tough-y if you have young kids. They seem to need something the second we sit down. If necessary, save your coffee moment for when you arrive at the office. Take a few minutes for self-care with a warm beverage and breathe before diving in to your day.
- Appreciate Nature: Take a second to appreciate the beauty of the world around you. My house is usually a toy-cluttered mess. However, when I walk outside, I can appreciate to crisp blue sky or the trees around us.
- Listen to Music: Play music that relaxes or energizes you while you enjoy your coffee or on your commute.
Self-Care During the Day:
- Make the Most of Your Commute: Don’t spend your commute time lamenting the traffic. Use that time to practice self-care. Listen to your favorite music, a podcast or an audio book. You can also take some time to call a friend or loved one (using Bluetooth!) to reconnect.
- Take a Quick Meditation Break: While some hard-core meditation experts say that you need to take 20 minutes twice a day to meditate, there is evidence that taking even 5 minutes for mindfulness or meditation has health benefits. Find a guide that works for you and try this self-care act during a quiet break in the day. If necessary, meditate in your car. Arrive at your kid’s school a bit early and listen to a mindfulness app. I do it all the time!
- Create Affirmations: Remind yourself of your value. Sometimes, as moms, we only notice our failures or focus on our guilt. Remind yourself that you are doing the best you can and your family is lucky to have someone like you who loves them so much. I always tell my son that no one is perfect and people make mistakes. Why am I so much more forgiving of others than I am of myself? Do you do that too?
- Get Outside: Take a walk outside in the fresh air. I don’t like to take a long lunch break because it means I might have to stay later to finish up my work. That doesn’t mean I can’t go outside for a 10 or 15 minute walk. Just getting outside and moving can help you reset your mind and help you focus better.
- Check Something Off Your List: While this doesn’t seem very self-care-y, checking something off your list that has been there for a while will make you feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. If you can’t do it all in one go, figure out how you can break it up into chunks.
- Buy Fresh Flowers: Lately, I’ve started buying a bunch of flowers when I grocery shop. For less than $10, I get a little sunshine on my dining room table for an entire week. I can sometimes stretch the bunch into two small bouquets to brighten up my entryway as well. If you can swing it in your budget, I highly recommend picking up some grocery store flowers.
- Eat Something Good For You: Self-care means taking care of your health. Even if you have to eat lunch at your desk, make sure lunch is something healthy. You don’t have to make it yourself. You can swing by a grocery store and hit the salad bar or get a salad from the café downstairs. Treat your body well by eating well.
Self-Care in the Evening:
If you are fortunate enough to have children who go to bed and stay in bed at a reasonable time, after bedtime is a great opportunity to work in some self-care. Even if you are stuck in my boat, with a three year old who doesn’t need naps but takes naps making him stay up until 11 p.m., you can still do a few self-care acts to relax.
Your goal in the evening is to wind down so that you can be relaxed enough for sleep. It can be hard to get a good night’s sleep when you are stressed out. These are the perfect small activities to help make your day manageable.
- Prepare for Tomorrow: Write out your to do list for tomorrow. Make the lunches, pack the backpacks. Do everything you can to make tomorrow morning run smoothly. This may not feel like self-care, but you’ll sleep better knowing you are ready for the day and your morning will be less hectic.
- Burn Your Favorite Candle: If you don’t have a favorite candle or scent, pick up a relaxing, sleep inducing scent like lavender, vanilla or jasmine.
- Do Something You Love: Do you love knitting or crafting? Set aside time to do something you enjoy. If you are having trouble squeezing in time because your little ones are demanding, find something you can do while they color or paint next to you, or something you can do after they are in bed.
- Stretch: Take a few minutes to get the kinks out. Pick some problem areas and figure out what the best stretches are for that area. I have neck, shoulder and hamstring issues so I usually work these areas before bed. I always feel better when I take time for this self-care act.
- Express Gratitude: Consider keeping a gratitude journal so that one of the last thoughts you have before going to sleep will be the good things in your life. Even if you’ve had an extremely difficult day, there is something to be thankful for – even if that something is that you survived the day. I always tell my son that tomorrow is another day, no matter how bad today was.
- Pamper Yourself: Pick up a thick, luxurious hand and foot lotion and slowly rub it into your skin. It will act as both a hand and foot massage and care for your skin.
- Read a Book: Pick up a book and read a few pages or a chapter before you go to bed. This one is tough for me. If I start reading a good book, I have a tough time putting it down so I tend to read a short magazine article or poke around on Pinterest. Do whatever you can to wind down and get a good night’s rest.
- Get a Good Night’s Rest.
Sometimes, the thought of creating a self-care routine can seem overwhelming. These easy self-care acts can be done by anyone, any time of day. You don’t have to do everything. Just pick one or two things at a time and add in more when you can.