Whether you have one baby or 13 like my grandmother, whether you stay home or work in an office, if you have a partner or are going at it alone, being a Mom is hard work. It can sometimes feel like your sole purpose in life is caring for others, and some days you feel like you’re running on empty.
One of the most important things to remember though, is that if you don’t take the time to care for yourself as well, it becomes harder and harder to care for others. As the saying goes, “You can’t pour from an empty cup”.
Whether you have only a spare five minutes, or you’re able to get a few hours to yourself, there are a lot of little things you can do to help recharge your batteries so to speak. Some are free, some may cost a little money, but there is something for all of us.
Go for a walk. This could be a solo walk, or it could be a walk with your kiddos or whole family, but for me, getting outside in the fresh air is an instant mood boost. At least once a week, we try to walk up to the local playground and run around.
Exercise. This doesn’t mean you need to go out and sign up for a half marathon. Find what works best for you…yoga, pilates, running, cross fit, jumping jacks. Just get your heart rate going. Because as we all know, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy…Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands. They just don’t.” (Name that movie!!)
Have a dance party. Sometimes you just have to crank up your favorites tunes (90’s are my jam…) and let loose! This is a great way to loosen up, blow off steam, and kids love it too, so it’s a great opportunity to see their new moves!
Read. Do you have a go-to book that you could read over and over? Escaping into another world is a fantastic way to relax and shut off the running to-do list in your head, even if it’s for fifteen minutes before bed.
Forget the chores for a day. Ignore the laundry until tomorrow, make chicken nuggets for dinner, leave the vacuum in the closet. Forget the chores and little tasks and just live in the moment.
Take a hot bath or shower. Once you have kids, showers tend to either last four minutes with an eye on the video monitor, or they have an audience. If you can pass responsibility off to your partner, take your time and enjoy the hot water, or even opt for a bubble bath with a book and a nice big
mug glass of wine.
Breathe. If you take a minute to really pay attention to your breathing, you’ll notice that you probably take pretty shallow breaths all day long. Take a few nice deep breaths and listen to how it sounds, and imagine your stress leaving you as you breathe out.
Write. Keep a simple notebook by your bed or on your desk and use it to jot down ideas, goals, poems, or simply things you’re grateful for.
Find a creative outlet. For me this is sewing, but it could be knitting, painting, singing, scrapbooking…just find something that makes you happy.
Hit the spa or salon. If your budget allows, treat yourself to a fresh hair cut or an afternoon at the spa. You’d be amazed at what a new style or an hour long massage or mani/pedi can do for your mood.
Rearrange furniture. Have you ever noticed that rearranging the furniture in a room always seems to make it feel bigger? Switching up the layout of your bedroom, living room, or office can also be enough to refresh your mind or give you a boost of creativity.
Drink plenty of water! You should aim to drink at least half your weight in ounces of water per day. (140 pounds…drink 70 ounces!) It’s good for your body, your skin, and just overall health. Dehydration can also affect your mood and attention…who wants to be grumpy and confused?
“Unplug” from social media. When you are already feeling overwhelmed and inadequate, the last thing you need is to spend time scrolling through your feed where it looks like all the other mommies in the world have all their s*** together. (News flash…they really don’t.) Take a few hours or a whole evening and put your phone down and just be with the people you’re with.
Perform a random act of kindness. This might seem counterintuitive when we’re talking about taking care of yourself. But something as simple as buying a stranger a coffee or complimenting their shoes can actually make you happier. It just feels great to know you might be improving someone else’s rough day.
Declutter. I’m not a super organized person. I SO wish I was…I just don’t think it’s in my makeup. But when I’m feeling overwhelmed or stressed out, it feels so good to organize or declutter a small area like my desk, my sewing room, my daughter’s toy area, etc. I feel like cleaning up a messy area just helps clean up a cluttered mind.
Treat yourself to fresh flowers. There is something about a bouquet of fresh flowers that always makes me smile. They just bring a little dash of happy into a room. And who says you need an occasion or need to wait for someone else to buy them?
Get plenty of sleep. Depending on where you are in your mothering journey, this may be easier said than done. If you are still in the infant stage, you are most likely getting up at least once a night. If you are past that stage but still have young children, you may be tempted to use the hours after their bedtime as a time to catch up on chores. Try to be mindful about the amount of sleep you get so you aren’t trying to trudge through your day groggy and laden with a bucket of coffee.
Plan a girls night out or a mama coffee date. Mom guilt is real…I get it. But taking the time to get together with your girlfriends is so important for your soul and mental health. Surrounding yourself with like-minded women that you can talk and laugh with will keep you sane and happy. And a night (or even *gasp* a weekend!) away from your littles will make coming back to them even sweeter. (Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and all that.)
Date your spouse. You don’t need to get dressed to the nines and hit a five-star restaurant to have a great date if it’s just not in the budget. (Although that could be fun too, if you can swing it!) It could be as simple as taking a drive to get ice cream, hitting a drive in movie, or simply going for a long walk just the two of you. Nurturing the relationship with the person you are raising your children with is crucial.
Ask for help. I can tell you without even meeting you, that you are doing an amazing job. But that doesn’t mean you have to be the only one doing said job. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. It is vital for your mental health. Knowing when to ask for help doesn’t mean you are inadequate or a failure. It means you are smart and realistic, and are doing the very best thing for yourself and your family.
I hope you could find something on this list that just felt right to your mind, body, and soul. Go ahead and take some time for yourself, Mama. You deserve it!!