I should be practicing self-care…but when on earth do I have the time?

Do you have those friends who  do yoga before work, take long evening walks with their partner, read three books a week, and can’t stop talking about how great meditation is for your mental health? Yes, me too…and most of them don’t have children.

I’m a mother of a 12, 8 & 5 year old with a baby on the way, I have this conversation with most of my friends a lot.

As parents we all know how important it is to take care of ourselves. When we can stay connected to our own well-being, it overflows onto our children and we’re more patient, loving, joyful parents. However, knowing and doing are completely different things.

I personally get caught in a constant cycle of I should, I will, and I didn’t today. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe on Sunday. Maybe next Sunday. The reality is that the struggle is real. It’s hard. But, at the end of the day you are better for it, and your kids will be better for it too.

Here are 10 self-care ideas that can help you unwind in under an hour. Some are big, some are small, but all of them are doable.

  1. Get a massage : Who is going to argue with this one? The benefits of massage are overwhelming, and research shows regular massage will reduce stress and anxiety AND help you sleep — umm, sleep.
  2. Declutter Something: Clutter can have a psychological impact on parents, which in turn can adversely affect their kids. Who needs more things sucking our brain power and energy, when we already have tiny humans working their hardest to do that? This doesn’t mean you have to get rid of everything, but getting rid of junk can drastically reduce stress and even take some checkboxes off of your to-do list. 
  3. Go for a Walk or Run : Self-care requires that we take a daily preventative approach to the care of our bodies. What does that more than exercise? Bonus? More time to yourself. 
  4. Call a friend you haven’t talked to in awhile : Self-care is about connection with yourself, but don’t forget that connecting with others is good for your soul too!
  5. Read : Whether you want to learn something new, or just be taken away for awhile, reading helps reduce stress and brain fog. So, work that most important muscle in your body! 
  6. Create a quiet space and go there : In today’s constantly connected world, finding time along has become a lost art. But, creating some time for solitude can have major benefits for your health.
  7. Listen to an energizing podcast : Podcasts are a great way to stay connected, learn something new, or just be entertained. Listen during the mundane tasks of your day. Here are a few ideas for parenting podcasts to get you started. Or, want to build on your self-care practice, here are a few podcasts on becoming your best self.
  8. Take a long shower or bath : More time for yourself is good for all of the reasons above. Put the kids to bed and take a minute (or twenty) to relax, reflect, and rejuvenate for the day ahead. Solitude can change your brain in amazing ways.
  9. Get a beauty treatment : As moms we take care of everyone else before ourselves. Sometimes that means forgetting to shave, or letting your eyebrows grow uncontrollably across your face. So get a wax treatment (if that’s your thing), book a quick facial or get your hair done. Your children think you are beautiful no matter what, but sometimes the littlest things can make us feel beautiful again.
  10. Ask for help: You’ve seen it, you may even be one—moms don’t ask for help. But asking for help doesn’t make you anything less than a superhero. And, the truth is, we generally are least likely to ask for help when we need it the most.

My message to you, new parents and pros… make time. You are important. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing! Do little things every day that take care of you. Maybe just start by doing one a day, maybe you do as many as you can. It’s called practice for a reason and it doesn’t have to be perfect. Start today, and make yourself a priority now and every day after.

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