4 Simple Self-Care Habits for Mothers
Updated: Mar 19
We seem to be in a new age of consciousness when it comes to raising our kids. We read books on parenting. We obsess over what they’re eating. We schedule activities. We put aside money in RESPs. We endlessly discuss choices, ideas, and ways to improve the lives of our children. And then, after all that work, we keep ourselves up at night wondering if we’re doing a good enough job!
But what about us? What about our needs, goals, and dare I say, wants? They simply must have some attention. It's not a luxury to take care of yourself my friend. In fact, the benefits of taking care of yourself will blow you away.And no one else can do it for you.
Self-care is a gift that you have to give to yourself over and over, in order to be the best possible version of that incomparable you.
In my experience, these 4 things have made me a much happier mother. Let's call them the basics. There are many lovely things you can do for yourself, but these are a great foundation, and have made the most positive and lasting contribution to my happiness . They take time and consistent effort, but without them, I become irritable, exhausted, and impatient. With them, I am a source of energy, compassion, and creativity. Even though I often have to talk myself into making these things a priority, I am always, always, so glad I did!
So, if you want to get on your way to becoming a much happier mama, sans burnout, then try giving just one of these things your attention for one week. The following week, add another item. Go slowly, and allow for failure, but don't give up on yourself! You are so worth it...
1) MEDITATION: Did you know the average person has approximately 40,000 thoughts per day? Whoa right? Meditation is a simple, free way to practise self-care, and it can give you relief from all of those meandering, repetitive thoughts.
Meditation can be as simple as reading a book intently, weeding your garden, or repeating a Sanskrit phrase for 3 minutes. Whatever form you choose, allow yourself a small space each day where you are more than just a series of thoughts in your brain.
If you’re unsure where to start, The Chopra Center’s 21 Day Meditation challenge is a great introduction to meditation. After a few days, I began to crave that time where I could be free from my meandering, repetitive thoughts, and feel profoundly grounded. It become easier to find the time to meditate, because I really wanted to do it!
2) SLEEP: You know that terrible saying, “You can sleep when you’re dead?” Well, ahem, you can’t. But, if you don’t get adequate sleep now, you are shortening your life span! (1) A chronic lack of sufficient sleep has been associated with: high blood pressure, diabetes, decrease in sex drive, decrease in long-term memory, increase in obesity, increase in depression and anxiety, and much, much more. (2)
We may not be able to get our perfect 8 hours a night every night, because let’s face it, our children sometimes need us during those hours. But, we can avoid staying up late trying to catch up on things we think we should do. Laundry. Dishes. Your latest netflix binge. It’s okay to do those things once in a while, but not night after night at the expense of your health.
3) PERSONAL CARE: I rarely wear makeup or dress up, but I very much admire a well-put together woman. I read once that you should wash your hair the day before you really need to, and that has seriously (and sadly) stuck with me. I always feel kind of amazing after I put in the effort to wash and style my hair. But, the prospect of doing so always makes me put it off for another day when I have more time.
But time, my friends, is very elusive. So, I urge you to seize the day and take that extra time to do whatever it is that makes you feel kind of amazing. Isn’t it so much nicer to look in the mirror and say “Wow!” instead of “Whoa!” Think about it.
4) EXERCISE: This one is a win-win. When you exercise, you, a) feel more energetic and b) are healthier, and therefore, c) look and feel better!
I know the list of reasons why you don’t have time to work out is long,but the benefits are so extraordinary that you’ve got to dismiss the list. The list will be there literally every day of your life, so put yourself on the list too.
A recent study has proposed that exercising for as little as 15 minutes a day can increase your life expectancy by three years! (3) Exercising can improve your mood, sex drive, and sleep, as well as prevent and manage a vast range of health problems.(4)
My cousin once said, “the hardest part of working out is putting on your shoes.” And it’s true. Once you get those shoes on and commit to your workout, it’s all downhill! The energy you receive is its own reward. You may have to experiment a little to find out what kind of a schedule and practice work for you. But just start with something that feels good.
Maybe you like to sweat it out on the treadmill or shake your butt in Zumba. Whatever works for you is what works! I know I often get too caught up in what the RIGHT form of exercise is when really any type of movement will do just fine. It has to fit into your regular life or you won’t do it. And you must do it!
How to Get Started with your Self-Care Routine
If you read all of this and still feel like you don’t have time for self-care, either you’re not being honest with yourself or you’re expectations are way too high. If you're new to this, pick just one thing to tackle for the next week. And keep your goals reasonable.
If you've never meditated before, don't try to do it for an hour every day, because that's just not going to happen (but wouldn't it be nice!) Instead, say to yourself, "I'm going to take 5 slow breaths before I get out of bed each day. When that starts to become a habit, try upping the goal to a 2 minute Sanskrit meditation in bed, and build from there.
When self-care starts to become a priority, you will be amazed at how you can fit it into your real life. And