Written by Brittany Masson, CLC Photo by PH888/shutterstock.com
You, mama, are a force. Cooking meals, soothing your little ones, scheduling the daily to-do’s, and lovingly answering those middle-of-the-night cries. It’s no wonder that it can feel like there’s little time left in the day for you—and trust, you’re not imagining that. A study by Welch’s found that between their jobs and caring for their families, working moms rack up a whopping 98 hours each week of clocked-in work time. With so much energy and attention being required by mothers, it’s crucial for their cups to be replenished. Self-care that allows for rest, healthy eating, and mental upkeep contributes to their ability to be patient, active, and present. The truth is that when mama is nurtured, the whole fam gets to cash in on that happiness and vitality.
But what can self-care look like in a mom’s life when nearly 100 percent of their waking hours are spent dedicated to the various roles that they play? Clinical psychologist Dr. John Gottman says, “Successful long-term relationships are created through small words, small gestures, and small acts.” This same sentiment can be applied to the relationship with yourself and how you practice self-care. With a little planning and intention, moms can reframe self-care as a series of simple practices woven into everyday life and begin to see the compounded positive effects on overall well-being.
Here are 7 hot tips for infusing your life with self-care without breaking the bank or drastically changing your routine.
1. Press pause once a day.
Set a daily reminder on your device to take 30 seconds for a few deep, calming breaths. If sitting down to meditate for 10-20 minutes feels like an impossible feat, get comfy with consistency over quantity. It may not seem like much, but these few moments of presence and calm make a huge difference over time. Explore apps like Insight Timer, Calm, or Headspace to schedule a daily reminder and access guided meditations.
2. Optimize one meal or snack each day.
Just feeding yourself can be tricky as a busy mom. Try homing in on one meal or snack and optimize it by prioritizing nutrition density. This can mean adding MCT oil and grass-fed butter to your morning coffee for the brain boost it gives you, loading the blender with tons of veggies and fruit for a smoothie that keeps you going, or making a big batch of protein balls, like these chocolate hemp ones from Oh She Glows, for a snack that fuels you.
3. Keep an eye out for quiet moments to capitalize on.
“Nap when the baby naps.” The advice all moms hear and yet, it’s not so simple in practice. Instead, look for small windows of opportunity for rest. Lay down and do a light stretch while playing with your baby on the floor. Close your eyes and breathe on a bench at the park with the kids. Take an extra beat before getting out of the car to run an errand. If you can relish in the gaps that the day naturally brings you, it takes the pressure off of trying to find longer stretches of downtime.
4. Reach for healthier energizers.
Instead of that fourth cup of coffee at 3 p.m., opt for matcha green tea as an afternoon pick-me-up. According to Healthline, matcha’s high concentration of flavonoids and L-theanine lessens jitters and causes no post-caffeine crash. For something even more natural, try a self-ear massage for raising your vibrations. Eastern medicine promotes this form of ear acupressure as an aid in boosting your energy. Simply hold your earlobe between your thumb and pointer finger and gently squeeze and release in small circular motions over the surface of the lobe, working your way up to the top of the ear. Continue for around 30 seconds until you notice your ears are slightly flushed in color and warm to the touch.
5. Take care of your future self.
Every evening, consider one thing you can do to ease the load the next day. Whether it’s picking your clothes out ahead of time, setting up your morning coffee, or writing a loose itinerary for the next day, these are small practices that contribute to your ability to take care of yourself. According to Stanford psychologist, BJ Fogg, “Design trumps willpower,” meaning that by creating ease for those practices in advance, you ‘design’ your day to be more successful.
6. Tap into your community.
No woman is an island, and that can be especially true for moms who may be feeling isolated or unsure. Combat this by actively cultivating and tending to your support systems, and you’ll quickly find there’s a host of friends and family eager to lend a hand or just an ear. Every Sunday evening, look at your calendar and schedule one date with a loved one for the week ahead. Whether it be something in-person or just a phone call, having that time scheduled gives you both something to look forward to, and space for you to lean on someone.
7. Make the mundane moments more joyful.
There’s a plethora of ways to increase the feel-good factor during activities you already do, like washing the dishes, folding the laundry, or commuting to work. Maybe it's listening to an audio book or favorite podcast, throwing on a new playlist, or watching a YouTube video to learn something new. Check out the podcast Good Inside with Dr. Becky for thoughtful parenting insight, or tune into The Cut for a timely episode exploring culture, style, or politics. This is a simple way to add joy to your day-to-day.