I don’t actually love the term “self care.” I actually believe in being selfless, and dying to self, in order to express love for those around you. Isn’t that what we do as mothers every day? Do we ever really want to wake up and make the breakfast and pack the lunches at 6:30 am? How about watching our 5 year old’s “show” for the 600th time? Do we really want to sit through hours and hours of dance recitals and soccer practices? Well, a lot of the time, the answer is no, not really. But we do it because we are teaching, in tangible ways that children can understand, that they are loved, and they are our life’s work.
So when the term “self care” is used as an excuse to put yourself first, or to say that you “just don’t wipe runny noses,” (hit me up in the comments if you know where that’s from), I don’t agree with that. But when “self care” means being the best version of yourself so that you can serve your family in the best way possible, I’m all for that. As they say on airplanes, put your own oxygen on first, before you can help anyone else.
I’ve been in the trenches of parenting for 14 years. There was about a full decade when doing anything for myself really never even crossed my mind. The most I managed to do for myself was take a shower or get dressed or take a walk. But now that my youngest is 5, I am starting to rediscover some easy ways to make myself happier, and thus able to spend time connecting with my children and my husband with all of myself, instead of just the bits and pieces that were left over from a harried, neglected mom.
So how can you take care of yourself? I’ve found five simple things that you can do to recharge and regroup as a busy Mom.
1. Take care of your body.
Now, you will not find any affiliate links here. I’m not selling anything. I don’t care if you are a size 2 or a size 22. I am all for eating the Oreos and the cheese and the everything. But what’s really important is how you feel about your body. And in my experience, staying active and eating well are things that really make a difference.
I have always been a very active person. I bet there haven’t been more than 10 days out of a year that I haven’t exercised. But that’s only because I love it and my mental health suffers without. And I don’t do anything crazy. I mostly take walks outside because I love and need to be out in the sun, and I love to make my dog happy. Otherwise, I do a stationary bike or do yoga, and I do always count Disney days as a workout. 😉 So make the time to be active in a way that you love, and you will enjoy the endorphins that provides.
2. Find time for what you love.
If you love to sew, make a strict guideline for yourself to do it once a week. If you love to shop, aim to do it once a month! Whatever it is, put it on the schedule as if it is a task that needs done, just like your children’s homework or the laundry. Make it non-negotiable. I love to read. So a few years ago, as my children were getting older, I made a goal for myself to read a book for pleasure twice a week. And guess what? I ended up finishing some books! It often seems like there really isn’t another second in the day that’s free. But trust me, it’s there, and you will find it if you make it a priority.
3. Listen to music.
I have always loved music. When I was little, I would record Casey Kasem’s Top 40 countdown from the radio while we were at church on Sunday mornings. I would rush home to listen to the whole thing, and save those cassette tapes to listen to over and over. And you know what, I still feel the same way! I love listening to the radio, finding new songs and artists, and especially, enjoying all of the old 90’s music I loved as a preteen.
For the first time ever, I invested in a subscription to SiriusXM for my car. This seems like such an extravagance and something I never considered doing in the past. But they hooked me with the nonstop Christmas music, and then I fell in love with the 90’s station, the 50’s and 60’s, and even the Gospel stations! I make a conscious effort to listen to these stations, and my kids just get used to it. There’s no “kid music” in my car. My children are getting an education in 90’s rap and getting a happier mother at the same time.
4. Take a bath.
I know it sounds simple, but this easy habit is good for your body and your soul. If you hate baths, I implore you to give them a try again! But if you still hate them, find something else that’s soothing and quiet and peaceful. And then work it into your regular schedule! I made a goal for myself to take a bath once a week, and I’ve kept to it faithfully for almost a year! It’s a really easy self care habit that will make you feel like you were really kind to yourself.
5. Say no.
I know as women, we nearly torture ourselves with guilt. As I write this paragraph, I can easily think of about 5 things that I currently feel guilty about. So when I write this, I am still preaching to myself. Moms have a tendency to say yes to everything; to try to make everyone happy all the time. But as a mom of a large family, there’s one thing that I have had an express track in learning. I just really can’t make everyone happy all the time. And that’s true if you have one child or ten children. So when you have to say no to that party or that sleepover or that activity, just try and breath and let that guilt go.
Also, it’s more for another post, but find ways you can serve that feel easy and joyful for you. As you know, we volunteer at our local nursing home, and not only does that bring us joy, it doesn’t feel like an overwhelming burden. We look forward to it! But I know not everyone would feel the same way. You know what service I can’t handle? Bringing meals to people! It just takes over my life in a very stressful way that I can’t fully explain. So I decided a few years ago that bringing people meals was just not a way for my to serve others. Instead, I find the things that I’m good at, that feel natural for me, and say no to the rest. Without guilt. Or with just a little guilt. 😉
How about you? What are some of your best self care tips? Leave me some ideas in the comments!