The 6 Most Important Self-Care Tips for Busy Moms
I have a confession to make…self-care is something I have kind of sucked at for most of my adult life. As a busy, work-at-home Mom of 3, I have always prioritized my children, my marriage, my work, my household responsibilities, my friendships, and basically everything else…over me!
Somehow, everyone and everything else seemed to take all of my mental and physical energy, I allowed myself to believe the lie that putting myself last was the more noble or altruistic thing to do. Maybe you can relate?
Are you a busy Mom who struggles with self-care? Are you always putting yourself last, believing that “If I can just get through this parenting phase, this busy season of work, this conflict in my marriage, or this health challenge…then I can finally make some time for myself.”
I believed that lie for the longest time…through my years as a busy Mom working outside the home, when I switched to working at home and was growing several business ventures, as my family started growing from one to two and eventually three children…until I was so burnt out….exhausted, physically, mentally, and spiritually…and basically falling apart.
One day, I woke up and didn’t recognize myself anymore. My eyes had dark circles underneath them, I had new wrinkles forming in that worry zone between the eyes, my hair was brittle and thinning, and I lacked the spark of joy that used to be visible in my eyes.
The worst part was that all of the things I told myself I was sacrificing for (my children, my marriage, my work, home) were also falling to pieces. I was an angry, resentful Mom, my husband and I were constantly fighting, my businesses were failing, and my house was in a state of utter chaos with laundry and dishes piling up faster than I could keep up with.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to be an amazing Mother, wife, thriving in your household and rocking a business too…but in order to really be the superstar you want to be in all these areas…you have to take care of you first.
Lesson #1: Fill Your Own Bucket First
I love this analogy! I’m a visual person and it is so much easier for me to understand this concept when I picture myself holding a big bucket and trying to fill up all of the cups around me (the cups being my family, work, etc.). If I don’t first fill up MY bucket, how am I ever going to have enough water to fill up all of their cups too?
How do you do this? Start your day off with one self-care practice that is just for you. I am a big advocate of waking up early, before your kids. Why? Because this way, you can start your day off as YOU…not as Mom, wife, and whatever other titles you may wear throughout your day.
Maybe you get up early to pray and read your Bible, exercise, or just to drink your (first) cup of coffee in peace…whatever it is, make sure it is something that feels energizing and motivating to make sure you actually get out of bed!
Lesson #2: Keep Being YOU
As Moms, it is easy to fall into the trap of believing that self-sacrifice is somehow part of being a Mom. We justify sacrificing ourselves in the name of Motherhood, slowly giving more and more of our former selves up in order to be the perfect Mom and have the perfect children.
The problem is, if we give all of ourselves to parenting/being Mom, we lose ourselves in the process and what happens when our kids grow up and move out? Without the demanding tasks of Motherhood, we are left with nothing to focus on and just a shell of who we used to be. This is when mid-life crises happen, marriages fall apart, and depression can set it.
No matter how busy or challenging life becomes, stay true to yourself. If you love kayaking or rock climbing, keep doing them! If you used to be an avid runner, don’t quit! Did you play on a sports team during high school, dance, or have some other hobby that made you feel alive? Don’t stop just because you are a Mom!
It may mean cutting back and only getting to participate in your favorite activity once a month for the time being, but for those few precious minutes or hours…you will be you again…and that can be enough to keep you going through sleepless nights and temper tantrums, or when you feel like Motherhood is all consuming!
Lesson #3: Stop Comparing
Nothing can be worse than feeling like you don’t measure up. With ad campaigns and images in magazines featuring famous Moms who seem to have it all together, Facebook and Insta spewing a constant barrage of seemingly picture perfect families, and those perfect Moms at play group who have beautiful hair, a fresh manicure, trendy outfits, and a baby who started talking in full sentences at 6 months. No wonder us Moms are always comparing ourselves and feeling like we are coming up short!
You have no idea how many times that perfect family on Facebook had to retake that picture-perfect photo, the number of nannies that celebrity Mom has working for her, or the eating disorder that perfect Mom has to be able to fit into those skinny jeans. Can we all just make a pact as Moms to stop the comparison game and just be real with each other? Judgment free!
Start by just being true to yourself. Honestly, perfection is way over-rated anyways. It’s 100% okay to rock out no make-up, a messy bun, and sweat pants if that is what you feel like. If you’ve had a rough night and don’t feel like going to that baby shower, don’t go! Being authentic and real, especially in front of your kids, is one of the best lessons you can teach them!
Lesson #4: Tribe Up
Now that we’ve got that comparison thing out of the way, it’s time to band together as Moms. It may be cliché, but it really does take a village! Raising tiny humans is the hardest job on the planet, so why do it alone? I was on my parenting journey solo for the longest time…and then I found my tribe at a Mom2Mom weekly Bible study at my church.
Having a group of women who get me and can completely relate to my struggles as a Mom has been the best thing for me on so many levels. I have friends I can reach out to at 3am when I am up nursing my baby…I can call on a friend to babysit one of my kids last minute when I have to rush to an emergency at school…and nothing can stand between me and girls nights where we can escape for a couple of hours to just hang out and have fun sans kids!
Don’t have a Mom tribe yet? I am naturally very introverted, and finding a tribe wasn’t something I was exactly excited about. So if you are shy or just unsure where to find your tribe, I recommend joining a playgroup, Mommy meet-up, Bible study for Moms, or even an online community such as your local Mommy group on Facebook. I guarantee there are other Moms out there looking for their tribe too! Why not do Motherhood together?
Lesson #5: Be Humble
21st Century Moms are under a lot of pressure to be it all. With inflation and all the costs associated now with raising kids, most families require two incomes just to get by. Many working Moms still take it upon themselves to cook the meals, do the shopping, manage the kids schedules, drive the carpool, clean the house, and the list could go on. Even if you are a stay-at-home Mom, finding the time to manage all of these responsibilities and attend to your children can be nearly impossible!
Stop trying to do it all yourself! I am a bit of a control freak, and struggle with the notion that if I want something done right I should just do it myself. This belief led me to feel like I was the only one who could cook the meals, change the diapers, feed my babies, mop my floors, and pack the school lunches. When my husband or extended family offered to help, I turned them down saying that all too common Mom phrase, “I can handle it.”
Accept help! What is the worst thing that could happen? Maybe it isn’t done YOUR way, but who cares? It got done! Be humble, and allow others to help you lighten your load. Next time your husband offers (or is told) to do the dishes, use those precious 20 minutes to take a bath, paint your nails, or cozy up with a good book and a hot cup of tea. Believe me, your family will be happy you accepted help when they see how much calmer and joyful you are when you’ve taken that time to yourself.
Lesson #6: Create a Self-Care Routine
Let’s face it…all of these tips on self-care will fall flat unless you find a way to incorporate them into your daily life. But, in order to find time you have to make time! We all know that if there is one thing we never seem to have enough of, it is time. Self-care shouldn’t be just another thing you have to squeeze into your day…
Start by getting organized. I am a big fan of lists, schedules, calendars, and charts. If you don’t learn to manage your time, it will manage you. Create schedules for all of your required tasks, such as cleaning, work obligations, etc. I schedule everything down to when I will do meal planning, go shopping, even clean my bathrooms! Knowing I have a space in my agenda for all of these important tasks allows me to relax and enjoy ME time without stressing about when I will find the time for everything else.
Examples of activities that you can schedule into your day as part of your self-care routine include working out, a facial regimen, putting lotion on after your shower, drinking lots of water throughout the day, diffusing uplifting essential oils, a piece of dark chocolate after lunch, a nap or some reading time while baby naps, listening to your favorite music in the car, a bubble bath with a glass of wine, journaling before bed, or taking that yoga class you’ve always thought about.
What fills your personal bucket each day will be different from what fills mine, so find out what feels nourishing to your soul and make the space for it in your day. Give yourself permission to do at least one special thing for YOU each and every day, and I promise you will be glad you did.
“An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly.”
“I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.”
– Audre Lorde
“Don’t sacrifice yourself too much, because if you sacrifice too much there’s nothing else you can give and nobody will care for you.”
– Karl Lagerfeld
“Self-care is not selfish. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”
– Eleanor Brownn
“Taking care of yourself doesn’t mean me first, it means me too.”
– L.R. Knost