Moms are the busiest people I know.  Between keeping the house from looking like a hurricane went through it, keeping the kids fed, bathed, entertained, and basically alive, and for some, maintaining a busy work schedule, most of us don’t take time out for ourselves.  It’s a shame. For many of us it can feel like a never-ending cycle of always tending to the needs of others while we dream of an hour to ourselves.  Taking an hour for a relaxing massage, or fun evening with our girlfriends seems so out of reach and yet we so desperately yearn for it.  Moms are stressed out, overworked, and yet we never complain.  We go through each day doing our motherly duties, our wifely duties, our house duties, and our work duties, but we never take the time for ourselves.  This really needs to change.  It’s important for us to start implementing a self-care routine that allows us some “me time.”

What is Self-Care?

Self-care is things we do to nourish our physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing.  It’s the things we do to help us unwind, destress, and recharge.  Self-care is activities we engage in that brings us joy, relaxation, and contentment.  It’s important to remember everyone’s self-care routine is different.  What one mom finds as relaxing and invigorating, another mom will find stressful and tiresome.  Take working out as an example.  Some people love hitting the gym and going straight to the weights.  It makes them feel strong, happy, and gives them lots of energy.  That is not my cup of tea.  Lifting weights is anything but invigorating.  My joy in exercise comes from group exercise classes or workout videos where I can dance around in my living room or meet new people.  Everyone has their own way of taking care of their own unique needs.  Use your intuition to discover what works best for you.

Why is Self-Care So Important?

When you take care of yourself you are better able to care for those you love.  You are happier because you have taken some time to love on yourself.  You can be more present with your kids and husband.  You can focus better at work.  We can’t help the people we care about if our own emotional needs aren’t met.  We can’t be fully present and enjoy every moment of our kids’ lives if we are physically, emotionally, and mentally spent.

They key is making yourself a priority.  When you make yourself a priority, you have more to give to those you care about.  You are no longer running on empty trying to make sure everyone’s needs are being met while your needs have been left forgotten.  Developing a regular self-care routine gives us the opportunity to recharge, feel refreshed, and then be more totally present with our kids, husband, family, friends, and coworkers.

The problem is, a lot of us moms feel guilty about dropping everything to do a little self-loving.  Guilt is a powerful thing. It sneaks up on us and makes us feel like it’s selfish to put ourselves first.  Self-care is anything but selfish. I believe it is the ultimate form of love.  By taking time to perform self-care rituals every day, no matter how big or small, you are better able to express love to those around you.

How to Start a Self-Care Routine

I know what you are thinking.  There is only 24 hours in the day and 7 days a week.  Between, kids, pets, relationships, meetings, bills, cooking, cleaning, laundry, and work, finding the time seems impossible.  I get it.  Our plates are full.  The good news is, self-care doesn’t have to be this long drawn out thing that takes all day.  It could be a quick time out in your room listening to your favorite song.  It can be a brief walk around the block one Saturday afternoon while your husband entertains the kids.  A self-care practice can last anywhere from 2 minutes to 2 hours.  It’s whatever you need to feel recharged.

Here are a few tips to get started right away:

Ask for Help

You may need to get your husband involved to entertain the kids for a minute while you go to the gym, or spend some time reading a book.  Explain to your husband why you need his help.  It was very eye opening for me when I had this chat with my husband.  He was very eager to let me take time for myself.  In fact, he told me, “Whatever you need me to do, I’m here to help.  I want you to be happy.”  If your husband is not available, then ask your mom, your best friend, your neighbor, or even get a babysitter to come help.

Ignore the Naysayers

There are some people out there who consider regular time for ourselves as selfish.  Don’t listen to them.  You are the expert of your own life.  You know what is right for you and your family.  Develop a self-care routine you feel good about.  If taking an hour for yourself doesn’t feel good, then do 30 minutes, or 15 minutes.  When you do take the time out for some self-love, not everyone is going to get it.  You may get some side eyes, or whispers.  That’s ok.  A lot of times people will have negative opinions about things you do and it has nothing to do with you.  Instead, it’s more about their own internal struggle.  They may feel a bit jealous because you have learned to take time for yourself and you are happier because of it.  As long as you know you are doing what’s best for you and your family, don’t worry about what everyone else has to say about it.  It doesn’t matter.

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Make a Commitment to Yourself and Stick to It

Before anything else, you must decide that you are going to start taking more time for yourself.  Making that first decision is the hardest part but once you decide it becomes easier and easier to commit to your self-care practice.  You can pick a day and time during the week that will give you the most nourishment.  Remember, you don’t have to do it every day.  You can do it once a week, twice a week, or five times a week.  Whatever works for you and feels most satisfying.   And, it doesn’t have to take a long time.  If all you can commit to right now is once a week for 10 minutes, that’s great!  Pick the day and time that works best and stick to it.  Ask for help so you don’t miss this appointment with yourself.  Act like this is an important meeting with your boss that can’t be missed.  Do whatever it takes to make this appointment.

Pick a Self-Care Activity

Ok, so you’ve enlisted help from your husband, you’ve picked a day and a time, you’ve committed to your appointment with yourself, but now what?  Again, this is where your intuition comes in as to what works best for you.  Find activities that are invigorating and make you feel recharged.  Everyone has different activities that work well for them.  Try different things and find what works and what doesn’t work.  To get you started on thinking up some ideas here is a list of 10 things I love to do to nourish my mind, body, and soul:

  • Cook a healthy meal
  • Take a bubble bath
  • Read a good book
  • Journal
  • Take a nap
  • Go for a walk at the lake front
  • Have a dance party
  • Do a workout video
  • Have lunch with my girlfriends
  • Get a massage

As you become more accustomed to taking more time for yourself you will begin to feel the benefits.  You feel more relaxed.  You have more patience with the kids.  You are more engaged in conversation with your husband.  You are more productive at work.  As your self-care rituals improve, you will find it easier and easier to make self-care a daily habit because you know how beneficial it is to your life and to everyone around you.

Do you have any self-care ideas?  We would love to hear them.

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Ashley N. is originally from Baton Rouge and moved to Mandeville with her husband and their 2 children. She loves to dance, cook, and spend time with her family. When she is not working as an occupational therapist, Ashley has a thriving health coaching practice. Her coaching focuses on helping busy, working moms find balance between family, life, and health. She also blogs at www.happyhealthyandwell.com where she shares tips, tricks, and insights on living a healthy lifestyle while still having time for family and work.

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