We’ve all heard how important self-care is for us but as busy mums we’re often terrible at actually setting aside time for it.
Whatever age your children are, if you’re juggling parenting with work and household chores then it’s a lot to keep on top of.
Chances are on the list of priorities, your own wellbeing comes down somewhere right at the bottom. And in fact, because time is so precious, it’s often the case that mums cannot even find time to prioritise themselves at all.
A study found that mums get just 17 minutes to themselves per day.
So while I know that self-care seems like an impossible dream if you’re juggling 101 things, in fact all you need to do is change your mindset and allow it to become part of your daily life.
And while it seems like you have no time for you, self-care isn’t just about alone time every single day.
It’s also about putting routines and mindsets in place that can help you approach the day, however stressful in a positive way.
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Why is self-care important for parents?
Ever heard the phrase “you cannot pour from a cup that is empty”?
Young children take and take. That’s not a criticism, they’re just doing what all kids do to survive and learn. They are completely dependent on you for everything from food to comfort to advice to physical care.
And while the reward of being a parent cannot be measured, being on the relentless parenting treadmill with no break in sight takes its toll.
By taking a break, you are doing what’s best for your children by providing them with a parent who is happier and more positive. Being a martyr for your family will only ultimately result in you feeling worn down and possibly more prone to losing your temper.
Proper, regular restorative time, which you can look forward to, can work wonders for a positive mindset, according to this piece in the Washington Post.
So here are some self-care tips and ideas for exhausted mums that should give you a helping hand to incorporate it into your every day routine.
Self-care tips for mums
Find creative ways to make time for yourself
Time is precious, so you need to find ways to make time for yourself.
Get creative and rethink your routine. Don’t carry on with a routine that is not allowing you any room to breathe.
Sit down with your partner and discuss where you can fit time for yourself, with no responsibility for children, cooking or anything else, into your schedule.
This may involve carving out 30 minutes to an hour in an evening, or getting up earlier than everyone else.
It may be that you agree on one day a month where your partner takes the children out for some quality time and you get time to yourself. You could use this day to pick up a new hobby or class, or to meet up with friends.
The first step is to accept your routine needs to bend a little to allow you this important time. Next you need to go through the practicality of how you can make it happen. Don’t be afraid to ask loved ones for help, you will be surprised at how willing they are to step in and give you a helping hand.
Develop a self-care morning routine that works
You may find getting up earlier sets you up well for the day. If you do get up earlier than the rest of the house you can:
Set aside time to meditate, do yoga or sit peacefully for a few minutes
Eat, have a cup of coffee and mentally prepare for the day ahead
Get yourself ready – being dressed and feeling good about how you look is a great way to start the day on a positive note
Prepare the house – get out the kids’ toys or pack the bag you will need to go out later
Have a growth mindset
A lot of emphasis has been put on growth mindset at my daughter’s school but it’s also something that we as adults should be using too. It’s never too late!
A growth mindset is where you believe that you can develop your skills and talents with hard work. It means that when you decide upon a goal you would like to achieve, you have a mindset that is more positive about finding solutions to help you get there.
In contrast, a fixed mindset is where someone believes their intelligence and abilities are fixed. This means they feel there is nothing they can do to better themselves.
You can nurture your own growth mindset by thinking of goals, however small, and writing them down. Next decide on a path or series of steps you will need to take in order to make that happen.
Get regular exercise
Exercise is important for all kinds of reasons but in terms of self-care it’s key because it gives you a mental break and energises you.
At its core self-care is all about improving ourselves, and wellness and fitness are all part of that.
The act of exercise releases endorphins, which is the happy hormone! It can reduce stress and help you to manage depression.
Some great self-care exercise ideas for mums include:
- Couch to 10k
- YouTube exercise classes
31 self-care ideas for mums
1. Have a bath
If you can’t get out to a spa, then bring the spa to you.
Light scented candles and relax in the bath. Have some books and magazines at hand too.
2. Paint your nails
3. Put on a face mask
Why not try a homemade version? There are some wonderful face mask recipes over on the Elle website.
4. Read a book
Whether you prefer reading on your Kindle or actual books, you can never underestimate how good escaping into a good book can make you feel.
It’s about escapism from your mental worries. Plus finishing a book always feels like an achievement!
5. Go for a walk
6. Take a mindful moment
Take some time to sit quietly and clear your mind of all the noise. Think of nothing but your breathing and where you are right in that moment.
Even spending a couple of minutes per day doing this type of low maintenance meditation can work wonders for your mindset. You can read more about mindfulness over on the Mindful website.
7. Make a list of goals for the week
When writing the list be sure that it is achievable. It may even be best to write just one thing – the thing you want to get done above anything else – on the list.
Next put the list where you can see it, such as on the fridge, and be sure to set aside time to get that thing done.
Whether it’s decluttering a room or setting aside some space where you can work or do a hobby, you will feel good once you’ve achieved it.
8. Ditch the devices
Unplugging yourself from the technology is a liberating experience.
The endless scrolling on social media, plus the highs and horrible lows of chasing friends and likes, can be terrible for your mental health.
It can also distract you from quality time with your loved ones.
Make time every day to switch off phones and iPads and just enjoy time having a conversation or even doing a puzzle together.
9. Find a peaceful sanctuary
Create a corner of the house that is just for you that makes it easier for you to relax.
Make this a place where you can close a door and get some quiet.
If you work from home, it could be a nice working corner. Add artwork and small houseplants to make your office space a place that makes you smile.
10. Decorate a room
Fed up of your tired decor? Pick up a paintbrush and redecorate a room.
Giving your house a facelift can offer a real boost to your mindset.
11. Phone a friend
12. Edit your social media feed
Stop following the accounts on social media that make you feel bad.
For whatever reason social media accounts may make you question your own self-worth. If unfollowing someone would make for an awkward conversation, you can always mute them so you don’t see their posts in your feed.
13. Plan something to look forward to
Whether it’s booking a holiday or planning a night out with a friend, it can really help to have something ahead that will be fun.
Try to always have something in the diary that you cannot wait to do.
14. Cook or bake
Find a new recipe that you’ve never done before and give it a go.
15. Practice gratitude
Write down three things that you are grateful for. Add to the list as and when you can.
Read this list often when you need to boost your mood and remember the positive things in your life.
16. Declutter your space
Got a messy room that’s driving you crazy? Set aside time to clear it out, and enlist your family to help too!
17. Take time out from parenting
Removing the responsibility of thinking about what your kids need next is a really great way to destress.
While hiding in the toilet may feel good for five minutes, find a way to give you lengthier periods of time away from the kids.
18. Get an early night
Did you know we should be getting seven and nine hours of sleep?
If you tend to be a night owl, but your kids are up at the crack of dawn, it may be time to consider bringing your bedtime forward.
19. Find a new podcast
Whether you love informative, fun or entertaining podcasts, you can find something that will grab you.
Try introducing a routine for listening to your podcast. For example you could take a walk alone and listen to it. Or you could take 30 minutes to lay down in your bedroom, alone, and listen to a podcast.
20. Take up a new hobby
There are tons of hobbies you could try.
There’s a whole list of hobbies for mums over on this post.
21. Try journaling
If you have a creative flare then there are some beautiful bullet journaling practices you can try including themed pages and illustrations. It can be a wonderful outlet.
If you would prefer to keep it simple, then use a bullet journal as a way to record things such as all of the positives that happened in your day.
There are lots of tips about getting started here.
22. Adult colouring
Did you know that Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, is a big fan of colouring books?
There are tons of colouring books you can buy online, with a theme to suit any taste.
This animal designs colouring book looks great.
23. Identify the issues that are weighing you down
Write down a worry list so that the stuff that’s really making you feel stressed is all out there in the the open.
Next go through each item and think about what you can do to solve those issues. Some may be simpler than others. The next step is to talk through your worries with a sympathetic relative or friend. Getting a different perspective on things can often make you feel so much better and give you a new approach to solving the issues.
24. Do just one thing at a time
Ever find yourself running around like a headless chicken?
Us women a pretty amazing at multi-tasking, but it doesn’t make for a stress-free life.
Force yourself to take one task at a time, crossing them off your list as you go.
25. Try out crossword puzzles or Sudoku
These not only distract your brain from thinking about your to-do list, but it’s satisfying when you complete a puzzle.
26. Take time out to slow down and hug the people you love
Hugs release happy hormones that can give you an instant lift.
Set time aside in your day to just sit down with your kids and have a cuddle. Chat about their day and what they like to do.
27. Get in the garden
Whatever kind of outdoor space you have, find a small project you can get your teeth into such as planting herbs.
If you don’t have a garden you can still find some indoor projects that work well.
28. Go to the cinema
Even if you don’t have someone to go with, heading to the cinema can be a wonderful way to take time out.
There are no distractions such as your phone and you can escape from your own life for a couple of hours.
29. Take a nap
Naps aren’t just for your kids! Try napping when your children take a nap, or spend 30 minutes on your sofa while the children are occupied with playing.
30. Stay up to date on your dental and medical appointments
Never skip or delay your smear test! While it’s not the most fun activity, it’s a key part of taking care of yourself.
31. Try something new
Whatever it is, give something brand new a chance.
Stepping out of your comfort zone can be a wonderful thing to distract you and take time out from your busy life.
Be creative. If you’ve always fancied paddle boarding, then look for local classes. Even if you didn’t enjoy it in the end, then look for something else to try.