You’ve heard it a million times: take the time to take care of yourself. But how can you when you’re Saint Mommy, Cinderella (before she turns princess), short order cook, nurse (degree from Web MD) and professional Play-doh sculptor – and that’s all before lunch? When you take off your hundred hats at the end of the day, what’s left is a mom bomb just waiting to go off. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there.
That’s why it’s so important to prioritize your own health and happiness. A happy mom makes a happy family. A few minutes a day, or even a scheduled weekly or monthly “me time,” can be just enough to rejuvenate, gain perspective, and keep you sane. Here are some of our favorite ways to take care of number 1. You don’t have to do them all, just pick your favorite, try to stay on top of it regularly, and then add on to your ritual from there.
Don’t be a push over!
Set a routine bedtime schedule, and make the evening your time to think and “breathe, baby, breathe.” I may not have a fairy godmother, but when the clock strikes 9 pm and I don’t get my alone time–I turn into an angry pumpkin. Watch out. My nighttime ritual is a mental health investment, and if I don’t put in the time, everyone suffers. Regardless of what your need is, communicate it to the entire family, so mommy doesn’t start talking to the mice.
Wake up 15 minutes before everyone else does and savor that cup of coffee or tea in meditative silence. Read a 5-minute meditation and do some stretches on the mat. If you can’t leave your room without waking everyone else, roll out a yoga mat on the floor next to your bed.
Early morning or evening “me time” not possible? Give yourself (and everyone else) a midday timeout. During that period, put away all electronics and take a quiet break. Have the kids draw or write during this time so they can express themselves in a creative way. You get to put your feet up with a steaming cup of tea, tackle a few pages of a juicy novel, or just “rest your eyes.”
Indulge and Beautify
Schedule a monthly pedicure and get the extra 10-minute massage on each leg—you’ll get tension relief and pretty toes all at once. If that’s not in your budget, just lock the bathroom door and DIY your mani/pedi.
If nail care isn’t your thing, have a standing haircut appointment instead, be it every few weeks or three months. A facial is another option. If you feel good on the outside, it gives you a little boost on the inside.
I know what you’re thinking, but I’m talking about exercise! Instead of dinner and a movie or meeting at a café for coffee, get physical with your bonding time. Hike, walk, bike or skate as a way to spend time with a loved one. You’ll have a chance to catch up with your partner or friend and exercise at the same time time, you multi-tasking mama!
Keep up with your BFFs
Speaking of friends, maintain your friendships—make phone dates with friends when parenting leaves no room for in-person meet-ups—even if that means talking to them on a handset while you fold the laundry.
Ask your partner to pitch in and help when you feel overwhelmed. If you’re a single parent, ask family and friends. Accept offers to share carpooling duties. Schedule, but don’t always host play dates. Instead meet at the local playground–no cooking or cleaning necessary.
Hire a high school or college student to help with dishes while you prep food for the week or meet a friend for dinner. The student helper can oversee salad and pizza night for the kids. Before he or she leaves, ask that dishes be loaded in the dishwasher, the counters wiped, and the kitchen floor swept. Now back to that novel…
It’s okay to say “no” when you really don’t have time for it. Don’t agree to host the potluck dinner for Susie’s class. Yes, buy the Halloween costume for once—they want to be Batman and Hulk this year, anyway, not bejeweled, handcrafted, Pinterest-inspired butterflies.
I do a few of these regularly—I’m a busy mom, too, but I know that I can only be the best mom if I’m the best me. And I can only be the best me if I take care of myself! So don’t be afraid to put yourself first and do things that make you happy, support your mental health, and feel indulgent. Sometimes your family will just have to share you with yourself–soon they’ll see it’s worth it.