The start of a new school year is stressful. Back to reality after a long summer, trying to get back to a routine, sports starting up again—it’s a pretty busy time. If your to-do list is anything like mine, it’s jam-packed with meetings, trying to eat healthy, work out consistently, and run a household. I usually put myself on the back burner. Between the pandemic and working full time, I made a promise to myself to focus more on self–care this year. Self–care isn’t selfish, it actually makes me a better wife, mom, and person.
Many moms (myself included) struggle with making time for themselves and I completely understand this. I have two small children, a husband, a full-time job, and several other obligations that take up a lot of my time. I realized that when I was taking a few minutes for myself, it actually made me more likely to want to play with my kids or engage with my husband. For a long time, I felt like I was losing parts of myself and I was being a lousy friend, mom, wife, daughter, and human in general. Over the past few months, I discovered that self-care isn’t selfish, it’s a necessity.
What is Self-Care?
First, let me clarify what self-care is and is not. Self–care is not grocery shopping alone. Going to the grocery store is not relaxing. Showering alone is also not self-care. Taking time to bathe yourself in private is a human right that everyone (yes, even moms) should be afforded. Also, it should not be a time where children are allowed to bang on the door and scream and yell…but this is motherhood and sometimes, there is no hiding from these little creatures we have created.
Self-care means different things to everyone. For me, it has changed a lot over the last 18 months. I used to really enjoy hitting happy hour after work on a Friday with coworkers. It was fun to rehash the craziness of our week and enjoy an adult beverage. Now, in our current climate, going to a bar or restaurant is not as relaxing and fun as it used to be.
Going out to dinner on the weekends is something my family and I have always done. I cook during the week and I refuse to cook on the weekends. Since I became a mom, I have enrolled in a meal delivery service. It’s been life-changing in a lot of ways, but mainly, it takes the pressure off what to make for dinner. While it might not be the most cost-effective solution, it saves my sanity, which is well worth it in my book. The added bonus is when my kids get to try different foods.
Everyone’s idea of self-care looks different. Here are some things I have found helpful for my mental health and well-being:
- Exercise. We all know exercise is good for your body, but it has also been good for my head. Upbeat music, interesting podcasts, or even silence have all been helpful in getting me in the zone. I recently jumped on the indoor cycling trend and invested in bike of my own. The quick-paced workout is just enough to give me a break from my mom duties and break a sweat. You don’t need a fancy piece of workout equipment. Just going for a quick walk alone and listening to a new podcast helps. (I am really enjoying true crime podcasts lately).
- Naps. I have always loved naps. With two small children, my time to nap is minimal. I do try to sneak in a quick power nap when I can. This might not even mean falling asleep, it might mean just shutting my eyes for five or ten minutes and meditating. Sometimes though, depending on how well my youngest daughter sleeps at night, it might be a 20-minute power nap. Usually I feel so much better and refreshed after I take a quick snooze. I can conquer the rest of the day without too many yawns.
- At-Home Beauty Treatments. I am a sucker for beauty treatments. I enjoy everything from a good facial to the occasional visit to the medical spa to get Botox. As much as I wish I could, it’s tough to be able to schedule outside services every time. There are still a few things you can do at home to pamper yourself. I have enjoyed Baby Foot Foot Peels, a nice face cream, and I even attempted my own dip nails when salons were shut down.
- Reading. I have always been an avid reader. While my taste in books has changed over the years, I have always enjoyed reading. I especially like to read now when my kids are watching the same Bluey or God forbid, a Blippi episode for the umpteenth time. I also think it’s good for my children to see my nose buried in a book rather than my computer for work or scrolling social media on my phone. My new favorite genre are thrillers. Check out Detroit Mom’s suggestions for some spooky reads.
You do You
While these are some suggestions that have worked for me, some days it is just not possible to sneak in a workout or try to paint your nails. I think our first step is acknowledging that taking care of ourselves as women and mothers is important. Once we realize that self-care isn’t selfish, and it actually makes us better people, I think the more likely we are to let ourselves have a few moments to ourselves. Go ahead mama, give yourself a few minutes to take care of you so you can take care of the ones you love.