Whether you’re a brand new mom of one or you have six tweens and teens, motherhood has its challenges at every stage. Chief among them? Not making time for self-care! When your number one priority is caring for a child (or several), your personal needs tend to take a back seat. That’s quite enough of that! You deserve to receive all the love and care you give.
Have your workouts fallen by the wayside? What about your favorite pastimes? When was the last time you took a bath, watched a good TV show, or went on a date with your partner?
Even if you have virtually no time, we have self-care ideas — curated through conversations with dozens of moms — that will help you recalibrate and refill your tank. Remember, put your oxygen mask on first, mama. You’re a better mom (and a better version of yourself!) when you take good care of you.
Self-Care Ideas For When You Have No Time
Say ‘No’ — it’s not mean or selfish to have a boundary! Reclaim some of your time (you know, all that time you don’t have!) by saying ‘no’ whenever you can; it’s a radical act of self-care to protect your time. If it doesn’t work for you, if it doesn’t fill your cup, if it doesn’t add joy and isn’t necessary, it’s a no.
Ask For Help — We talked to several moms to see what their go-to strategies were when they’re strapped for time; aside from saying no, their top tip was finding support systems and asking for help. “Just knowing who in your life can and will be there that you can ask for help from. Ask for a meal, ask for a listening ear, ask for a hangout. Just ask for help.”
Order Premade Meals — Whether it’s on work nights or just any night of the week, taking cooking out of the equation can give your brain and body a little respite so you can get to what you need: nourishment!
Call a Loved One From the Car — No time? What about when you’re in the car — driving to and from school or the office, or out running errands, use those precious minutes in the car to ‘phone a friend’ and get some social comfort and companionship. Your partner, your parent, your bestie, your coach… whomever. Vent, get a pep talk, or just catch up and fill that bucket back up.
Try an Audio Book or Podcast — Speaking of things you can do whilst in transit, a self-development or inspirational audiobook or podcast can be something you use for entertainment and self-care, particularly when you don’t have time for a good TV binge. Whether you’re in the car, doing dishes, folding laundry, or packing boxes for your at-home business (you’ve got a lot going on!), you can hear some powerful words of wisdom or simply something that makes you laugh and smile.
Do a Super Short Workout — We know you have no time… but maybe, just maybe, you have five minutes? Take them! Stretch, do a quick yoga flow, or maybe a rapid-fire series of exercises (Quickie Abs, anyone?). Head to the Quick Hits tab to find a 10-minute sweat session that fits your packed schedule and allows you some time to sweat and boost endorphins.
Self-Care For When You Need a Break
Binge a New Show — If you have the time to unwind and do something mindless, turn your brain off with a breezy show (or an old favorite!). Sometimes you just need to give your brain a break for a few hours.
Meditation — Give yourself a brain break! With so much on your plate — and mind! — it’s important to allow yourself a moment to reset. This is where meditation comes in. Try this in the morning, when you need a 4-minute break midday, or before bed to drift off to sleep.
Read — Another way to tune out of the chaos around you? Get lost in a good story. The quiet time and distraction from your everyday thoughts (and schedule) can be a powerfully restorative practice.
Take a Bath — Wash away stresses with a good soak. Some tranquil spa music (and maybe even some lavender bath salts?!) can help set the tone for a peaceful retreat at home.
Take Time Away — It can be particularly hard (logistically and emotionally) to physically be away from your baby or kiddos, especially if you need to either pump or feed. But if you’re able to steal away an hour or so, even several hours if you’re lucky, you can tune into yourself a bit. It can be challenging to get out of ‘mom mode’ mentally, but giving yourself a small break may allow you to check in with your own physical and emotional needs.
Do Some Yoga — This meditative movement is spiritual, healing, and powerful. Yoga, in all its forms, can provide more peace and balance in your life. Try a simple flow when you need a break (from life, from your tougher workouts, whatever it is!).
Self-Care Ideas For When You’re Exhausted
Drink a Matcha — This will have you feeling less wired (and agitated!) than you’d be with a cold brew but will still help give you a lift during the day when you’re drained but have to keep going. Though no amount of caffeine can truly make up for sleep deprivation, this powerful green tea can help you when sleep isn’t on the menu. Bonus points if you take your matcha outside and get some sunshine.
RELATED: I Swapped Coffee With Matcha For a Week & Here’s What Happened to My Energy
Create Your Bedtime Routine — Once bedtime is complete for the little ones, try creating your own bedtime routine to ensure you’re resting your brain and body. Think: meditation, journaling, hot tea, breathing exercises, a warm shower or bath, or even just skincare.
Sleep — OK, this might seem obvious or annoying, depending on your current situation, but it’s necessary! Sleep may feel like a thing of the past once you become a parent, but the fundamental truth is that you’ll fall apart if you’re sleep-deprived. Find ways to prioritize any kind of sleep, whether you steal a night away staycation style, grab naps throughout the day when baby is sleeping, or schedule a weekend in which you can sleep in for a couple of days in a row.
Schedule Some Alone Time — Put it in the calendar! Call a family member or friend (or ask your partner for help) to cover that chunk of time with the little ones, and use that time to nap, relax, or take part in any of these other self-care activities — it’s totally up to you!
Schedule Grocery Delivery — It’s one more thing to try to manage, right? Grocery trips can be fun when you’ve got time and energy, but when you’re drained and your kids are making you crazy (which is a normal feeling!!), it’s no longer “leisurely strolls through the aisles of Whole Foods.” Use a delivery service like Amazon Fresh or Instacart, set up recurring orders with your household staples, and then let the rest be handled. A true ‘set it and forget it’ moment.
Get a Massage — How good does a massage sound right now? You deserve one. It’s not just a luxury but a deeply therapeutic health practice that can help release physical and mental tension. If you’re breastfeeding or pregnant and uncomfortable being on your stomach, call the spa or massage therapist and ask if they have proper pillows — typically, they do have equipment designed for moms at different stages so they can enjoy this therapy too!
Stretch It Out — Speaking of tense muscles, when was the last time you stretched? When you’re tired and haven’t slept enough, your body pays the price (we’re certain you’re familiar with this concept already). Try a Stretch to Restore to feel some healing powers, even if you can’t make it to the massage table just yet.
Self-Care Ideas For The Working Mom
Take a Long Uninterrupted Shower — Sometimes, the simplest things feel like the greatest luxuries. Give yourself a solid chunk of time to do an “everything shower.” Do a face mask, a hair mask, a scrub… sky’s the limit with this one. Put on some relaxing music or enjoy some much-needed quiet time.
Hire a Housekeeper — If you have the capacity to bring someone in even just once, getting help to clean your house can take so much off of your plate and give you a clear, clean, peaceful environment to come home to. Double duty!
Make a Sleepy Time Tea — A little boost to your nighttime routine — this can help you get some necessary rest so you can feel better the next day.
Set a Phone Curfew — It’s time to unplug! Turn off emails, texts, and tech. Reclaim your time, your brain space, your mental energy, and your sense of peace by picking a time in the evening to put your phone on the charger or in a drawer, and not thinking about it until the next morning.
Take Walks On Your Days Off — We chatted with a mom who spends half her week at a hospital as a nurse, the other half taking care of a 6-month-old. Her favorite self-care? An off-day walk. Whether she’s solo, with the baby (a good ol’ stroller walk), with the dog, or with her partner, a walk helps her clear her head and gets the blood flowing. Give it a try when you have an hour!
Find Workplace Support — Another working mom we spoke to says, “Finding trusted coworkers that can support you professionally — and care about you personally — is magical. These are people who you can be open and vulnerable with and ask for support when needed.” Solidarity is powerful. Find people you trust to have in your circle at work — perhaps other working parents — and find strength together.
Self-Care Ideas For the Stay at Home Mom
Schedule Time With Your Partner — When was the last time you had a date night, or even just a movie night? Put something on the books for just the two of you. This can also translate to kid-free time with your best friend, parent, or closest confidant.
Plan Quality Family Time — If you’re with your kids all day every day, it can begin to feel like everything blurs together, which isn’t always awesome for your mental health. Try setting some clear, established activities and make mental room for quality time with the whole gang. Think: evening walks with the fam, a group playtime or exercise sesh, eating dinner together (maybe even with a theme!), establishing a fun bath time routine, or family weekend activities that keep things new and fresh.
Exercise With The Kids — Speaking of that quality time, how about a 2-for-1 special where you can get a workout in and spend time with the little ones? Did you know FitOn has a plethora of family-friendly workouts? You can dance, do a family flow, or even get the kids to chill out a bit with calming yoga.
Make Time For Your Interests — Many of the moms we chatted with emphasized the importance of finding time for your hobbies, interests, and passions. What were things you loved before becoming a mom? Do you miss those things? Can you make some time for them? Think: painting, Pilates, learning languages, reading or partaking in a book club, baking, etc. Make some time for yourself to do these things on your own, and maybe involve the kids at some point, too! You can inspire your children to pursue their passions by demonstrating how to do so yourself.
Get Yourself Some Clothes! — Some moms brought up that buying different sizes of clothes helps you adapt to a changing body throughout motherhood. From immediate postpartum to a year out, you’ll go through plenty of physiological changes. Take care of yourself and treat yourself to something that looks and feels nice, and gets you excited to change out of your usual sweatpants and baggy tee (which, by the way, is a totally acceptable outfit!).
Self Care Isn’t Selfish; It’s Essential
Mamas have a lot on their plate, and it’s easy to forgo those little acts of self-care when there are little ones to care for. But remember that taking better care of YOU is essential — you cannot pour from an empty cup! So mamas, listen up — self-care is never selfish — it’s actually essential, and no matter how much free time you have or what season of motherhood you are in, don’t forget to schedule in that self-care. Whether it’s 10 minutes per day, or two hours a week, find what works for you and put it on the calendar.