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Being a mom is the most rewarding, life-giving, and meaningful "job" I've ever had. It's a joy to see my kids learn, grow, and grow into themselves. At the same time, being a mom is the most difficult, exhausting, never-ending job I've ever had. For the mom out there who identifies with this dichotomy, and is looking for some simple self care ideas for moms - this post is for you.
To me, self care means more than just journaling, meditating, or doing yoga (although those things are great). You can practice self care in tons of different ways...as long as you're being intentional to relax your mind, body, or soul.
Keep reading to learn more about simple self care ideas for moms, and self-care gifts as well.
What is self care for moms?
Your health is kind of like a puzzle. Food is a piece of the puzzle, as is fitness, and mental and emotional health are pieces too. Without one piece, the puzzle doesn’t quite look right. But when we find the missing piece and put it in its place, that’s when it’s beautiful. It’s complete. And whole.
When one piece is missing, your health is thrown out of whack. You might start developing health issues, your sleep might be compromised. You might just find yourself irritated without knowing why. Enter...self-care.
In its simplest terms...self care is caring for yourself.
This means caring for your physical health, mental health, paying attention to the food you’re putting in your body, and finding a supportive and loving community to surround yourself with.
Benefits of self care for moms
As moms, we are constantly pouring out whatever energy we have. We care for our kids, our husband, our friends, and family. But between all the errands, duties, and responsibilities, what’s missing?
Time for yourself. To slow down and take stock of how you're doing. I mean...how you're really doing.
I'm here to help moms find systems and strategies to make life easier and more manageable so they wake up each day, fully empowered to face the day. Because the truth is, if you want to be the best mom you can be, you've got to be taking care of yourself daily.
Four self care categories
You can care for your self (aka self-care) in four different categories.
- Mental Health
- Emotional Health/Social
- Physical Health/Fitness
We need to be deliberate in caring for our whole body. In the introduction of Brene Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection, she talks about how she has made the shift from continually pushing harder and harder, to slowing down when she's feeling drained.
She says, “I made a promise to myself that when I felt emotionally, physically, and spiritually done, I’d try slowing down rather than relying on my old standbys: pushing through, soldiering on, and sucking it up.”
And that sentence in itself, is a great example of exhibiting self-care. It’s being intentional to slow down, rather than push on even when you know something is "off".
What do you need to do right now...to care for yourself best?
If what you need is to spend an hour cooking dinner by yourself to relax, be intentional and do it. Make it fun. Self-care is anything that helps you intentionally care for your self.
Set the kids up with a 20 minute activity so you can have some time to yourself.
But you can’t half-way do self-care. If what I need is some good Netflix time, keeping it on in the background while I’m working on my computer is NOT self-care. Self care is saying “work can wait” and closing the computer.
Self Care Ideas for moms - Eating Healthy & Nourishing Food
Most of what I write about here on Scratch To Basics is centered around food. After all, I started this blog when I was in the middle of my own health journey, as I was realizing the power of eating real food. And I really do believe that food is medicine.
Here are self care ideas that are food-related.
1 - Make a meal plan
Meal planning is one way that I care for myself each week. When I compare my attitude and mood on the weeks when I don’t meal plan to the weeks when I do. There’s a noticeable difference in my stress level.
Because you know what's stressful? Being half way through a recipe, only to realize I don't have all the ingredients. Grab these meal planning templates to get you started. And if you'd rather use a pre-made meal plan, sign up for two free weeks at Prep Dish here.
2 - Ask your family to help in the kitchen
Even if your kids are young, they can have a part in dinner time clean up and meal prep. Enroll your kids in this cooking course if you're looking a little assistance teaching them how to cook. Katie (the creator) is all about teaching kids to be confident in the kitchen (even with knives). If your kids are always begging for you to make them something to eat, grab these 20 healthy recipes that they can make by themselves!
3 - Eat a piece of dark chocolate
Chocolate is touted as a self-care indulgence for a reason. You’ve seen the commercials…”treat yourself to some chocolate…”. Chocolate tastes great, but it also helps calm your body. Dark chocolate is healthy. So enjoy some as a form of self-care today. You can see all my healthy dark chocolate recipes here.
4 - Start a garden
There’s a study I heard about recently that shows when you work with dirt, something incredible happens in your body. It’s healing. And incredibly therapeutic. Start a garden (herbs or vegetables are a great way to start) so you can get free therapy. Kind of like dirt therapy.
5 - Eat a bowl of berries
Berries are delicious, and healthy, too. Grab yourself a bowl today. Sit, relax, and enjoy. Top this chocolate pudding with some raspberries, or make yourself a berry smoothie.
6 - Order a meal kit delivery service
Take a couple nights off from planning and grocery shopping and just order the ingredients & recipe to be delivered with a meal kit delivery service.
7 - Visit a farm
A farm can be a really peaceful place. It can take you back to the simplicity of where your food comes from. Visit the face of a local farm at a roadside stand and enjoy local produce in your next meal.
8 - Pray, or just pause before you eat
The act of pausing before you eat your food is a centuries old tradition. Say a prayer of thanks before your meal as a way to say “thanks”. To God and to everyone who helped your food get to the table.
Self Care Ideas for moms - Mental Health
Caring for your mental health is another piece of self care for moms.
1 - Journal
Journaling has always had its place in my self care routine. Whether it's just writing to get stuff off my mind, or making a giant list in my journal, or writing to process something big, it's always been helpful. If your journaling habit has fallen by the wayside, grab one of these gratitude journals and get back in the habit with a simple sentence each day.
2 - Free-write
Sometimes when the thoughts are piling up in my head, all it takes is sitting down for ten minutes to get everything out of my head and onto the paper. By giving somewhere for the thoughts to go, you'll free up mental space to think about other things. It may seem too good to be true, but if your head is too full of the to-do lists and responsibilities, consider taking a few minutes to just write...and write...and write.
3 - Pray
Are you a person of faith? Make time in your day to pray. Here's a daily devotional from Max Lucado to help you work prayer into your daily life. Find a time that works for you - whether that's a few minutes before the craziness of the day begins, or after everybody is in bed.
4 - Meditate
Meditation is super trendy now, but that's not why it's on this list. It's on the list because taking a few minutes of silence - to clear your mind - is an incredible way to care for your self. I've found some great free meditation apps that offer guided questions and phrases with soothing music to assist. Or, grab a book like this one with 75 meditations.
5 - Read
Reading is a hobby that has gone by the wayside for me ever since becoming a mom. If you enjoy reading, I encourage you to carve out even just fifteen minutes a day and cozy up with a book that you enjoy. A story that draws you in. And enjoy it!
6 - Netflix
Binging on Netflix can totally be self-care. But only if it's something you're doing intentionally. Find a show you want to watch, then put everything else to the side and watch it. Bonus points if you cozy up with a blanket and a hot drink.
7 - Take some time to do something crafty
Do you enjoy crafting? Drawing? Painting? Knitting? Or creating something festive for your home during the holidays? Get in touch with the creative part of yourself and let your creativity show.
8 - Take a bath
What better way to wind down at the end of the day than relaxing in a warm bath? Soak your sore muscles in a soothing bath. Add epsom salt and essential oils for extreme relaxation.
9 - Clean or organize your house
Organizing those stacks of papers on your desk and finding ways to clear off your countertop clutter can make a big difference in your stress levels.
Take some time to clean and organize your home and be productive with your self-care times. And if you need a little help with your digital clutter (you know, the thousands of emails in your inbox and overflowing digital photos) my friend Kath can help you get everything in order. Click here to see everything included in here course, Digital Clutter.
10 - Go to your local coffee shop and just sit.
Sitting in silence is something that just doesn't happen very often (if ever) when you become a mom. So go to your favorite coffee shop, order a drink, and just sit. In silence. Drop the kids off for some time with grandma, or exchange kid-sitting time with a friend.
11 - Hire a maid
I haven’t personally tried this one. But if the day-to-day cleaning is stressing you out, consider hiring a cleaning crew to come once a month to do the deep cleans. If you are able to take one thing off your plate so you can have time to reflect, de-stress, and focus on what’s important, isn't it worth a couple hundred dollars a month?
12 - Listen to an inspirational & encouraging podcast
I've found that listening to an uplifting or inspirational podcast while I cook dinner, do laundry, or run errands really boosts my mood. Here are a few podcasts that I've been enjoying lately.
- Happiness Project - Laurie Santos
- The Next Right Thing - Emily P Freeman
- Dream Big Podcast - Bob Goff and Friends
Self Care Ideas for moms- Emotional & Social Health
The next piece of the self-care puzzle is your social life. In order to thrive as a mom, you've got to feel emotionally supported, and find people to surround yourself with who help you become the best version of yourself.
1 - Plan a coffee date with a friend
Usually coffee dates don't happen as often as we'd like in motherhood (at least, that's been my experience). But they won't ever happen if you never put a plan into action. So, here's a challenge for you today...text a couple of your close friends and get some coffee dates the calendar this quarter.
2 - Pick up the phone and call a friend
I know texting is easier, but why now just pick up the phone and call a friend to catch up. Take some time to laugh and have fun catching up about their family, work, etc. It doesn't have to take hours, just a few minutes here and there will help you feel connected.
3 - Write a letter to a friend
Another way to de-stress and relax is to write a letter. Whether you write an email or a pen & paper snail mail letter, writing a letter is a great way to stay connected to your friends.
4 - Take a class at the local community college
Do you love learning new things? Are you curious about gardening, welding, or bread baking? If you look through the adult education listings at a local community college, you'll likely find a few topics that you'd be interested in learning more about. Sign up for one, step out of your comfort zone and give it a try. You'll be surrounded with people who are interested in topic you are - sounds like a great place to find a friend, right?
5 - Join a club
Another great option for meeting your emotional and social needs is to join a club. Look on meetup.com for local meetups that you'd be interested in. I've seen running groups, gardening groups, clubs for reading, writing, and knitting. Bring a friend and get to know other like-minded folks in your neighborhood.
6 - Volunteer at a local charity
Nothing forges a bond between people quite as fast as working towards a common goal. You can volunteer at your church, or a local charity. Believe it or not, taking a little bit of time to put others first can really help give perspective and is nourishing to the soul.
7 - Reach out to your neighbors
If you're looking for people to connect with...why not start with the people you share a property line with? Instead of just waving as you drive by them on your way home, take a few minutes to get to know them.
Fight the urge to keep to yourself, and find a small way to connect. This can really improve your outlook and possibly even start a new friendship.
Self Care Ideas for moms - Physical Health & Fitness
Physical health is an important pillar of self-care. You may not think of physical health (or fitness) as self-care, but it certainly is.
1 - Go for a walk in nature
I read once that when you take a walk in the woods, it's actually better for you than if you just walk around the block. It was something about the oxygen in the air being a higher concentration in the woods. So go for it. Take some time in nature and breathe deeply while you're out there.
2 - Take a yoga class (online or in person)
If you're looking for yoga classes, you don't have to look any farther than You Tube. Or if you'd rather do it in person, ask around for a local yoga studio.
3 - Take some time to stretch
I did these neck and shoulder stretches when a bad headache kicked in (probably from my bad posture or looking down at my computer too much). They loosened my neck and shoulder muscles enough for the headache to completely go away! Get FREE access to the video I used here from Jen (she's awesome).
4 - Spend some time in a sauna
Did you know that sweating is actually really good for you? Yep. Sweating removes toxins from your body. So take an extra twenty minutes at the gym and sit in the sauna. Don't have time for a gym? Find a couple square feet in your house that's free and put one of these saunas in.
5 - Make time for exercise
Whether you choose to exercise using free You Tube videos in your living room at nap time, or you pay for a gym membership, it really doesn't matter. My exercise of choice is running up and down our driveway (it's really long), along with strength training exercises in our living room
I encourage you to find something that works for you. It doesn't have to be an hour long every day. But it needs to happen. One component of self care is caring for your physical body through exercise.
Here are two different fitness people I've enjoyed on YouTube:
What do you put in a self care package?
Do you have a friend who you think could use a little more self care in their life? What better way to help them, than to send a self care package? A package like this would be a really great self care gift for new moms, too.
Related: Best Gift Ideas For Overwhelmed Moms
When you make up a self care package, follow this simple formula to figure out what to include something...
- Something cozy to wear (like these cozy slippers, a super soft spa robe, or these Dr. Scholls soothing cozy socks)
- Something yummy to eat (dark chocolate, fresh fruit, etc.)
- Something relaxing to do (a movie, a book, a puzzle, etc.)
- Something that smells good (candle, your favorite essential oils, soap, etc.).
So...How do you do self care, mama?
The times in my life when I’ve been way too burnt out are the times when I’ve neglected to take time for self-care. That's why I think it's essential to work in daily habits that help you be intentional about taking care of yourself. Self care not only helps you feel confident and empowered as a mom, but it shows your kids what it looks like to take care of themselves in the best way possible.
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