Self-care is such an important part of being a well-rounded, happy person. Yet it’s often one of the last things busy moms do.
Prioritizing self-care is difficult when you have a family to take care of, a home to clean, groceries to buy, laundry to do…. But if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be the mom that your family needs.
How to Prioritize Self-Care
If you’re struggling to make self-care a priority, start by prioritizing your health, reward yourself, and focus on the things you love with these tips.
1. Prioritize your health
Prioritizing self-care is a delicate balance. In fact, knowing where to start with your self-care plan is the first step.
Before you do anything else, start by taking care of your health.
If you don’t take care of yourself, no one else will. But that’s a difficult concept to grasp when you’re knee-deep in spit up, dirty diapers, and sticky toddler fingers.
However, I’ve learned the hard way that if I don’t take care of myself, I’m unable to take care of my family. After years (yes, years) of getting sick every time the kids sniffled, I finally understood the value of prioritizing my health.
By focusing on sleep, drinking enough water, exercising, taking vitamins, and having a daily unwind time, you’ll be on your way to a healthier lifestyle.
Am I the only person who feels like I’m losing my mind when I’m sleep deprived?
When I was working, one of my co-workers pulled me aside and asked how I was doing because I was “a shell of the person” I once was. True story.
Parenthood isn’t easy, but decent sleep can make it so much more enjoyable. The catch is that decent sleep doesn’t come easily when you’re a parent, especially a parent to babies or toddlers.
Realizing that you need sleep is the first step.
The second (and most difficult) step is actually going to bed early enough to give yourself a fighting chance.
Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to go to bed (it seems silly, but it’s the only thing that’s worked for me). Then actually go to bed.
It might take some time for you to get used to a new, earlier bedtime, but it’ll be worth it in the end. Also, you’ll have more energy during the day, so you’ll be more productive.
Water has been recommended for everything from weight loss to wrinkle reduction. But drinking more water can be difficult.
My doctor recommended that I drink eight ounces of water for each hour that I’m awake, which seemed really impossible at the time. Once my body got used to it (i.e., I wasn’t spending the entire day in the bathroom), I found that I naturally craved water. Even so, remembering to drink water when you get busy (or even remembering how much you’ve already drank) isn’t easy.
Using a larger glass and tracking your water intake can help you to make sure that you’re drinking enough. I’ve tracked my daily water intake in my FitBit app on my phone, in my planner, and even by using a marker on my glass. I use a large stainless steel mug to track my water when I’m home or a plastic Contigo bottle when I’m on the run.
Adding flavor to your water is another easy way to trick yourself into drinking more. Try adding peppermint, Citrus Fresh, or Slique oil to your water for a fun pick-me-up. Just make sure to drink your water in a glass or stainless steel mug if you add essential oil (especially citrus oils).
Exercise will not only give you physical benefits (a slimmer, more toned body), but it also has far-reaching mental benefits, too.
On the days that you exercise, pay attention to your energy levels. I always notice that I’m much more productive. I’m also in a better mood, and I sleep better. 😉
In addition to keeping you healthier, vitamins and supplements can give you more energy and make you feel better in general.
However, make sure that you’re taking the right vitamins or supplements for your body. For example, I’ve noticed that prenatal vitamins give me more energy and keep me healthier than regular multivitamins. I’ve also noticed that “ninja juice” helps me fight illnesses when my kids are sick, and my mom swears that vitamin B12 gives her more energy.
If you’re feeling sluggish or if you’ve been getting sick more often, research which vitamins might be best for you.
Daily “unwind” time
Especially if you’re in a “go go go” stage of life, having a bit of time to unwind (or mentally prepare for the day) is essential.
Daily unwind time could be reading a book or journaling at the end of the day, but it could also mean listening to an audiobook as you commute home from work (or wait in the car for soccer practice to end). It’s also a great practice to start your day with quiet time to mentally prepare for the day.
When I was working outside the home, I made time both in the morning (I spent a few extra minutes in the shower), and before bed to unwind and relax. It seems silly to unwind at the beginning of the day, but it helped me focus and prepare for the day.
Regardless of when you choose to unwind, taking just a few minutes to let your mind rest will have such a great impact on your day (and your mood).
2. Reward yourself
I’ve been using treats to reward myself after reaching a goal, but it’s also a great idea to sprinkle in treats throughout your week. Don’t give in to the “mommy guilt” that the kids come first and you only get the leftovers. If you budget properly, don’t feel guilty for having an occasional treat.
Not only should treats be used as a reward, but think of them as inspiration, like using coffee to motivate you to get out of bed….
Treats don’t have to be expensive, and there are lots of ways to incorporate treats into your budget (and your daily life).
3. Spend time doing things you love
Ask yourself “what is saving my life right now?”
If you’re not sure what’s keeping you from losing your mind, or if you don’t think you can possibly make time for it, think again. Even just spending a few minutes each day on something nice – just for yourself – can have huge benefits.
I love reading, but I could never seem to make time to read other than vacations. For the past few years, I looked forward to my family’s annual vacation as my “reading time,” and I would download ten+ books on my Kindle in hopes that I would get the chance to read. Unfortunately, I was lucky to finish three books, which just wasn’t enough.
After reading The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You, I finally realized that I wasn’t using my time the way that I should be. Instead of “wasting time” standing in line at the grocery store, brushing my teeth, or even drying my hair, I could be using those pockets of time to read!
In addition to using small pockets of time, make sure to prioritize larger amounts of time to do the things that you love.
Making your health a priority, rewarding yourself, and focusing on the things you love, whether you can only spare a few minutes or thirty every day, will help you so much. Instead of feeling like you’re drowning in “life,” you just might start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. 😉