As a busy working mom, it can be a challenge to find the time and energy to practice self-care. When most of your day is spent trying to get vegetables into your toddler, trying to get a baby to nap, and hustling to ensure you meet that big deadline, your self-care regimen can take a hit.
If you feel like practicing self-care is too indulgent or if you just don’t think you can squeeze it into your overpacked day, this article is for you. Self-care is important — probably more so than you realize — and you can easily implement self-care practices into your routine without sacrificing in other areas.
What is self-care and why does it matter?
Self-care is simply taking some time to devote to you — your physical, mental, and emotional self — so that you have the energy and capacity to achieve the things you want to do, both personally and professionally. You’ve probably heard it before but I’ll say it again, “You can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself.” So, stop thinking of self-care as a luxury. It’s not. Think of it more as necessary maintenance.
If you go too long without changing the oil in your car, then your car’s performance begins to suffer and ultimately it can end in a breakdown. The same goes for you. If you don’t maintain your mental, physical, and emotional well-being, your health can deteriorate and you can suffer from burnout and break down.
For the benefit of you, your family, your work, and everything else that’s important in your life take some time to practice self-care. Treat self-care like an appointment that took months to get and schedule the time in your calendar.
8 easy ways to practice self-care as a work-from-home mom
Brush your teeth, wash your face, and change out of your pajamas
Work-from-home moms, I see you, I am one of you! I know how easy it is to just jump out of bed and go full tilt all day only to realize at 5 pm that you have yet to change your clothes or run a comb through your hair.
While having the option to stay in your pj’s all day is a benefit of working from home, it gets old. After a month or two of wearing nothing but yoga pants and jammies you may start to feel like a slob … or at least I did. So, give yourself 5 or 10 minutes in the morning to make yourself feel like a functioning human. You don’t have to do a full face of make-up but don’t feel guilty for taking a few minutes to refresh.
Admittedly, I struggle with this one. Before kids, I went for a run or worked out nearly every day and while I promised myself this wouldn’t change after having children, it did.
When I say exercise I just mean move. Get out and go for a 20-minute walk over lunch. Do a 10-minute stretch, run up and down your stairs 20 times — do whatever you need to do to get your blood pumping. Exercise improves everything from your physical well-being to your mood. Exercise is an investment in your immediate and long-term physical and mental health.
Make yourself a healthy and delicious meal
As a work-from-home mom, you’re able to cook yourself lunch in your own kitchen — but that doesn’t mean you will. In my experience, when it comes to taking the time to make a nutritious meal I usually choose to grab something easy (and not super healthy) and work while I eat. Or, if my kids are home, I stand over the stove eating their lunchtime leftovers.
Taking a bit of time to cook a healthy meal and then sitting down to eat will leave you feeling nourished, energized, and ready to take on the rest of your day.
Nothing affects me more than a lack of sleep. When I’m super tired I lose focus, have a shorter temper with my kids, and my motivation to exercise and eat healthy evaporates. While a solid 8 hours of sleep might be out of the question (especially if you have young kids), it’s still important to find time to rest.
While Netflix is extremely tempting after a full day of work and kids, sometimes it’s worth skipping your favorite show to get a few extra hours of sleep — especially when you’re feeling sleep-deprived.
Go out on a date
This can be a date with your partner or a date with your best friends. The point is to get out of your house and relax with your favorite food, drink, and people. Catch up, have a laugh, and forget about your responsibilities … even if it’s just for a couple of hours.
Read a book
Do you remember a magical time when you could sit down with a book on a quiet Sunday afternoon and finish the entire thing uninterrupted? No, that wasn’t a dream, it was just life before kids!
You may not currently have the luxury of enjoying your favorite novel or nonfiction read in one sitting, but reading for a half-hour before bed can be a great way to unwind and turn off your mind … making it much easier to fall asleep.
Pick an activity that makes you feel great and schedule it for once a month. It doesn’t have to be something big or expensive (though it can be if that works into your calendar and budget), it just has to be something that makes you feel happy. Whether it’s getting a manicure, going to hot yoga, or taking a pottery class — schedule some time for you.
Plan a trip (sans babies)
Whether this is a mom’s trip with your friends or a romantic getaway with your partner, plan a trip that allows you to get away from your work, your house, and all of your responsibilities. You don’t have to travel to an expensive or far-away destination but you should remove yourself from your normal daily grind.
A few days away will give you a chance to just relax, have fun, and clear your head. You can return home feeling calm and motivated to take on everything that your work and kids can throw at you!
Go to a conference or take a course
While relaxing the mind is important, feeding the mind with information that stimulates you and helps you to achieve your personal and professional goals is equally important. At least once a year find an opportunity to expand your mind and learn something new.
If you want to keep costs down, you can look into attending a local conference or signing up for an online course. This is self-care for your mind and, in my experience, it’s always worth the investment.
Just do what you can
While it’s one thing to write a list of self-care items, it’s another to implement them. I know as a mom who is working from home and has young kids, it feels like there are never enough hours in the day. Sometimes it truly is a choice between showering or finishing a work obligation and some months a date night just won’t happen.
Don’t feel bad if you can’t implement every one of these self-care items, that’s not the goal. Pick one or two easy ones and work them into your schedule. See how you feel after you do them and then do a few more. The idea of self-care is to give yourself the time you need to be your best, not to stress you out and add to your never-ending list of to-dos.
–By Jessica Martel