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Self-Care for Moms

Before becoming a Mom, self-care for me meant locking myself in my room to play a couple of days worth of Sims or to watch a Harry Potter marathon or to lie on the floor in the pitch dark while listening to music with headphones.

But when I became a Mom, it was nearly impossible to get any time to myself – especially long periods of time. For a good majority of my first year of motherhood, I was a grumpy mess from never getting the opportunity to just be with me for a moment – I couldn’t even shower without needing to rush or stop early due to Charlotte needing something.

People would tell me that I need to sleep when baby sleeps or have me time when baby is with her Daddy, but these weren’t even an option for me. Charlotte would only nap for a maximum of twenty minutes and she was glued to my side when she was awake – or more like my breast. I was a walking milk machine who had absolutely no bodily autonomy. She wouldn’t even go to her Dad as she only found comfort with me.

When Charlotte was a newborn, I was okay with not having any me time. But as she reached five, six, and seven months and was still not gaining any independence, it became harder to deal with not getting any alone time.

Eventually, this lack of me time really took a toll on my mental health and well-being. Without any time to relax and recharge, I slowly lost myself and started to feel drained and lonely. There were so many things weighing on me that I felt like I had no control over and no exit out of – financial issues, keeping up with the never ending house chores, a forever building to-do list, and an adorable baby who literally couldn’t function without either being held or played with.

Trying to do any sort of self-care in those moments of stress felt like actual torture. I couldn’t even allow myself to relax. I had piled so much pressure onto myself, my mental bubble was as thick as glass but ready to shatter at any given moment. Tim couldn’t even help when he tried.

And on one December evening, I had my moment.

I was driving to pick up Tim from work and out of nowhere, I just started bawling. It was uncontrollable. unexpected, and a little embarrassing. It was at that moment that I realized I needed to change my habits and start taking care of my well-being just as much as my daughter’s. That night, I talked to Tim about all of the things that were stressing me out. Together, we came up with solutions that fit our family. One of which was finding out a way to fit in some self-care for ourselves each day.

It’s accepted for Mom’s to lose themselves within their child’s first year, but I don’t think it should be viewed as normal. It is so important for Mom’s (and Dad’s!!) to practice self-care. When you take care of yourself and your well-being, you will naturally find yourself being more patient, loving, and joyful. This makes it way easier to take care of another one’s well-being!

It so incredibly healthy and beneficial for your kids to see that you have your own likes, dreams and desires. If you model self-care to your kids, they will learn that their wants and needs are important too.

– Paper Heart Family

Let’s be real though, finding the time to practice self-care is HARD. When you have non-sleeping babies or are managing kids with busy schedules, there’s little time for you. That doesn’t mean you should be throwing it to the bottom of your priority list though. The biggest myth about practicing self-care is that it needs to last hours long to be effective, but it doesn’t! Doing 15 minutes worth of an activity that makes you feel joy can go a long way for your well-being.

With that, here is a list of quick and easy self-care activities I have started to incorporate into my life to improve my own mental health. I usually try to do one per day, but you should pick whatever works best for you and your family!

1. Journal (Not Necessarily with Paper and Pen)

The idea of journaling use to stress me out – how am I suppose to write my thoughts when my thoughts are flying and my hand can’t keep up? Especially in the little allotted time that I had to myself! So I started out differently: Instead of writing down my thoughts, I would record my thoughts. This let me multitask! I could record my thoughts aloud while I was doing dishes or running an errand.

I now do a combination: I write when I have the time to write or record when I don’t. They both provide their own unique advantages. Recording myself allows me to ramble out my thoughts, whereas writing forces me to focus on one thought and think it out.

2. Have a Bedtime Routing

I’m someone who tends to avoid a personal routine because I don’t like feeling as if I am living the same day over and over. However, having a bedtime routine has really benefited me. A routine provides a set time to de-stress and relax. Ultimately, I’ve noticed that by having a bedtime routine, I am getting a higher quality of sleep at night.

My bedtime routine involves a quick tidying, a skin and teeth care routine, and then reading a book. The time I go to bed changes each night depending on when Charlotte fell asleep and how tired I am, but I keep my routine pretty consistent.

3. Self-Date

When I was in university, one of my roommates used to go to the mall alone constantly. She said she preferred it – that way she could go at her own pace, go only into stores she wanted, and try on clothes when she felt like it. When I heard that, I think I looked at her like she had four heads. At that point, I’ve never gone anywhere by myself besides work and maybe a grocery store once!

Now as a Mom, it’s inevitable to need to go out alone sometimes to run quick oops-we-forgot-to-do-this-and-now-Charlotte-is-asleep-and-we-can’t-both-go errand. Surpringly, I’ve actually found it super enjoyable. I like to stop at coffee shops to get a hot chocolate or baked good on my way just for the extra sense of independence.

4. Make a Happy Playlist and Listening to It

Listening to a playlist during the day is a must for me, especially when I have lots to do. On the bright side, Charlotte really enjoys the music too! She often stands in front of our TV with music videos playing on YouTube, and dances to them!

The best part about playing music that specifically makes you happy is that you don’t need to actively be doing anything for your mood to still be lifted. I like to do housework and even though housework sucks sometimes, having music playing makes it enjoyable!

5. Sign up for a Weekly Class

I did this with my Mom and sister-in-law and really enjoyed the weekly outings. We signed up for a meditation class and while I found the classes themselves awkward, it was nice having something set to do each week.

Knowing I was going to be having adult conversations every Wednesday gave me something to look forward to. I love my kid, but sometimes I need more of a reply than “Mama”!

6. Make Time To Read

I absolutely love reading, and in order to make the time to read I’ve changed a couple of different things in my daily life. The first one is having a bedtime routine that includes reading for ten minutes to an hour. The second one is reading aloud while my daughter plays. She seems to highly enjoy this – sometimes she comes to listen and sometimes she plays with her toys! Easy multitasking paired along with self-care.

The third, and probably the easiest, is using my local library app to rent audio books. If your local library does not offer this, there are plenty of free audio books on YouTube! If you want more of a selection, Audible and Kobo are two great subscription programs for audio books.

7. Organize

I know this one isn’t for everyone, but you may be surprised at just how relaxing organizing can be. There’s something about getting your materials in order that makes you feel like your life is in order. I love finding new ways to organize my stuff and to re-organize my old stuff. For me, I try to organize or re-organize at least once a week. This self-care method does tend to require more time, but pair it with listening to your happy playlist and you’ve got yourself a good afternoon!

8. Go for Daily Walks

One thing I have tried to incorporate into my daily routine is going for a walk around the block with Charlotte. Soaking up all that vitamin D makes you feel so good and happy and relaxed. Charlotte especially loves it! Even if we just do a 10 minute walk, it is huge for uplifting both of our moods.

9. Listen to a Podcast

I never thought I would enjoy listening to podcast until one of my favourite YouTubers created one. It has become a weekly routine for me to shut myself in my bedroom every Sunday evening to listen to the new episode. Since listening to his, I have found more and more Podcast to list to that have improved my life. Regularly listening to a podcast can get you inspired, keep you updated with the world, help with personal growth, or just provide a nice source of entertainment. Podcast put education and entertainment right in your ear.

The average podcast is an hour long so by itself it would not be considered a “quick self-care” method. However, you can easily listen to them while you do something else – or nothing at all! You can also pause and come back as many times as you need without missing out.

10. Focus on Gratitude

Instead of fawning over all the things I don’t have, which usually leads to disappointment, I try to focus on being grateful for what I already have. It’s not always the easiest, but I do find the struggle worth it in the long term.

When you focus on the good in your life, you tend to be happier, healthier, and often have a deeper sense of fulfillment. Practicing gratitude helps you cope with stress, develop stronger relationships, helps you feel more confident and secure, and overall increases your happiness.

11. Reach Out to Friends

A lot of moms tend to view their entire identity as just that – being a mom. It is great to enjoy motherhood, but putting your entire identity into it can be a slippery slop. Many moms who do tend to lose themselves and any friends and hobbies they had in the process. Motherhood can be quite isolating and lonely at times. Having a close-knit group of friends you can reach out to will always be helpful. Just because you’re a mom now doesn’t mean you have to quit all your old hobbies. Go ahead and get a babysitter so you can go to the amusement park or to get your nails done.

12. Go to Bed When My Daughter Goes To Bed

I’ll admit, going to bed at 7pm is something that I only do on occasion – probably once a week. However, I do try to always be aware of when I need to go to sleep earlier than my own bedtime. For me, that’s a huge improvement. Acknowledging you’re tired and going to bed is a form of self-care. You will definitely thank yourself for doing so in the morning. Even when I wake up knowing I didn’t complete all the things I wanted to the day before, I feel okay with that knowing that I am better versed to do them with a goodnights sleep.

13. Eat Proper Meals During the Day

One thing I am really bad at is eating consistently and properly. I am so bad for just forgetting meal times and only realizing when I am starving later and too impatient to actually make a meal – so I eat a poptart or a bowl of cereal. This is fine every once in a while, but doing this regularly and for nearly every meal has led to me having low energy. I always make sure Charlotte eats a proper meal but don’t do the same self-care for myself.

So I now make sure I eat at the same time each day in order to avoid that “so hungry I need something this very moment” feeling. Tim and I have also started meal planning for our dinners; this way we always have a proper meal to sit down to in the evenings.

14. Schedule the Time for Self-Care

I saved this method of self-care as a best for last because actually sitting down and scheduling time for self-care is probably the most important thing you can do to make sure you get some quality time with yourself. It can be difficult to find and make the time for yourself when you have housework to do, a husband to see, and children to take care of, but it is crucial to do it anyways to avoid burnout. As a Mom, you naturally want to take care of everyone and everything else before yourself, but taking care of yourself will make it easier to take care of your other responsibilites.

Back in December, Tim and I sat down and discussed a way to make sure I get time for myself without our to-do list falling behind. (Don’t get me wrong, Tim does a lot around the house to keep it clean and orderly, but I am usually responsible to make sure the larger to-do list items get done such as figuring out our monthly budget, making any appointments needed, creating meal plans and grocery list, etc.) I don’t mind doing the majority of our to-do list considering I am the one who is home full-time, but it got to a point where I felt like my entire life fell around our to-do list and I couldn’t do anything for myself until our list was completed – which is essentially impossible as it’s a ongoing list.

We came up with the idea for Tim to wake up with Charlotte in the morning and take care of and entertain her while he gets ready for work, allowing me one full hour to do whatever I want for myself. It involves him having to wake up anywhere from a half-hour to an hour earlier than he would otherwise, but I’ve definitely appreciated the set time to do whatever I wanted with no worries of being called or cried for.

Taking care of yourself doesn’t mean me first, it means me too.

– L.R.Knost

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