With our limited time and energy, we’re trying to make sure our little humans survive and thrive. We’re earnestly trying to meet the standards we set for ourselves, and that we take on from the world around us. Standards that are often unrealistic and overwhelming. We’re dealing with a sea of (often contradictory) information, to guide us. Our minds never stop thinking, planning, reflecting, wondering, worrying, and dealing with life.
Before we know it, looking after ourselves is at the bottom of our to-do list. In fact, we might not even have made it onto the list at all.
This isn’t a sustainable way to live your life.
Self-care that works for you
You know what?
There really is space in your life for you. Even if it doesn’t feel that way.
If you’re thinking that you could never find the time (and organise the logistics) to go and have a massage, long bath or night out with the girls, then I’ve got great news for you.
Self-care doesn’t have to be so time consuming or even involve those things (thank goodness, because I really don’t like long baths!)
By finding just a few minutes in your day, you can start practising self-care. Even with your children around.
And the rewards?
With regular self-care, you’ll be able to be more present with your family, think more clearly, feel better, feel happier and be more patient and tolerant. And you’ll be able to keep on going, without collapsing in an exhausted heap (as often!)
The best self-care practices are the ones that are meaningful to you.
Don’t be limited by the stereotypical suggestions. Self-care can involve anything that nourishes your mind, your body, your emotions and spirit, your connections with others or that helps make your life easier to manage.
Of course, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel, if you don’t want to! Let me save you a little time.
25 quick and simple self-care ideas
Here are 25 self-care practices that you can do in just 15 mins or less.
1. Go outside – feel the grass beneath your feet, sit in the sun, look at the flowers or listen to the birds. Nature is calming and grounding. And the kids can absolutely join in!
2. Dance – no dance classes required, just follow your kids’ lead.
3. Listen to your favourite song(s) – maybe you could even sing along!
4. Do your makeup – even if it’s just the bare essentials, it can make a difference to how you feel.
5. Go for a walk
6. Get dressed properly – lay your outfit out the night before to save even more time. Wear something that makes you feel good about yourself. That might mean just adding some accessories you love to your normal outfit.
7. Make a healthy and delicious smoothie, for both you and your kids, to nourish your bodies
8. Write in your journal or keep a gratitude journal
9. Meditate or pray
10. Mindful breathing – here’s a great explanation of how to do this: http://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/mindful_breathing
11. Do nothing, just be still and allow your body to be idle and your mind to wander
12. Read – anything at all. A book, magazine, or listen to an audio book. I used to wait until I had at least 30 minutes to read until I opened my book. But I realised that I rarely, if ever, had that much time spare. So instead I aim to read for just 5 minutes. If I get interrupted before the time is up, then I just stop. But sometimes I’m lucky and 5 minutes turns into 10 or 20 mins.
13. Tidy up – honestly, this one makes me feel so much calmer. I especially love doing a 10 min tidy up of the house just before I go to bed because I know that when I wake up to a tidy house, I will feel much calmer. You could also tidy or organise that spot that’s been bugging you for months – seriously satisfying!
14. Put your favourite essential oils in a diffuser
15. Buy a beautiful body wash or moisturiser and use it in your normal routine
16. Have a hot cup of tea – cup of tea fixes everything in my world! Even better if it’s made in a beautiful teapot, cup or mug.
18. Ask for help
19. Say no (this one only takes a second!)
20. Do some exercise – squats, lunges, bicep or tricep curls with household objects (like tins or bottles of wine!) or make a game of lifting or chasing your child!
21. Use an affirmation that is important to you
22. Have a healthy snack – we so often forget to eat when we’re busy or don’t make ourselves the same quality of food as we make for our kids. Nourish your body and set a good example of healthy eating habits.
23. Pack your bag for the next day and don’t just include things for the kids, but include some water and a snack for you and anything else that would make you feel good.
24. Colour in or do a puzzle – you can do this with the kids or set them up with their own book.
25. Connect with someone – call a friend or your partner for a quick catch up. I always feel better when I hear the voice of the people I love.
Take your pick! Or find something else that makes you feel happy and calmer. Just invest a few minutes a day into YOU and you’ll see a ripple effect of benefits for you and your family.
Start with 5 minutes a day, if that’s all you can manage right now.
Even the smallest changes can add up to a big difference.
I think you’re worth it, lovely mum. And your family thinks so too.
P.S. If you’re struggling with guilt over dedicating time to yourself, check out my popular article on why we experience mum guilt and how to deal with it. https://www.moretomum.com.au/2017/08/29/mum-guilt-revealing-standards-impose/
Louise East is a wife, mum of a toddler and step mum of 3 young adults. She is also the founder of More to Mum, a place where you can find heartfelt inspiration, advice and support with mindset, self-care and the practical things in life.
After a satisfying career coaching, mentoring, leading and teaching adults in the corporate world, she is now committed to helping mums of small children, believe that they are enough, feel confident in themselves and their choices, and look after themselves well, so they can give their best to their families.
Check out Louise and More to Mum