Sustainable Self-Care Practices for Moms

“Self-care” is the new hot topic in motherhood it seems.  Everyone knows they need some, but nobody knows how to make it a regular part of daily life — especially when there are little ones running around whose needs seem so much bigger than your own.  I certainly am no expert in self-care, but I recently discovered something that makes it much easier for moms to achieve in a sustainable way — something that I can do all throughout the week, not just on one special night out for “me time.”  I’ll be giving it away at the end of this post, but I’d also like to share some other tips I’ve come up with for creating space in your daily life for self-care to help you be the best person you can be.

Have you heard about the “mental load” that mothers carry?  It’s heavy, friends, and it never ends.  What’s a night out getting my nails done if I just have that much more work to do when I get home, or help doing the dishes if I had to ask my husband to do them in the first place?  It’s a real self-care downer.  I’ve discovered that (for me, at least), I can’t relax and invest in some self-care unless it is through activities that require my entire brain so there’s no room left to be planning what needs to be done next or worrying about how this kid’s really doing.  I’ve found it to be MOST beneficial when that mental activity is combined with some form of physical activity — just as Maria Montessori made the connection between movement and the brain for children, the same is true for adults.

Your actual self-care strategies will depend on your own personality and interests, but here are some things I’ve found erase the mental load (for the moment, at least) and really help me to feel healthier and more whole as a unique person — not just as somebody’s mom:

  •  Playing the piano — my brain cannot be thinking about what to put on the grocery list AND playing an instrument at the same time.  It just can’t be done.  My brain is too busy translating what’s on the page to what my fingers are doing on the keyboard — so it is an all-encompassing activity.
  • Reading while exercising — reading on the couch feels pretty great, too, but there’s nothing like that pump of endorphins while reading something that gives you joy and takes you completely out of your day-to-day life.  I’m not a fan of exercising, so I like to read while running on the elliptical — it takes my mind off the pain my body is experiencing.  I think it’s especially important as a homeschooling mom to read books for myself and not just for homeschool planning purposes!  I’m a big fan of fiction in a wide range of genres, but I also dip my toe into Brene Brown type books and some nonfiction that really challenges me.   Here are some of my favorites from the past year:

A Spark of Light: A Novel, by Jodi Picoult

Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, by James Loewen

An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones

Carry On, Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, by Glennon Doyle Melton

Lilac Girls: A Novel, by Martha Hall Kelly

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, by Robin DiAngelo

Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone, by Brene Brown

Yes Please, by Amy Poehler

The Other Einstein: A Novel, by Marie Benedict

The Shack, by William P. Young

  • Crafting — anything that uses your hands and is somewhat complicated is great for stopping that brain from overthinking what happened at the playground last week between your daughter and that other kid.  I am not a huge crafter, but I do enjoy dabbling here and there.  That’s why I love finding new products that give you a taste of different things so you can really find what you love!  My MOJO box came with a screen printing activity in June and I still enjoy using it to make cards and little decorative notes.  My sister sent my daughter a Paint by Sticker book, and Lila was kind enough to let me try one — so much fun!  I’ve also really enjoyed the Usborne magic painting books.

And, of course, there’s also the simple little things that you have probably forgotten you need as a mother — food, water, and fresh air.

Here’s a secret I think some moms aren’t aware of — you can buy special food just for you, that you don’t have to share with your kids.  You DON’T have to let your kids eat food from your plate — especially when they have a perfectly good meal right in front of them.  It’s ok to say, “No, this is my food.  You can eat your food.”  Maybe you’ll let them have a bit of what they wanted from your plate the next day for lunch — but you don’t have to deny yourself just because your child says they want it now.

Do you get enough water throughout the day?  I’m guessing not — I didn’t until I started drinking sparkling water, easily accessible in a can (recyclable).  It’s cool and refreshing, and I can now confidently say that I get at least 64oz of water, the recommended amount each day.  And it’s remarkable what a difference being fully hydrated can make in your overall mood and well-being.

Fresh air!  This is the toughest for me — especially when the weather’s not “perfect.”  Yeah, I know — there’s all those happy people on Instagram who claim “there’s no bad weather there’s just inappropriate clothing,” but I don’t agree.  Sitting outside in a humid thunderstorm is not for me, and it doesn’t matter what I’m wearing.  But when the weather IS within my range of acceptability, there’s nothing like spending a couple hours on the patio watching the kids run around the backyard.

Speaking of that giveaway I mentioned earlier, have you seen Generation Mindful’s *new* MOJO (more joy) boxes for adults?!  This mindful living subscription for parents ticks all those boxes I noted above — it contains yoga and mindfulness exercises (mind and body, see?!), relaxation aids, and fun new activities for adults.  Each box also contains a small book for children that matches that month’s theme.

Generation Mindful has generously offered to send one of their MOJO boxes to one of you!  You can enter the giveaway at the link below, then get ready to celebrate you!

*Giveaway now closed!  Congrats to Michelle H.!