Fitting in a self-care routine for stay-at-home moms may sound easy to do with all the time spent at home…
But trying to find the time and space to do it in is where the challenge lies. Stay at home moms very rarely have any time throughout the day where their kids are not following them around or in need of something. Even nap time presents moms with the decision of either getting caught up on work or taking time for themselves.
Developing a self-care routine is so important for stay at home moms. It’s a way to stay positive and energized throughout the day. Taking care of ourselves should be as much of a priority as taking care of the children, the household, or the finances. It may take some time to figure out how to create a self-care routine that works for you.
Here are some tips on building the essential self-care routine for stay at home moms.
(Plus – download a free workbook to help you put these tips into action!)
Eliminate the Guilt
Feeling guilty about taking care of yourself is normal for stay at home moms. We are inclined to put others first and take care of their needs, pushing our own to the bottom of the list. We keep thinking that we’ll start our self-care routine once everyone and everything else is taken care of. But no matter how much we do in a day, there is always something else that needs to be done. We need to make ourselves a priority. It can be hard to feel worthy enough, especially for moms battling postpartum depression.
The best way to avoid feeling guilty about time for yourself is to think of it as something that we are also doing for our loved ones.
- Following a daily self-care routine means that we will be happier and healthier.
- We will be more pleasant to be around, more present in the moment and less inclined to be frustrated and moody at the end of the day.
- We are setting excellent examples for our children by taking care of and respecting ourselves.
In order to eliminate the guilt associated with self-care, you need to answer Why, Who and What:
WHY do you need a regular self-care routine? Are your mood swings out of control? Do you feel exhausted and overwhelmed all the time? Is there a health concern you want to focus on?
WHO you are doing this for? In addition to yourself, what else is important in your life? Do you want to set a good example for your children? Do you want to be a better partner in your relationship? Is your work or family life suffering?
WHAT is your ultimate goal? Do you want to be happier? Healthier? Have more energy? Are you struggling with postpartum depression or anxiety? Are you trying to wean off of medications that you’re taking?
Timing is Everything
Finding the time to fit in a self-care routine is probably the biggest obstacle for a stay at home mom. Usually we are surrounded by children from the time we get up in the morning until they go to bed, at which time we are too exhausted to do anything else. There are a few moments throughout the day when a stay at home mom could choose to fit in her self-care.
The first step is identifying the changes in your mood throughout the day. Try keeping track of your moods on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to see how and when they fluctuate. Often, the winter months can be worse for our moods, especially if you suffer from seasonal affective disorder. To make it easier, you can download a printable mood tracker from Shine Sheets.
Early in the morning
If you’re a morning person, this could work for you. Getting up early before everyone else is up and taking a nice, hot shower in peace sounds amazing. Drinking an entire cup of coffee and eating a warm breakfast while watching the sun rise is a great way to start the day.
Not so early in the morning
But if you’re not a morning person, then the idea of sacrificing those last few moments of sleep are a crime against humanity. There’s nothing wrong with fitting in that shower and coffee when you get up in the morning, it just means that your children will probably also be awake and ready to start their day at the same time. Try holding them off by offering them a small snack, a sippy cup of milk and a half-hour show to buy you some time.
Make it a point to eat lunch together. Don’t feed the kids and expect to grab something later because later may never come. Eat when the kids eat and make yourself something healthy, don’t just pick at their leftovers.
If this is still a thing at your house, then congratulations! It hasn’t existed at my house for three years and I miss it so much. Nap time is the perfect time for fitting in a self-care routine. Don’t do the dishes or laundry or mop the floors… Rest.
Binge watch Netflix or read a few chapters in that book that’s been collecting dust on your nightstand. Don’t think of it as “being lazy.” Escaping into an imaginary world, whether it’s through the pages of a book or the television, is a way to relax your brain for a little while. You need to shut that thing off sometimes otherwise it overheats and doesn’t work as well.
When your shift is over
If your day has been an overly exhausting one, there’s no harm in asking for help. Calling in reinforcements just so you can have some time to yourself is not being selfish. It’s something that is essential to your well being and mental health. If there is a time when your spouse is home to watch the kids, of if you have family or a friend who can watch the kids for an hour – then take it!
Once the kids are in bed, if you’re like me, you have no energy left for self-care. (Is sleep training stressing you out? Check out this post.) But you’d be surprised how easy it is to fit it in. A hot shower before bed will help you sleep better. Turning on an essential oil diffuser in your bedroom as you go to sleep will help to calm your mind and relax you after a long day. A few simple yoga stretches or some guided meditation are perfect to incorporate in your self-care routine at bedtime.
Figure Out What Works
Your self-care routine should consist of things that specifically work for you. Sure, yoga is great but if it’s not your thing, then forcing yourself to do it isn’t going to help you relax. Unfortunately, there is no one-size fits all self-care routine, so this is something you’re going to have to figure out for yourself.
Categorize Your Favorite Activities
Things that make you feel energized should be scheduled for the beginning of your day. Maybe it’s going for a walk or a run, listening to your favorite music or podcast, or taking a refreshing shower.
Save the things that make you feel relaxed for your evening self-care routine. Maybe you prefer a hot shower or bath before bed. Or having a warm cup of tea and watching the sunset. Guided meditation is another great way to calm the mind before bed.
List off all the things that make you feel happy and try to include them throughout your day. These could be things such as cooking or baking, gardening, crafting, chatting with a friend or anything else that you love to do.
Consider things you do for yourself all year round. Do you need a monthly trip to the salon? Or a spa day each year on your birthday? If summer is around the corner, schedule yourself a pedicure. Cold weather coming? Prepare for a round of the winter blues. Don’t put off these important tasks, schedule them today!
Make a Bucket List
Taking care of yourself doesn’t have to be tedious and boring. While it’s good to have a regular routine in place, there are sure to be things that you could only dream of doing.
Make a list of things that you would love to be able to do for yourself SOMEDAY. And dream big… It could be something like taking a vacation somewhere you’ve always wanted to go, meeting a celebrity you idolize or attending the concert of your favorite artist. It’s alright if some things on your self-care bucket list are unrealistic, but having them written down will keep you motivated and inspired to live your best life.
Thinking about a self-care routine is a great first step. But writing it down and scheduling it makes it real and harder to avoid. Schedule in your self-care on the calendar or set a reminder in your phone. Your self-care appointments should be handled with just as much importance as medical appointments, meetings or sports practices. Adding it to a calendar lets everyone else know that you plan to make yourself a priority too.
If for some reason, you didn’t get a chance to fit in your self-care, don’t ignore it. Re-schedule it for another time. If you are strict about keeping up with your self-care routine, then the rest of your family will follow suit.
Try signing up for a monthly self-care subscription box.
Having a box delivered to your door is like a regular reminder to take care of yourself. Plus, the anticipation of getting a box full of goodies is something to look forward to each month and can get you excited about self-care.
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Download this FREE Self-Care Workbook to help you create a working self-care routine.
Once you’ve incorporated a regular self-care routine into your life, you should be able to see the difference it makes. Over time, taking a few minutes each day to do something just for you won’t seem so foreign, both to yourself and to your children. They will learn that mom’s going to take that shower and then she will feel happier.
Mothers with postpartum depression or anxiety should especially focus on maintaining a proper self-care routine. It’s a great way to keep symptoms under control, regardless of what other form of treatment we are seeking. While it might seem impossible to make lists of things that bring joy, mothers with postpartum depression can focus on small things and work their way up.