As a mother of three young children, as well as a wife, business owner and homeschool teacher, much of my life revolves around meeting the needs of others. As much as I aim to maintain a sense of peace and simplicity in our home, there is still always something that needs to be done at any given moment. At times, I forget to pay attention to my own needs. I neglect the little things that make me feel cared for and more human. I know that so many other women can relate to this. On the surface it may seem virtuous and selfless, but it simply isn't a sustainable life. Pouring into others constantly, without ever taking the time to fill our own cups, is a recipe for burnout. It’s impossible to keep going at that pace. Taking time to nurture yourself on a regular basis will make you a happier, more balanced person—more able to give to everything else in your life.
Here are some small ways you can pour into yourself—commit to making at least a couple of these happen in the near future, and watch what a difference it makes.
- Take yourself out on a coffee date.
Sometimes just spending an hour out in the world without children to corral and a diaper back slung onto my shoulder makes me feel so much more balanced. Schedule time to just be by yourself, and savor every moment of it. People watch, read a book, or invite a friend along for some conversation. It can be difficult to find the time, I know, but I know many moms who trade babysitting with one another in order to get that alone time every once in a while.
- Have a spa day at home.
Apply a mud mask, use a sugar scrub, shave your legs and pumice your feet. Let the conditioner sit in your hair a while. Use essential oils that promote relaxation. Paint your toenails. Pampering your physical self can work wonders to lift you up emotionally as well.
- Set aside an hour to get lost in a book.
(Or half an hour. Or five minutes.) Nearly every mom I know wishes she had more time to read. Make the time whenever you can, even if it’s in brief little stints. We converse with toddlers on a regular basis, so making some space in our brains for some intellectual stimulation (or just a really great story to escape into) can really help us feel well-rounded and remind us of the world outside of our everyday life.
- Enjoy your morning beverage of choice slowly and intentionally.
How often do we rush through the morning routine? Take it slower, savoring the comfort of a warm mug in your hands. Start your day by making yourself aware of all of your senses and thoroughly enjoy the simple pleasure of it. If it’s possible to get up even just slightly earlier than your kids and do this in complete silence, even better!
- Free-write for five minutes.
Just allow your thoughts to flow unhindered. It's amazing how light I usually feel after doing this. You don’t have to be “a writer” to benefit from journaling. I tend to have a million thoughts in my head all at once, and that can cause a lot of tension until I take the time to get them out on paper. It’s as if I released pressure through a valve, and suddenly I’m so much calmer and more focused.
- Drop everything and do five sun salutations.
Stretching and breathing deeply are like a reset for my body and mind every time. I may not always have time for a whole yoga practice, but just a minute or two helps tremendously and makes me feel more connected to my body. This can apply to movement other than yoga as well. Do some push-up and squats if that’s more your style, or some simply stretches- or put on some music and dance your heart out (and have the kids join you—mine love this!).
- Go for a walk.
A change in your surroundings, a dose of fresh air and sunlight, getting your blood flowing... All of this can make you feel so much more alive. Being outdoors always boosts my mood and changes my perspective, and walking is such an easy way to take care of myself.
- Make yourself something delicious and nourishing to eat.
What better way to care for yourself than in the way you fuel your body? Remember to eat, no matter how busy you are, and choose foods that are whole and healthy to make you feel your best. One of my favorite things to make lately when I need a boost is a green smoothie like this one from Megan Garcia (you can substitute ingredients with whatever you happen to have on hand). It’s so good knowing that I’m getting a good dose of veggies and nutrition in such delicious and quick-to-make package.
- Get caught up in something you enjoy.
Learn a new skill and make time to practice it. Spend time doing something you enjoy, and get lost in the process. Do it purely for the joy and because it's good for your soul. Learn macrame, play the piano, or take on a new language. As adults, especially as mothers, we all too often feel we must be practical in how we use our time- that all of our activities must be tied to our responsibilities and obligations. It's so good to do something simply because you want to—that is never a waste. I started taking pottery classes—something I’ve always wanted to learn—and I’m completely fallen in love with it. Putting the effort into getting better at something that’s challenging, and doing something creative that has nothing to do with my job, has been so good for me.
- Budget the time and money.
Sometimes treating yourself to a massage or manicure, or going shopping for a new outfit can make you feel simply amazing. Budgeting and scheduling in order to make this, or any of the above ideas happen, is an act of self-care in itself. Make caring for yourself, mentally and physically, a priority. You are infinitely worth it
Journalist: Hannah Mayo