Living life at the whim of a toddler can leave moms feeling burnt out, overworked and uncared for. Since our little ones can’t take care of us (and shouldn’t feel the need to!), we need to find a way to take care of ourselves. Creating a daily self care routine, and making it a priority, can go a long way in preventing mom burnout. This can be particularly challenging for stay at home moms. I know I have fallen victim to the “but I don’t need to leave the house anyway” mentality. The truth is, it’s not about taking care of yourself to meet societal standards. Maintaining a daily self care routine is about taking care of yourself for you, and it’s easier to do than you might think. Let’s talk about how to create a daily self care routine in 3 easy steps.
How to Create a Daily Self Care Routine
1. Find Your Windows
Every Mom is Different
Some of us live for the night, when little ones are fast asleep, while others crave mom time in the morning with a hot cup of coffee. If you’re like me, you set strict timelines for nap schedules and routines for your baby or toddler. Though I can’t even imagine how they manage to do so, there are also moms who let their kids decide the schedule each day by watching for cues or, if they are old enough, asking them what they want. (I totally see why this is a great method, I’m just way too routine oriented to attempt it!)
Regardless of your personal preference or parenting style, the one thing that you simply must maintain as a routine is self care. Even if you are a go-with-the-flow kind of mom, there has to be some sort of structure that naturally occurs each day, right? Does your toddler always go to bed or wake up at the same time? Is there always a nap at some point each day that lasts for a certain amount of time? These are your windows; your windows of opportunity to take time for yourself.
2. Define Your Tasks
So, what do you do in your time windows?
If you stay up to date on the posts here at Sane Momma, you know that I write a lot about mom time. This post isn’t about making time to do the things you love, although I may touch on it a bit. This is about making time to do the things you need to do to feel like a human. It’s about finding a way to make sure that you are still maintaining a certain level of sanity each day.
When you find your time windows, you need to use them to fit in the most important needs first. If you’re a stay at home mom, this may be as simple as brushing your teeth, taking a shower and putting on something other than pajamas. If you work from home, maybe you could even dress up as though you are physically going to work. Feeling well put together can actually have quite an impact on your work performance. Either way, the goal here is to meet your basic human needs and then some.
Let’s look at some tasks you may want to include in your morning and evening self care routines…
Morning Self Care Routine Ideas
- Brush Teeth
- Face Care Routine (wash, tone, moisturize)
- Actually style your hair
- Put on makeup and have fun with it (do whatever makes you feel beautiful)
- Get dressed in something that makes you look amazing
- Exercise (even if it’s just 15 minutes of cardio or aerobics to get your heart pumping)
- Eat a healthy breakfast – Seriously, don’t skip this one
Evening Self Care Routine Ideas
- Brush your teeth (floss, use mouthwash…the works)
- Shower (or better yet, take a nice long bath)
- Face care routine (wash, tone, moisturize)
- Comb your hair (so it’s not a disaster in the morning)
- Take some downtime for just you (this is where mom time comes in)
Other Self Care Routine Ideas
- Doctor appointments and healthcare
- Downtime (alone) with your significant other
- Weekly or monthly beauty practices (mani/pedi, facial, hair treatment, hair removal, tanning)
- Unwinding activities (massage, sauna, etc.)
- Tasks needed to reach your long-term self care goals (weight loss, complexion, etc.
3. Make it Happen
How can you fit your daily self care routine in each day when you already feel like you can barely manage to get the kids fed and clothed each day?
The Bottom Line…
You have to make it happen. If your child gets sick and you have to take them to the doctor, you somehow find a way to make that happen, right? Not because you magically found an extra hour in your day, but because you have to. The biggest obstacle to creating a self care routine as a mom is not making it a priority. That being said, there are ways to make the process easier. The 7 tips that follow can help you to pencil in your self care routine, even when you think you can’t.
Tip #1 – Pick a Time When You’re “Off-the-Clock”
Pick a time in the evening when you are officially “off the clock”. For me, this time is about 8pm. By this time each night, my son is in bed (hopefully asleep) and I have tidied up the whirlwind of toys left behind from the day’s activities. At 8pm, I’m done with my “job”. As a stay at home mom, I could work around the clock if I let myself.
There’s always something to be cleaned, a meal to prep, and laundry to be done. If I stop at 8pm, the work will still be there tomorrow. Between the decrease in productivity when I’m overworked and the increase in productivity when I give myself some “off the clock” time, taking a couple of hours off each night really doesn’t make a difference in what I accomplish. It does, however, make a difference in my mood, and the overall quality of time spent with my husband.
Tip #2 – Get Some Sleep
If there’s one thing everyone needs, particularly moms, it’s sleep. Before you can tackle just about anything, you have to make sure you are well rested, or at least not exhausted. Fortunately, creating an evening self care routine can help to make this happen. I’m sure n all moms are familiar with the importance of bedtime routines for babies and young children. Guess what? The same rules apply to adults! When you have a routine before bed, you are actually telling your brain that its time for bed before you even lie down. By the time you are all tucked in and ready to go, your brain knows exactly what it needs to do: shut down.
In addition to the creation of an evening self care routine, there are a few things you can do to promote more restful sleep. In my opinion, the most effective way to increase the quality of your sleep is to turn off all electronics an hour before bed. I have a slightly obsessive personality and, when given the opportunity, I will check my phone constantly. Put the phone down, turn off the TV (or remove it from the bedroom altogether) and unplug from the world. Read a book, meditate, or listen to some soothing music. Speaking of music, another great idea is to use a noise machine. We took this tip from our little one as well. The first night we tried it, I slept better than I had in months.
Get Up Earlier
I am a big promoter of utilizing your mornings these days. Before I had my son I was definitely a night person and I absolutely hated mornings. I don’t know if it was the first few months of motherhood, and the complete lack of sleep that came with it, but this has completely switched for me. By 9pm, I’m usually too exhausted to even think about doing anything, but my mornings are my happy time. I can wake up before my son or my husband are awake and I can do whatever I want! I’ll admit, I usually use this time to do something productive, but if I wanted to put in headphones and dance around, I totally could!
If you google habits of successful people, you will find that most of them wake up early and start their day right. It isn’t just a coincidence. Waking up early, and not rushing through your morning routine, makes you more productive. I’ve also read a few places that your “creative mind” works best in the morning. Maybe this is why I love writing early in the day!
Tip #3 – Be Prepared
Preparation is a mom’s best friend. One of the biggest adjustments for me as a new mom was the unpredictability of everything. I felt like I didn’t have any control over what was going to happen at any given moment. I’ve found that preparing for whatever I can, has made a huge difference in my mental well-being and my ability to have some control over my time.
Every week, I try to meal prep as much as I can. By cooking meals in bulk and in advance, it frees up my time in the evenings. At the same time, having already planned out healthy meals for the week prevents us from making “hungry decisions” like ordering pizza. Additionally, meal planning makes grocery shopping a much more efficient task. You can go in knowing exactly what you need. I’m usually in and out in 30 minutes.
Preparing for daily tasks in advance can also free up some time. While you are tidying up at the end of the day, why not set out everything you need for the morning? You’re already right there so it only takes a moment and when you wake up in the morning you will have everything you need to get up and go!
Tip#4 – Get Some Help
We all get a little behind sometimes (okay, all the time). It’s important to recognize that this is completely normal and any other mom will completely understand. If they act like they always have everything perfectly put together all the time, they are lying to you, seriously. Maybe its a trait that develops during pregnancy, but whatever the case may be, moms all seem to feel like they need to do it all. Somehow asking for help seems like a sign of defeat or failure. This is nonsense. We ALL need help sometimes and moms need it even more!
If you’re feeling behind, there’s no shame in asking grandma to babysit for a day so that you can focus on you. Or maybe you don’t spend the day on yourself, but take that time to get caught up around the house, freeing you up for more mom time throughout the week. Whatever you do, don’t feel guilty asking for help. You might be surprised at the positive response you receive from others.
If you are fortunate enough to have the extra income, hiring someone to take care of certain tasks can make a huge difference. Even if you just hire a maid to do some deep cleaning once every few months it can go a long way in reducing the amount of time spent cleaning your home on a daily basis. Better yet, hire a young family member, like your niece or younger sibling or cousin, to help out. They will appreciate the extra spending money and you can feel good helping them out and getting more done simultaneously.
Tip #5 – Teach Your Little One(s) to Play Independently
I know this one is easier said than done, but if you can pull it off, it’s pretty awesome. My little guy is 15 months old now and has become more accustom to playing independently (off and on) for a couple of hours each morning. As long as I am nearby and take frequent breaks to give him attention, I have an hour or so to blog, work, or get things done around the house. I wish I could tell you the magic recipe for making this happen, but the only advice I can offer is to be consistent. Pick a time when your little one is well rested and well fed and encourage independent play at that same time each day. They will most likely become adapted to the new routine and, if they are anything like my son, they will actually really enjoy having their own space for a bit,
But that’s not all…
By far the most effective way to make sure you work your self care routine into your daily schedule is to write it down and hold yourself accountable. So, here is my bonus tip with a nice freebie to go along with it!
Tip #6 – Use a Planner/Checklist
One of the most effective ways to incorporate your self care routine into your daily life is to use a planner or a checklist. Lucky for you, I may be slightly obsessed with creating lovely printables for situations such as these. I have created a simple planner/checklist where you can write down all of your daily self care routine goals and check them off as you go. If you really want to go all out, you can put this printable in a picture frame and use a whiteboard marker to check off your tasks each day. Download your FREE Checklist by filling out the form below!
What do YOU do to fit self care into your daily routine?
Let me know in the comments!