Whether you’re a working mama, stay-at-home mom, or something in between, there are going to be some days (okay, maybe a lot of days) when you’re feeling completely steamrolled.
Many people will probably tell you, “Take some time for yourself!” But that advice might drive you crazy because the one question you’re always asking yourself is… but how? There are diapers to change, dinners to cook, clothes to be put away.
While it may not feel realistic schedule yourself a 4-hour spa getaway (though, if it does, DO IT), there are small things you can do to make sure your mental and physical well-being are being prioritized too.
1. Take care of a chore… alone. One of the things that really wears me down as a mom is that there is so much that needs to be done, but with little ones, I can so rarely see a task to completion without interruption. Loading the dishwasher shouldn’t take 30 minutes, but it does if the toddler won’t stop chasing the dog and the baby pooped herself up to her ears. Have a partner or trusted caregiver take over the kid duties while you get something done that you’ve been needing to do all day. It may still be work, but being able to do it quickly and efficiently may give you a sense of accomplishment. Not to mention a few minutes of quiet.
2. Hire a mother’s helper or a maid service. If you can swing it financially, having an extra pair of hired hands around, whether it’s to help with the kids or help with the housework, can provide some much-needed relief. Even if it’s only once a month, it’s a treat you can look forward to.
3. Have a date night in. You can still have quality time with your partner even if you don’t want to spring for a babysitter. Schedule a night where you do something special outside of your usual routine after the kids are in bed. Instead of sitting on opposite ends of the couch like zombies in front of the TV, play a game, bake together, or even just make out like high school kids. If you’re a single mama, you can invite a close friend over for wine and a movie. Regardless of your situation, take some time to reconnect with someone special and enjoy some grownup socialization.
4. Share something you enjoy with your kids. As moms, we have to put up with a fair amount of activities that aren’t exactly fun for us. We watch Baby Shark 10 times in a row or pretend to be impressed when someone excitedly shows us their block tower. But you might be surprised at what things you enjoy that your kids do too. Play some of your favorite tunes and have a dance party, bake cookies together, or show them how to do one of your hobbies. It might not be the same as time to yourself, but you never know what you and your kids can enjoy together.
5. Allow yourself to relax when the kids are asleep. This can be a difficult mental block to breakthrough. The kids are finally napping/down for the night, so you quickly start trying to do all those things you couldn’t do when they were raising hell all day. But as much as those things need to be done, you have to give yourself permission to use that time for just you. One of the things I do is I keep a book with me when I’ll have the kids in the car anywhere near nap time. If they fall asleep in the car, rather than try to move them into the house or wake them up, I’ll just sit in the car and read. I have to fight the voice in my head that says, “You should be doing something more productive.” But I remind myself that every nap time doesn’t have to be a rush to get things done. When they sleep in the car, I get my reading time.
6. Insist on time for personal hygiene/grooming. We’ve all heard the stereotypical description of motherhood where mommy is a disheveled mess who hasn’t showered in three days. But being in such a state can take its toll on your mental health. It’s bad enough you’re not getting enough sleep, but to also have to feel unkempt and unclean? It doesn’t have to be that way. Let your partner know that this is something you need and insist that you get it. Take a hot shower, shave your legs, apply some nail polish. It may not be a day at the spa, but it can still feel incredibly refreshing and rejuvenating.
7. Get your sweat on. Exercise has so many physical and mental benefits. You can help strengthen and tone your body, lose weight, and let off some mental steam with just a 20 minute work out. There are lots of exercises you can do with your kids. Pack them up in the stroller for a jog, do some yoga on the floor with your baby while she gets her tummy time, or go for a nature hike together. See my post “5 FREE Fitness Apps That Make Working Out Fun” for some apps you can download for more ideas. Working out with your children gives you all the benefits of exercise while still being present with your kiddos.
Getting time to take care of yourself may not always be easy but it is so important. If you don’t find ways to get some me-time, you risk burning yourself out, and that doesn’t benefit you, or your partner, or your kids.
Originally published on The Nerd Mom.