As a new mother, it’s easy to get lost in the whirlwind of sleepless nights and dirty nappies. Having a child is one of the most rewarding experiences, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges. Breastfeeding, sleepless nights and extra laundry; are just some ways that motherhood can be overwhelming. I’ve put together a list of small self-care practices that you can implement in your life as a mother.
Get your to-do list out of your head and onto paper.
One way to get a handle on your schedule is to write down your to-do list. Try using a notebook, or if you’re more of a high-tech person, use an app such as Google Calendar. The point is: Don’t just think about the tasks you need to accomplish—write them down. This process can be really helpful for mothers who feel overwhelmed by all of the things they want or need to do in order to take care of their families and themselves.
Don’t worry about ordering or prioritising your tasks at first; just write them all down as soon as you think about them. You can revisit this list later (or even throughout the day) and decide if any changes need to be made based on priorities, time constraints and other constraints like finances or resources available at home.
Once you can clearly see your thoughts written down in front of you, psychologically you will be a little more at ease, even if the list is long. You will physically see how much you would like to get done and feel the satisfaction of crossing things off as you go along. Motherhood can be quite thankless and cyclical at times so doing this can give you a sense of achievement.
Create a morning routine.
A morning routine is a great way to start your day in a calm, positive way. It can be as simple or elaborate as you want it to be, but the idea is that you get yourself organised and ready for the day ahead before your kids get up.
A morning routine is a great way to start your day in a calm, positive manner. It can also help you get organised, better mentally prepared and set yourself up for success for the rest of the day. Waking up earlier than your children helps you to enjoy some quiet time before everyone else is awake and asking for things from you. You’ll be a calmer, more patient and present mother once you spend the time to ensure your own needs are met. It doesn’t need to be hours before your children are due to wake (unless you want to) – a simple 15 minutes can make all the difference.
Think about how much more productive and energised you will be if you take this time to stretch, meditate, have a shower and drink your coffee while it’s still hot. You’re sure to feel refreshed when the kids are ready to get up!
Create a bedtime routine for yourself
We all know how kids thrive on routines and how bedtime routines help them sleep better. We forget that children are just little people. PEOPLE thrive on routines.
A bedtime routine helps you relax. A bedtime routine also helps get you to sleep faster at night. If you have a regular time each day to turn off the lights and shut out the world—especially if that time comes at the end of a busy day—you’ll be better able to switch off yourself as well. You can be as indulgent as you like. I personally enjoy a long, hot shower at the end of the day. This is the time when I use my fancy skincare, light a candle, and spend some time listening to an app like Calm or Headspace to help you switch off.
Set alarms for yourself
We all know that we need to take time for ourselves – but we often just put ourselves at the bottom of the list. Self-care is important for us as mothers as we often have a hard time disconnecting from our kids and the stresses of life.
The best way to ensure that you’re taking care of yourself is by setting reminders—either on your phone or a clock—to remind you to do things like meditate or go for a walk – even if it’s just a reminder to take a few deep breaths and be present for a few minutes.
Listen to music while you run your errands
You might not think about it, but listening to music is a form of self-care. Music has been shown to reduce stress levels, boost moods and even make you more productive.
Think about how much time you spend on errands each week—whether it’s a trip to the grocery store or dropping your kids off at school. These can be stressful activities when they’re done in silence. Listening to music while doing these things can help relieve stress and give you a moment of relaxation in an otherwise chaotic day.
Get into the habit of having classical music in the background at home or in the car. It can be so therapeutic (and you’ll feel like you’re in a movie). In fact, some studies have found that playing classical piano music in the background can improve behavioural issues in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). The researchers believe this may be because classical piano pieces have slower tempos than other genres like pop or rock which allows for better processing speed for people with ASDs who are more likely than others to experience sensory overload from rapid stimulation around them.
Sounds dramatic – but trust me. Do it for a week and you’ll notice the difference.
Don’t skip the self-care shower
If you can shower before the kids wake or after they sleep – great. If not, don’t skip the shower. Forget hygiene, we all know that as mothers, whatever we do, we WILL end up covered in bodily fluids and food after a few minutes with our kids. But a shower just as a quick pick me up can make all the difference.
A three-minute shower is better than no shower at all. Make the most of your time: turn on some music or podcasts while washing up and enjoying some relaxing tunes.
Carve out some time for silence as often as you can
It can be hard to carve out time for silence, especially when you have an infant or a toddler (or both) running around.
The first step is to intentionally set aside time for silence. This might mean setting an alarm on your phone or wearing a watch with a silent second hand so you know when to stop talking or playing music. It may also mean putting your phone on airplane mode and leaving it in another room while you make the space for yourself in the moment. And if at all possible, try taking off your earphones once in awhile—so many people are disconnected from their own senses because they’re constantly plugged into some sort of media during their waking hours (and even sometimes during sleep).
We’ve become so accustomed to this kind of constant stimulation that we don’t even realise how much we need quiet time!
Practice doing one thing at a time
When you’re trying to juggle multiple tasks at one time, it can be tempting to take on too much. Try setting a timer for yourself and see how long you can concentrate on only one task. You might be surprised at how much more effectively you get things done!
It’s also important not to multi-task or check email, social media or text messages while you are working on something else. Not only does this distract from your work, but it takes up valuable brain space that could be better allocated elsewhere. I’ve started setting limits on apps like Instagram and Tiktok to avoid the endless doom scrolling – and trying to be a little more mindful of where I am spending my time and energy.
Finally, don’t try to do too many things at once—you’ll end up feeling overwhelmed and resentful instead of focused and productive.
Take your vitamins
This is one of the most important things you can do as a parent. Everyone in your family needs vitamins, not just you!
Vitamins are essential for preventing stress, depression and anxiety and promoting healthy sleep patterns. They also help boost moods and energy levels.
Delegate! Delegate! Delegate!
One of the most powerful ways to take care of yourself is by delegating tasks that are not your strong suit. For example, if you’re not great at keeping up with the laundry but know someone who is, then consider having them come over and do it for you every week or two. Likewise, if you have an aunt or cousin with a green thumb who loves gardening, consider hiring them to come over once a month to plant flowers around your yard.
The point here is that sometimes we can take on too much because we don’t want to ask others for help—but this ends up being counterintuitive because it leaves us exhausted and drained! Delegate! Delegate! Delegate!
The key here is finding people who are trustworthy and good at what they do; otherwise, this practice will become more of an annoyance than anything else. So go ahead—put out some feelers (but only after vetting their credentials). You might be surprised at how many people are willing to pitch in when given the opportunity!
Get dressed in the morning
As a mum it can be really easy to forget yourself. Anyone without kids will think “how can you just forget to get dressed?” but mums will get it. Forget about the aesthetic, but I feel so much better when I get dressed for the day – even if it is putting on some yoga pants and a bit of moisturiser. It seems like a basic need, but for a time-constrained mother this can be a great self-care practice to make a habit.
Self care doesn’t have to be hard, expensive or time consuming.
Self care doesn’t have to be hard, expensive or time-consuming. In fact, you can take a few moments right now to practice some self care by taking several deep breaths and then slowly exhaling. Just like that!
Self-care can seem like a luxury, but there are simple ways to incorporate it into your daily life. You don’t have to take expensive vacations or buy fancy tea. It’s about making the most of what you already have at home and organising your day so that you prioritise taking care of yourself – will make you a happier and healthier mum.