As a busy parent, I know it’s hard to find time to relax or learn more about practicing self-care techniques. However, as a wife, mother, and educator, I have found the practice of self-care to be an essential part of living a healthy life. Taking the time to learn how to do it, and incorporate those practices, has made an enormous impact on my life.
The practice of mindfulness has taught me how to slow down and become more aware of what I am doing and how I feel in any given moment. This, in turn, lends itself to carving out more time for self-care because I can see how busy I’ve become, where I need to make adjustments, and how important it is to take a break from mothering my children.
Mindful living can reap benefits ranging from a better night’s sleep, reduced anxiety, lowered blood pressure, and healthier and happier relationships with others.1 Read below for seven steps to guide you through a day of loving self-care.
Practicing Self-Care in Seven Steps
STEP 1: Clear Your Calendar
The most important step in learning how to practice self-care is by making it a priority in your schedule. Make a date with yourself and clear the calendar for that time. Whether it’s one hour or eight, making time for yourself is important.
STEP 2: Schedule Childcare
To practice self-care, you must get someone else to watch those kiddos for a while! Set up care for your child(ren) a few days in advance. If you’d like free childcare, ask your spouse, a family member, or a friend to watch your child. You can also see if another mom/parent is willing to do a childcare swap (i.e., you watch their little one for a few hours, and in exchange, they will babysit your child on another day). You can also go with paid childcare by hiring a babysitter or enrolling your child in daycare. Some cities now have “drop-in” daycare options, as well.
STEP 3: Make Your Self-Love List
Whether your list has one idea or one hundred, jot down a list of self-love activities you want to do for yourself. The sky is the limit, so think about what brings you joy. Then, choose one to three options for that day.
STEP 4: Drop Off Your Child(ren) and Savor The Freedom
After your kiddos have been settled into their childcare and you are alone, take a moment to savor this feeling of freedom. It’s okay and normal to feel confused, maybe even sad, particularly if this is a new experience for you. But remember that the healthier you are, the healthier they will be. Remind yourself that it is good to practice self-care and take time for yourself, apart from your children. If you have to, write this truth down or speak it out loud as a prayer, intention, or on a phone call with a trusted friend.
STEP 5: Get Grounded
You may want to begin your alone time with a grounding activity that makes you feel centered. Examples include taking a yoga class, participating in a guided meditation on your phone or TV, doing a mindfulness journaling exercise, practicing a breathing exercise, calling a friend to chat, or taking a walk. Choose whatever makes you feel rooted and present in your day.
STEP 6: Enjoy Yourself
Do one of the three activities you wrote in your Self Love List. (One may have been the grounding activity you just completed.) The important thing here is that you can do this activity without interruption from your child. I must confess that sometimes cleaning is on my list. When others care for my children, I like to clean briefly before jumping into my fun activity. Cleaning and having my personal space organized feels great.
That is part of what makes practicing self-care so meaningful. You can focus entirely on your well-being and do what you want without interruption.
Other examples of self-love activities include:
- Painting your nails or getting a manicure
- Enjoying a shower or bath
- Taking a nap
- Taking a walk/run in nature
- Shopping (self-care necessities for moms)
- Working with flowers, plants, or gardening
- Visiting a museum
- Taking a dance or exercise class
- Taking an art class
- Learning a new language
- Getting coffee with a friend
- Going on a date with your spouse
- Reading a book
- Relaxing at a coffee shop
- Listening to a podcast
- Participating in a service, volunteer, or spiritual activity
- Doing any activities or hobbies that bring you joy–and getting to do those things without being interrupted.
STEP 7: Practice Gratitude
Once your activity is done, take a moment to express gratitude for the time you’ve had. Thank yourself for making you a priority, and thank those who made it possible for you to take time to practice self-care. If you believe in a higher power, express gratitude there, too. Practicing gratitude reinforces the good feelings and positive experience you just had and makes it more likely that you’ll do it again, turning self-care into a regular part of your healthy lifestyle!