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I’m going to get real here. I have not been a great mom for the last few weeks. I’ve been tired and irritable and haven’t had a lot of patience with my kids.
My husband has been working long hours so I’m running solo more often than usual, which wears on me after awhile (single parents: you are my heroes.). Between my full-time job, caring for the kids, and trying to keep the house at least moderately clean, I’m pretty much running on empty.
It’s become blatantly obvious to me that I need to do more to take care of myself. Now, historically I’ve been a bit resistant to the idea of “self care.” I don’t know if I thought I was tough enough not to need it or if I found it too self indulgent or what. But I’ve recognized that I can’t sustain what I’ve been doing. As they say, you can’t pour from an empty cup, and I am beyond empty.
I need some help, which is why I started researching self care for working moms.
The Challenge of Being a Working Mom
Motherhood is challenging, full stop. I want to be abundantly clear that in no way am I trying to imply that being a working mom is harder than being a stay at home mom.
As a working mom, I try to make the most of the limited time I do have with my children. I’m loathe to do things on the evenings or weekends that will pull me away from them.
On the other hand, I have minimal time to do all of the other things I need to do like grocery shop, laundry, and cleaning house. And forget about any semblance of a social life. The last time I saw a movie in the movie theater was three years ago. My husband and I haven’t been on a date for months, and I struggle to remember the last time I did something with a group of friends.
Yeah, this mama needs help. I’m assuming there are a lot of other mothers in the same position, which is why I felt compelled to create this list of ideas for self care for working moms.
Start on the Inside
You can’t be a happy parent if you don’t take care of yourself physically. Your health is the foundation for being able to take care of others. That’s why maintaining health and physical well-being is at the the top of my list for self care for working moms. Even better, all of these self care ideas are completely free.
Dehydration makes us miserable. We’re tired, cranky, and prone to headaches and muscle aches. No one is pleasant to be around when feeling like that.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
It’s easy enough for me to sip water while I’m calmly sitting at my desk. But when I’m chasing after the kids all day, that’s a different story. I find myself gulping down water after the kids go to bed, and I realize it’s because I didn’t drink enough during the day.
So grab your refillable water bottle and keep it close throughout the day. If you don’t like the taste of water, add a squeeze of citrus to brighten it up.
How often do you wake up with sore muscles? Or slowly rise from the floor because your body isn’t quite ready to get moving again? If you feel sore, tight, or tense, it’s time to start stretching more.
Like I talked about in my post on how to incorporate more exercise into your day, you don’t need to do a lot to start feeling the benefits. While you’re playing a board game with your kids, stretch out your legs. Do some shoulder and neck rolls when you’re sitting at your desk. Even when you’re relaxing watching TV after the kids go to bed, point and flex your toes. These little movements that you do throughout the day will keep you looser and feeling better.
Stretching is such an easy way to feel better, and you can do it anywhere, which is why it’s such a natural way to practice self care for working moms.
I’ve really been focusing on keeping my breathing slow and calm. It helps me keep my cool longer when the kids are being maniacs. Breathing slowly lowers your heart rate, reduces your blood pressure, and helps you deal with stress.
If you’re breathing shallowly, you’re more apt to feel the “flight or fight” mentality when you stress. By forcing ourselves to breath slowly and deeply, we feel calmer and get back in control. Just like we tell our kids when they’re in the throws of a tantrum, breathe deeply to help yourself calm down.
Slow and calm breathing doesn’t just help us when the kids are being crazy. It helps when the stress is mounting at work too. Breathing is a simply way to get back in control at work and at home, which makes it an easy priority for self care for working moms.
Breathing deeply also helps us to relax and get to sleep faster. And I don’t know a single mom who doesn’t need more sleep!
Stop Sacrificing the Basics
Moms sacrifice for their kids. We all know this. And that’s fine and proper. But we don’t need to sacrifice EVERYTHING all the TIME. We can set limits for our own mental health.
I was originally going to call this section “treat yourself” but I realized nothing in this category should be a “treat.” These are just basic things that we can do for ourselves. They shouldn’t be considered treats. So, set some red lines and do these things for yourself.
Drink your coffee hot
A funny memory popped up on my facebook memories the other day. I had posted something about how it was freaky that I woke up at 7:00 a.m. on a weekend without an alarm clock. Clearly this was long before I had kids! Now, it’s freaky if I get to sleep in until 7:00 a.m! And because of this, I need my coffee in the morning.
As a kid, we always teased my mom because we would often find her coffee cup in the microwave. Mom, I get it now, and I’m sorry for teasing you. I should have heated it up for you and then gone to my room to play so you could enjoy it in peace.
We may not be able to stop the constant interruptions kids bring, but we can still drink our coffee hot. Rather than your standard mug, put your coffee in a thermal cup to keep it hotter longer. Us moms get up early, run through the whole day, and get to bed late. We should at least be able to enjoy a hot cup of coffee to keep us going through it all.
Take a longer shower
Did you ever realize it’s just assumed that new moms don’t shower? When did we get to a point that that was okay? Why should moms sacrifice basic hygiene to watch their kids? Different story if you’re raising kids solo, but if you have a partner sharing the workload, put your foot down and make sure you get a shower every day. Or really splurge and take a bath (gasp!)!
Self care for working moms doesn’t have to be hard or extravagant. Sometimes a hot cup of coffee and a relaxing shower is all we need!
I’ve always been a wash-and-go kind of girl, and fairly basic with my makeup. But even with that, I’ve noticed my appearance has definitely taken a backseat to raising kids. I’m not one to focus on appearance much, but I realized that not keeping up with myself starts a vicious cycle. I get frustrated and overwhelmed with feeling like a hot mess, which makes me feel more like a hot mess. That contributes to me feeling like I’ve completely lost myself in motherhood.
Moms, we need to put a stop to this. If you subscribe to the theory that how you present yourself externally reflects how you feel about yourself on the inside, it’s time we start taking care of ourselves. Since I need to be presentable at work, doing things to make myself look and feel better is a no brainer for my list of self care for working moms.
Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I don’t like to do things on the weekend that pull me away from my kids. Because of that, I’m not one to go to the nail salon, but there are easy things to do at home to start feeling like my old self again.
It does make me sad that I’m including shaving on my list of self care for working moms.
I gotta admit, I don’t shave nearly as often as I did pre-kids. Before kids, I might let myself go for a week in the winter, but generally whenever I started feeling a bit stubbly, I would take the time to shave. Now? It could be two weeks before I get around to shaving.
Remember that nice, clean feeling you get when you shave and make the time to do it. For yourself.
Other hair removal
I suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome, and one of the symptoms is excessive facial hair. I used to use products like Nair, but after having kids, my skin seemed to become more sensitive. Even with the gentlest of formulas, I gave myself chemical burns. Not fun.
I recently tried a facial hair remover and it is a game changer. It’s fast, painless, and does a fantastic job. Because of it, I’m regularly defuzzing myself. I feel better about myself and my confidence level has gone up. Win.
I think I had my last round of nail polish on my toes for months before I finally got around to removing it. I just didn’t take the time so I had ugly chipped and growing out polish for months. Crammed in my shoes during the cold months, they were out of sight so I didn’t think much of it.
But I started to feel sloppy and unkempt. Enough was enough so one day I decided to do my nails while my kids were watching TV. And you know what? I finished, my toes looked pretty again, and my son was fascinated by what I was doing. Get your toe separators and your favorite polish and take ten minutes to do something for yourself. That’s really all the time it takes.
Juggling home and work is tough and working moms don’t have much spare time. But we can find a few minutes here and there to do something for ourselves, especially when our kids are otherwise occupied. This is how to practice self care for working moms, or any mom really. Make the most of the limited time you have and do something for yourself, even if it’s just ten minutes.
I’m terrible at getting my haircut on a regular schedule. Even before kids I would go months between haircuts. But it’s only gotten worse since kids. If you’re concerned about the expense or the time it takes to get your haircut, skip the washing and the blowout. It’s tough to swallow $25 just for someone to blow dry your hair. If that’s what is holding you back from getting your haircut, ask your stylist to skip the blowout. It will save you time and money.
Of course, getting your hair cut and styled can feel like quite the luxury, so if you’re not crunched for time or funds, absolutely go ahead and splurge with the wash and blow dry. You deserve it!
Often, I’m so exhausted by the end of the day that I take a quick shower and collapse into bed. I skip moisturizing and invariably my skin gets dry and itchy. Take thirty seconds to slather yourself up. Even better, splurge a bit on a fancier moisturizer with your favorite scent. It’s these small treats that can turn a regular task into a way to practice self care for working moms.
I don’t believe that women have to use makeup. But if it’s something you did before kids and makes you feel better about yourself, find a quick routine that works for you. Sure, you may not have time for a smokey eye and bronzer, but you can take five minutes for yourself to put on some foundation, swipe on your lip gloss, and pump your eyelashes with mascara.
Have Your Own Stuff
One of the challenges I’ve had with motherhood is feeling like nothing is mine anymore. Between pregnancy and pumping, my body was taken over by the kids before and after their births. Nearly all my time is devoted to caring for them or going to work. The kids take my purse, wear my shoes, and eat food off of my plate.
I knew that’s what I was getting into with motherhood, and it’s fine. But sometimes I just want to feel like I have something of my own again. So I started doing small things that were just for me. Nothing is major or revolutionary, but by setting some boundaries on what is mine, I regain a bit of myself again.
For example, I bought a fun shower gel that my husband won’t touch. I keep some of my favorite wines in the house so I can enjoy a glass in the evening if I want. And sometimes I get a bag of fancier coffee for the mornings when I need an extra pick up. Find those small things that perk you up and make you feel like yourself again and selfishly enjoy them. Not everything has to be for your kids, or your spouse!
Take a Break
I had a former colleague come back to town a few weeks ago so we went out for drinks after I got off of work. I think it was the first time I did a happy hour in almost five years. Five. Years. For nearly five years, I’ve been rushing home to get the kids and get dinner on the table. For five years, I’ve sacrificed adult conversations and social interaction to take care of the kids.
Again, I knew that’s what I was getting into and I don’t mean to sound like I’m complaining. I wouldn’t trade being a mother for the world. But it can be draining, and a drained parent is usually not a good parent. I know I probably sound like a broken record, but this is why we need self care for working moms. We need balance to be good parents, good worker, and good spouses.
Talk with your partner and determine a schedule that works for both of you to take a day or night off. Maybe it’s once a week, or once a month. Taking a break allows us to recharge and be better parents. And being a more relaxed and attentive parent is good for our kids.
Find what recharges you. Maybe it’s a happy hour with friends, going to see a movie, or taking a yoga class. Just be sure it’s something for you. Don’t run errands or take your break time to see the dentist. Do something for you that you enjoy. That is self care for working moms.
Find a Hobby
Hobbies are another thing that went mostly by the wayside when the kids entered the scene. Some hobbies my husband and I had, like camping and hiking, we’ve incorporated the kids into. Others, like scuba and skiing seem like distant memories.
It might not be possible to pick up all of your old hobbies. Activities that are expensive or include travel can be tough when raising kids, particularly when they’re little. If you can’t do your old hobbies, maybe it’s time to find new ones. Here are easy at-home hobbies you can consider:
- At-home workout (check out YouTube for ideas!)
- Board games, cards, puzzles
- Coloring (Girls from the 80s and 90s: There are adult Lisa Frank coloring books!)
- Learn a new language from a software program like Fluenz
- DIY home decor or crafting (check out my Pinterest board on DIY projects for your home)
- Cooking, baking, cake decorating
- Knitting, crocheting, embroidery, sewing
Find what brings you joy and fulfillment and embrace it! Hobbies can nourish our bodies and our minds, and give us a welcome break from our day-to-day responsibilities. We may not be able to go on a luxury vacation every year, but a simple, regular break to spend time doing something you enjoy can refill your cup, and that is what self care for working moms is all about.
Self Care for Working Moms: Why You Need It
Motherhood is amazing, fulfilling, fun, and joyful. It’s also hard, draining, time-consuming, and stressful.
Working moms are always caught between trying to fulfill their demands at work, while still trying to fulfill the needs of their kids, spouse, and home. It’s not an easy balance. So it’s easy to get caught up in trying to manage it all and completely lose yourself in the process. That’s why we need self care for working moms.
Working moms, and all moms for that matter, need balance. We need to take care of ourselves so we can take good care of our kids. A mom who takes time for herself is more relaxed and fulfilled. And a mom that is relaxed and fulfilled can be a better mom.
If you feel, like I have recently, that all you do is stress about your to do list and yell at your kids, chances are something is out of balance. I know it’s hard, but force yourself to take time for you. Find a combination from this list of self care for working moms that works for you. But take that time for you.
If you’re reading this and worried about how to be the best mom possible, I can pretty much bet you’re already a great mom. It may just not feel like it if you’re completely subsumed by motherhood. Refill your cup and find yourself again. You and your kids will be better for it.
As a working mom, how do you practice self care? Share in the comment field below so we can all learn! Be well, mamas.