It’s Mother’s Day, which makes it the perfect time to talk about a mom’s most unattainable dream, self-care!
When I talk to my clients, especially new moms, about self-care, they often envision a spa day with a massage, green tea in one hand, and their favorite book in the other with endless hours to ‘spoil themselves’. Of course with this vision in mind their response to the idea is almost always “I don’t have time” or “I can’t ask anyone to look after my baby for this long” or “that’s not sustainable”. I agree, it’s not. But, that’s only because this is not the most ideal way of thinking about how to take time for yourself.
For the first couple of years after I had my child I struggled to take any time for myself. Back then I knew it was important, but the planning and execution of what I thought was considered ‘me-time overwhelmed me so much that I continued to avoid it until…well until I couldn’t anymore.
After reaching that point of complete burn out I came to know better. I learned the hard way that self-care is not a luxury but a necessity. As a mom, if you want to have a chance at ‘doing it all” or at least trying, it is beyond crucial that you take the time to recharge and replenish your energy. This can only be done by prioritizing your own wellbeing. Remember that “you can’t pour from an empty cup”.
The following are some simple, practical, and sustainable self-care ideas that any mom can easily squeeze into her busy day.
1. Enjoy a hot meal (20 min)
The fact that this is a form of self-care is sad right? Yeah well, welcome to motherhood! How many moms consider leftovers in other family members’ plates as lunch? I know I did at some point. Try cooking your favorite meal and actually take the time to enjoy it while it’s hot!!
2. Read ONE chapter of your book (30 min)
Whether a parenting (it almost always is at this stage), a self-help book, or a novel, making time to read one chapter a day is rewarding and very much doable. There is no better feeling than that of finishing a book.
3. Take 15 minutes to meditate or stretch (10 minutes)
Meditation is my favorite go-to self-care activity simply because you don’t need any gear or equipment to do it. All you need to meditate is a relatively quiet spot around the house, your intention and that’s it! Breathe away! The benefits of meditation are endless, they’re both physical and mental. As stressed-out moms, ten minutes of being in the present moment can go a long way in terms of our mood, our ability to handle stress, and our patience and flexibility throughout the day.
4. Phone up a ‘fellow mama’ (15 minutes)
Connection and the feeling that you are not alone on this crazy motherhood journey is almost always a mood booster for mamas like us. Take some time to phone up a fellow mama and laugh away at your struggles. Believe me, it’s always a good use of your time!
5. Any type of personal care (30 min)
A long(er) shower (anything longer than your record 5 min shower) or even a bath after the kids are in bed, a quick scrub, or an at-home massage -anything you can do for yourself that will make your body relaxed and refreshed is good self-care.
They sound doable, right? To help you put these ideas into practice, make use of ANY spare time and be flexible! The baby napped for ten more minutes today? Great, use them! Self-care doesn’t have to be a luxurious spa day or a trip with your girlfriends. Any small thing that relaxes and energizes you is a win and it’s important to acknowledge it and be proud of yourself!
Salma El-Masry is a child development specialist, parenting educator, and life coach. She specializes in coaching new moms and moms-to-be. She completed her bachelor’s in Psychology from the American University in Cairo (AUC) in 2009. Afterward, she completed a Masters’s in Child and Adolescent Mental Health from University College London (UCL) in 2016. She also founded “Mamahood & More”; a motherhood support platform that provides a safe space for moms to express their thoughts and feelings without any judgment or criticism.