50 Self-Care Ideas for Busy Moms

As busy moms, it can be a struggle to find time for self-care. We’re so busy wiping noses, washing hands, making lunches, and kissing boo boos that we struggle to even find a few minutes for ourselves.

Before you can fill your children’s cups, you must first fill your own. Think of the routine airplane safety message advising you to put on your oxygen mask before assisting others. How can you expect to be fully present and helpful if your brain is running out of oxygen?

“When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.”

– Benjamin Franklin

Are you ready to find some much needed “me time”? The best part about this list is that these activities don’t require a lot of extra time or money.

50 Self-Care Ideas for Busy Moms

Personal Self-Care Ideas

  1. Sleep.
  2. Take a shower.
  3. Shave your legs.
  4. Buy special soap from the grocery store and take a luxurious bath with it.
  5. Rub your feet with lotion at the end of the day.
  6. Paint your nails.
  7. Go to a salon just to get your hair washed.
  8. Try out a new makeup look.
  9. Put on a favorite outfit that you rarely get to wear.

“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.”

– Anna Quindlen

Active Self-Care Ideas

  1. Go for a walk.
  2. Find a fitness class on Youtube. (My favorites are the Fitness Marshall and Yoga with Adriene)
  3. Learn a new yoga pose.
  4. Drink more water.
  5. Stretch.

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”

– Maya Angelou

Quiet Self-Care Ideas

  1. Meditate.
  2. Pray.
  3. Read a book.
  4. Flip through a magazine.
  5. Follow a guided meditation.
  6. Daydream.
  7. Think of three things you’re grateful for.
  8. Drink some tea or hot chocolate and take a moment to sit and think.
  9. Bird watch.
  10. Write down three things you love about yourself.
  11. Find an uplifting quote.
  12. Watch the sun set.
  13. Put on some relaxing music and take deep breaths. (I search “spa music” on YouTube.)

“Don’t sacrifice yourself too much, because if you sacrifice too much there’s nothing else you can give and nobody will care for you.”

– Karl Lagerfeld

Social Self-Care Ideas

  1. Grab a coffee with friends.
  2. Ask friends for recommendations of new music.
  3. Call or text a friend you haven’t seen in a while.
  4. Play a board game.
  5. Write a thank you note (or e-mail or text).
  6. If you have a pet, spend time with them.
  7. Volunteer.
  8. When shopping, ask your sales associate how their day has been. You might be surprised how this little bit of time can bring joy to both of you.
  9. Eat by candlelight.
  10. Organize a potluck dinner with friends.

“Nourishing yourself in a way that helps you blossom in the direction you want to go is attainable, and you are worth the effort.”

– Deborah Day

Creative Self-Care Ideas

  1. Do something you loved as a kid. (Watching clouds, anyone?)
  2. Listen to your favorite song(s).
  3. Start a journal. Write whatever you’re thinking. Don’t censor; just write.
  4. Learn a new skill. (Search YouTube and Pinterest for tutorials).
  5. Do a creative art project, like finger painting. (Why should your kids have all the fun?)
  6. Turn on some music from your teenage years.
  7. Lay on the floor. It gives you a different perspective.

“In dealing with those who are undergoing great suffering, if you feel “burnout” setting in, if you feel demoralized and exhausted, it is best, for the sake of everyone, to withdraw and restore yourself. The point is to have a long-term perspective.”

– Dalai Lama

Silly Self-Care Ideas

  1. Watch a funny movie.
  2. Follow a funny mom. (Check out I Mom So Hard and Kristina Kuzmic)
  3. Hide $5 in your winter coat or summer shorts, depending on whichever you are NOT wearing currently.
  4. Doodle. Not because of the product, but because of the process. It’s fun.
  5. Search “funny mom” or “funny mom quotes” on Pinterest.
  6. Put your jammies in the dryer for a few minutes before putting them on.

“Self-compassion is simply giving the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to others.”

– Christopher Germer

You are worth it!

You are worth it, mama! You will be a better mom, wife, friend and person when you take time to restore your spirit and body. Self-care doesn’t take long or take much money. Motherhood is a marathon, not a sprint. Take care of yourself so you can keep going for the long haul. You are worth it!

Tell me in the comments below, what is your favorite thing to do for self-care?

How to clean your kitchen in 30 minutes or less

It’s hard to clean with a toddler, which is why speed cleaning in small but focused chunks can be a lifesaver. I don’t know about you, but in my house, if we don’t clean the kitchen every day, it seems to explode in chaos: books and toys all over floor, bills scattered on the table and random items ranging from hammers to dirty socks clutter the counters.

I have a (mostly) daily routine to speed clean my kitchen. But inevitably there are days that I miss and my kitchen ends up looking like this:

In this post, I’ll show you how to speed clean your kitchen. In total, this process took 30 minutes, broken into three 10-minute chunks. (more…)

How to achieve happiness in five minutes flat

Are you ready to achieve happiness and live a more fulfilling life?

When is the last time you were present in the moment? I mean, really fully present. Not playing with your kids while checking your phone or running through a mental check list. Not going for a walk while thinking about a comment your friend said. But actually being 100% in that moment, with all your thoughts and attention focused on what was right in front of you?

I can tell you that for me this doesn’t happen often. However, when I make the intention to live 100% in the moment, it’s magic. I see my life in a completely new way, and everything looks more meaningful, more colorful. I notice individual leaves as they sway in the trees. I notice how the wind feels as it ruffles my hair.

Happiness is found in the present.

The other day, I was rocking my toddler to sleep for nap. I don’t rock him because I have to, but honestly because he falls asleep so quickly, I barely get through one song before he’s fast asleep (not so with bedtime, oohboy!) Usually, I rock him until I notice he’s asleep, then I transfer him to his bed.

But on this particular afternoon, I decided to stay. Just for a few minutes. I teared up when I realized I have to commit this moment to memory, because all too soon, it will be purely in the past.

When he is grown and out of the house, will I remember how it felt to have a sleeping child in my arms? Will I remember his warm little body, breathing softly on my belly? Or the fan swirling air through my frizzy hair, the whir of the sound machine, or the afternoon sunlight spilling through the blinds? Will I remember how these quiet moments, in between the tantrums and struggles, were pure bliss?

I went to set him down in his bed and then looked at the clock. Six minutes had passed. In the time it takes me to boot up Youtube on my TV, I had created a lifelong memory.

How to achieve happiness in five minutes flat

There are many ways we can work towards a better life, but by far the easiest way is to be grateful for what you have. Here is a quick exercise for creating happiness with a little amount of time and absolutely no money:

  1. Pick a time when you’re doing something you love, preferably with your kids. (The value of this exercise is easy to see when we direct it towards our precious children.)
  2. Take a moment and breathe. Survey the scene around you. Look at the various people, animals and items. Give them each some time, as if you’re looking at them for the first time.
  3. Listen to the sounds. Do you hear cars traveling or birds chirping? Do you hear your child talking or the crunch of sticks under the toy car?
  4. Find the little things you’re grateful for and savor them. I’ll let my mind simmer over the image of sunlight filtering through my son’s hair, or how he’s using a stick to “fill up” the gas in his toy car. I watch the leaves blow in the wind, and squirrels circling the tree trunk.
  5. Spend at least five minutes in this aware state. Sometimes it’s easy for me to keep going; other times more than 30 seconds is a drag. The important thing is to try to shoot for that five minute mark. Five minutes of being fully immersed in the moment is enough that I will likely view it as the highlight of my day at bedtime.
  6. Repeat.

I do this often when I’m playing outside with my son. I love my son, but being outside when it’s 100 degrees and sunny or 30 degrees and windy…that I do not like. Doing this exercise makes me forget (or at least turns my focus away from) the things that I hate about being outside. It helps me to commit these moments to memory instead of spending the whole time being impatient.

A note about repeating

Number 6 in the exercise says to repeat. You will find more value out of this exercise the more you do it. Like any muscle, if you want to achieve happiness, you have to work at it. Practicing this, you can even start to find value in mundane situations.

Take for example the time I was standing in my garage waiting for contractors to measure and look at a beam that needs repair. I was bored, thought about going to grab my phone or my planner, but instead decided to take the time to be in the moment. So, standing in my garage, the mundane and cluttered place that I walk through every days, I started to look at it with new eyes. I noticed how we still had old lights that we had pulled down but never gotten rid of. I noticed how the yard tools hung on the wall, three of which were parallel, but the fourth ran across it. It almost looked like pop art.

By living in the moment, I turned a boring situation into one of happiness and patience.

Action Step

In the next few days, find a time to put down your cell phone, block out the barrage of incoming thoughts, and take a few minutes. Survey the scene, and take note of what you see, hear, smell, feel, etc. Look for moments that you’re grateful for and focus on them to commit them to memory.

Tell me in the comments below, how did this exercise of living in the moment help you to achieve happiness? What were you doing? What did you experience?

Save time (and your sanity) on holiday activities

It pains me to see moms running around frazzled and stressed out because they’re trying to fit every holiday activity into one short season. We all grow up with family traditions that we love (or feel obligated) to carry on. Combine that with the ones added to the mix by your partner plus the ones you just picked up along the way in your adult life.

What we end up with are so many activities packed into such a short amount of time that we can’t enjoy any of them. We either don’t get through all of them and feel like a failure or get through all of them and not even take time to breathe.

Don’t be anxious. The holidays don’t have to be stressful and a long stream of events, leaving you exhausted and burnt out in the new year. Here is a simple, 4-step process to help you focus on the holiday activities that bring the most meaning and value to your life and the lives of your kids.

How to make room for the most important holiday activities

  1. Take some time to sit down and think back through your childhood. What are the traditions you want to continue with your kids? Write them down. Don’t forget to ask your spouse!
  2. Pick out the activities that would make your heart ache if you didn’t get to do them this year. I’m talking about the ones that are so much fun or carry so much meaning that you’d be heartbroken if it was taken away from you.
  3. Figure out roughly how much time each activity would take. (Then double or triple it. Because we all know that a trip out with kids takes double or triple the time we think it will.)
  4. Look at your calendar. How much time do you have available?
  5. You may have to cut some activities. If you want to do four activities that take up a total of 20 hours but you only have one weekend available, something’s gotta give (and don’t let it be your sanity).

My holiday activities this year

I decided that the activities that are most important to me are doing an advent calendar (10 minutes to find and print it out, 5 minutes every morning), putting up the Christmas tree (2 hours) and buying and watching some holiday classics (1 hour shopping online, 3 hours total to watch, spread out over a couple of days).

That’s not a whole lot of time, and it’s definitely doable. There are many things I dropped to be able to make room for what’s important to me (baking cookies, doing holiday crafts, spending lots of time shopping and researching gifts).

Here’s the thing…

This seems to be a secret that we all know but we all forget: you can always add more. Let’s say the stars align and the weather is great and your toddler finds his shoes and puts his coat on without a meltdown. You have a glorious weekend filled with all of your favorite holiday activities. What now? You can always go back to your master list and plan a few more.

Let yourself be the rockstar. Let yourself plan a few activities and be the cool and calm mom you are while creating memories for both you and your kids. Give yourself the gift of fully being present in your child’s life as their eyes get wide in excitement. Take pictures (both with your camera and with your mind). Put them in a safe place to recall when times get tough or when babies grow up.

You can always add more.

Action Steps

  1. Write a list of activities you’d like to do.
  2. Pick the best ones.
  3. Estimate the time (then double it).
  4. Look at your calendar to see if they fit.
  5. Cull if necessary. (Remember: You can always add more later.)

What are your favorite holiday activities and traditions? What are the important ones you’re prioritizing this year?

How to show gratitude for a miserable day

I see you, Mama. You had a rough day, the kind where nothing went right. Your baby projectile vomited all over the living room carpet. While cleaning that up, your toddler managed to get into the linen closet and pull out every single sheet, pillow case and towel. Dinner burnt, bedtime was chaos, and now you’re sitting on the couch, completely spent, staring aimlessly at your phone.

At this point, gratitude is probably the farthest thing from your mind. You’d like to complain, drink wine, or stress eat, not put a smile on and be thankful for the day you just had. “How can I be thankful? Today was so horrible, I can’t even…”

How to show gratitude after a lousy day

 

Take 5

Take five minutes to sit and think back through the day. Remember that goofy face your toddler made? What about that cute little messy face after eating lunch?

Pick 3

Find three things that you are grateful for. Often, you will get on a roll and find more. I try to find one thing I’m grateful for that my son did that day, one thing I’m grateful for about my husband and one thing I’m grateful for about myself.

Be specific

Why are you grateful for this person or thing? I’m grateful for how my son called me up on his pretend phone (his hand) and said “Boop boop boop boop” (that’s him dialing) “Hello, Mommy?” I’m grateful for the way my sheets feel on my feet at the end of a long day.

It can be easy to get into a routine of saying things we’re obviously grateful for: our kids, our spouse, our home, etc. What specifically do you appreciate about that person? What was something they did today that made your life a little better?

Remember the basics

Ok, so there are some days when even coming up with three things is nearly impossible. Your child was screaming all day and you got in a big fight with your husband. On those days, think about the foundational things you can be grateful for, that people around the world go without. These could include:

  • A bed to sleep in
  • Four walls and a roof to keep out the weather
  • Living in a safe area
  • Having clean water to drink
  • Having food to eat
  • Being healthy
  • Having air to breathe
  • Having the gift of life for one more day

These are basic things that we take for granted. Just remember that for each of these things, someone somewhere on this earth was not so lucky. I know it’s grim, but it’s the reality. You have been given so many amazing gifts and all it takes is five minutes to appreciate them and realize that they are actually gifts.

“The days are long but the years are short.” – Gretchen Rubin

I love this quote because it reminds me how fleeting and temporary life is. Babies grow up and move out of the house. They stop thinking mom is the coolest person alive.

This season of your life might be incredibly tough and you’re doing all you can to survive. But it doesn’t take any money or much time to be grateful for what you have.

What are you grateful for?

If you have a chance, I’d love to hear in the comments below what you’re grateful for.

Action Item

When you’re laying in bed tonight, rather than worrying about how much you have to do, take five minutes to think of three things that happened today that you’re grateful for.

 

5 Ways to Save Time This Thanksgiving

5 ways to save time this ThanksgivingThanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. To me, it’s always been about eating good food with the people I love. Now that I am a mom, I’ve started brainstorming ways I can provide a memorable holiday for my family without spending the whole day in the kitchen.

Here are 5 ways to save time on Thanksgiving dinner without cutting corners:

Be intentional about your sides.

Do you really need 15 side dishes to enjoy the holiday? Think back on all the sides you’ve had throughout the years. Pick five or so that bring up the most warm fuzzies and forget the rest.

Use a mixture of homemade and store-bought sides.

Once you figure out the sides that are most important to you, decide which ones are worth the effort to make at home. Have an age-old recipe for stuffing that uses a secret ingredient? Make it at home. Think the supermarket’s coleslaw or cranberry sauce tastes about the same? Go ahead and buy it. (If you’re cunning, you could put it in a crystal dish so no one knows the difference.)

Cook whole chickens instead of turkey.

Did you know that baking a whole chicken tastes completely different than when you just bake the breast or the thigh? A few weeks ago, we cooked whole chickens for dinner, and I was surprised at home much it reminded me of turkey. Add to that the fact that it only takes 90 minutes to cook (turkeys take 3-4 hours to cook — on top of defrosting it for 4-5 days!). Since chickens are much smaller, you can cook what you need, saving you the agony of eating turkey leftovers for the whole week.

Involve your kids.

Okay, so maybe this tip doesn’t help you save time. But it can turn something tedious into a bonding moment. When I cook with my two year old, he gets to stir, mush, and chop (with my help)…but mostly he eats little pieces of vegetables I sneak his way. He loves being involved, and while it can greatly lengthen the time it takes to complete a task, it makes for some of my favorite memories.

Set intentions.

Be clear about what Thanksgiving is all about. Family, friends, love, spending time together — that’s what Thanksgiving means to me. My friend shared about her year spent in The Gambia. On Thanksgiving, they gathered together and ate tacos. Thanksgiving is not about the what, it’s about the who. It’s about taking time to strengthen the bonds you’ve created with loved ones.

I hope this post inspired you to create a memorable holiday that both you and your family will enjoy! What are your tips for saving time on Thanksgiving dinner?

7 Reasons to Keep a Tidy House

7 Reasons to Keep a Tidy HouseI’m a naturally messy person. I don’t clean in my free time or get excited when spring cleaning comes around. But in the last year of keeping my house relatively tidy, I’ve learned to love having a tidy home, and I think you will too. Here’s why:

7 reasons to keep a tidy house

1. A tidy house saves time.

Can you imagine how much time you would save if you weren’t always looking for your keys? I used to spend 10-15 minutes before leaving the house because I couldn’t find my wallet, phone or keys…or all three. Even if you only leave the house once a day, that’s over one hour every week wasted.

2. It can relieve stress.

It’s true, clutter can actually add to the amount of stress in your life, as well as making you distracted and less productive.

3. It takes less time to clean.

Sounds backwards, but things are so much quicker to clean when you do a little bit at a time. Just think about the time invested rinsing off a dish as soon as dinner is over versus trying to scrape that stuff off in the morning.

4. It teaches your kids good habits.

If your kids are used to throwing dirty socks on the floor, it can be a good habit for them to learn simple techniques to pick up after themselves. This is an important skill to have out in public or later on in the workplace.

5. It lessens the amount you have to clean.

To piggy back on #4, if kids know the proper place to put dirty socks, that’s two less dirty socks you have to pick up. For one child, that could mean 730 less socks to pick up every year! Teach them to clean off their dinner plate or put away their toys, you could save yourself from bending over thousands of times each year.

6. It allows you to get messy.

My son didn’t finger paint until he was 2.5 years old. Partially because he would put his fingers in his mouth, but also because my kitchen table was a hoarding zone for important bills and documents as well as junk mail and unread magazines. Everything that came in landed on the kitchen table. Do you think I would let my son finger paint (or do anything messy) on a table that had things like the yet to be paid electric bill? No! So imagine my surprise when I realized that having a clean table actually allows us to do more messy things. If paint gets on the table? No problem, just wipe it up.

7. They’re only young once.

This reason makes me tear up. We’ve been entrusted with these babies, who in the blink of an eye will be out the door on their way to college. We have these short short years to mold our children into decent human beings and to enjoy all of the snuggles and hugs while they’re young enough to think mom is cool. The main reason to keep a tidy house is to spend less time cleaning and more time jumping in piles of leaves or making hot chocolate on cold days. After all, as the old saying goes, “Home is where the heart is.” It’s not about living in a house that is so spotless you’re afraid to breathe. It’s about creating a home that is loving and warm and allows you to do the things you want to do.

Action item

Your action item today is to throw out one item that is no longer needed. This may be one item of junk mail or that spatula with the broken handle. Go around your house and pick just one thing.

What is the one thing you threw out?

9 Ways to Reduce Stress (That Don’t Involve Food)

9 ways to reduce stress (that don't involve food)Dear Mama,

I see you working on your third bowl of ice cream of the day. I know you’re stressed out about finances and a toddler who is deep into the temper tantrum twos, and I know that sometimes food is the only thing that gives you a little bit of relaxation. But any sort of benefit derived from junk food is short-lived and is a form of self-sabotage against your goal to lose weight.

So, today, I’d like to give you a few ways you can reduce stress with little spare time or money on your hands.

9 ways to reduce stress that don’t involve food

  1. Not only does dancing lower your stress levels, but it also includes exercise (see #6) and listening to great music (see #8).
  2. Prayer can reduce stress, help the body heal faster and lead to lower levels of depression.
  3. Deep breathing tells your brain to calm down, which in turn tells your body to calm down.
  4. Spending time outside helps with stress reduction by allowing you to get a little exercise (see #6), absorb some sunshine, encounter neighbors or have friendly small talk with strangers, and gives you peaceful time to process your thoughts.
  5. Spending time with loved ones: Okay, so your child can be a source of stress. But taking time to do a fun activity as a family can help to lower stress as well as strengthen bonds.
  6. Exercise has shown to lessen some symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  7. Meditation can boost your emotional well-being, as well as reduce stress. And since it often incorporates deep breathing (see #3), it’s a double!
  8. Listening to slow-paced music can help you calm down, with the possibility of inducing sleep. Even if the music is not slow paced, music is a powerful mood changer.
  9. Yoga incorporates deep breathing (see #3) and exercise (see #6). It promotes overall well-being.

There are many ways to relieve stress that don’t involve self-sabotaging your goals. Often times, these healthy stress reducers are longer lasting. Pick one, or a few, to try out. See what works best for you. Find the thing that allows you to reduce stress while continuing to walk forward in your journey.

Action Step

Today, I want you to spend 5 minutes doing something you love. It can be reading an old favorite, or adding more stitches to that scarf. It can be five minutes of the gentle yoga stretches you never get around to doing because you don’t have time for a full routine.

Pick one thing and spend just five minutes doing it.

How did you spend those five glorious minutes?

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