Prioritizing Self-Care For Moms (Because Self-Care Isn’t Selfish)

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Prioritizing self-care as a mom isn’t a luxury – but a necessity. Yet still, self-care always seems to take a backseat due to the magnitude of responsibilities we are juggling and the crippling mom guilt. 

Speaking to my friend, who is a therapist, I was surprised to find out that many moms don’t know how to fit self-care into their lifestyle or feel guilty doing so. It’s like therapy is okay, but sitting down for a little and reading a book is not.

I am a firm believer that self-care isn’t selfish, and we should try to make it happen however we can. Even small acts of self-care can decrease feelings of exhaustion, burnout, stress, and depression (1). Let’s explore the importance of self-care with practical tips to help make yourself a priority. Self-care isn’t selfish – we need it to prevent burnout and be better moms for out children.

The Benefits of Self-Care As a Mom

  • Lower levels of stress, which can reduce the risk of medical conditions such as heart disease, obesity, and high blood pressure (2). 
  • Higher self-esteem and self-perception.
  • Self-care can feel like a recharge, and illicit more positive feelings. 
  • It models healthy habits for our children.
  • Neglecting your own needs can lead to burnout and fatigue, impacting your ability to care for your loved ones. Burnout has been linked to depression, irrational feelings and increased likeliness of lashing out at others. 
  • A healthy mom is more equipped to handle the demands of parenting.
  • Improved mental health.
  • Helps to maintain a sense of identity beyond motherhood. 
Self-Care Isn't Selfish; mental load of motherhood

What Qualifies as Self-Care?

What qualifies as self-care? In my opinion, there isn’t an exact definition. The question should really be: what is self-care to you? What do you feel like you need in your life to function better as a mom, to feel more fulfilled, and make yourself a priority sometimes?

I like to say my workouts qualify as self-care, but many moms feel like this should just be a part of their daily lifestyle. Therefore, the act of self-care may vary from person to person. Need some ideas? Check out these 50 free ideas for taking care of yourself

Those Feelings of Mom Guilt- Always Getting in the Way

Mom guilt – what a complex and challenging topic in itself. A 2018 study found that those feelings of burnout are rooted in the tendency to over-invest in the parental role, with a desire to be “perfect” and a sense of responsibility for their child’s future. 

Moms often experience an overwhelming amount of pressure which can lead to physical and emotional exhaustion. Maintaining the responsibilities towards their house and their children feels impossible. This led to the moms in the study emotionally distancing themselves from their children, and caused them to lose control – either verbally or physically.

Further, with social media comes all these unrealistic expectations. Cutely cut sandwiches, perfect outfits, moms who actually put makeup on and do there hair everyday. Diane Yanke, LMSW, states that trusting yourself is key: perhaps, if moms made their own rules and trusted their love and efforts, their would be little guilt to feel.  

self-care as a mom quote - prioritizing ourselves to be better moms

Self-Care As a Mom: Tips and Strategies to Try

Get Comfortable with Other People Having Emotions

One of the main reasons moms don’t prioritize themselves is the constant worry about someone else’s emotions and how taking time for yourself is going to affect other people. Does your husband or toddler give you a hard time when you try to complete simple tasks for yourself?

It’s hard to accept, but it’s okay for them to have these feelings – your needs are important too. Just remember all the self-care benefits that are listed above.

Lower Expectations

You’ll likely never find that “perfect” balance when becoming a mom – it just doesn’t really exist anymore. However, my whole brand of “Moderately Messy” is finding a balance that works for you.

This means that you might have to lower your expectations. How can you have a clean house all the time, while being a present mom AND prioritizing the self-care you need? 

What is one thing you an let go, to allow more time for yourself? For example, I used to always have to have all the toys put away and the playroom cleaned every night. I realized that was an unrealistic expectation, and instead just put all the toys in the playroom and accepted that it was going to be a mess. That was one “expectation” that I decided wasn’t worth my time- other things were more of a priority. 

Once you can learn to accept this, those feelings of stress and disappointment will decrease.

Normalize Boundaries and Breaks

Understand your limits and become comfortable with saying no when necessary. Setting realistic boundaries can help prevent moms from feeling overwhelmed. 

An example of a boundary I continue to have to this day is making time for self-care during naptime. I try my hardest to get as much as I can done while my kids are wake, often multi-tasking like crazy to do so, just to get an hour or two to myself while they are sleeping. 

Set a Timer

So if making time for yourself during nap time just gives you more stress, knowing that you have things to get done – try setting a timer. This strategy allows for some self-care during that timeframe, and when the timer goes off – it’s back to your to-do list. 

This way, you can prioritize a little me time while also being productive, and not feel quite as guilty.

Be Efficient and Stay Organized

Lists, lists and more lists – they help us stay organized and remember all that we have to do. Even scheduling the whole day can help with finding those pockets of time to schedule in a self-care routine that you can stick with. 

Multi-tasking can lead to more efficiency – are there ways you can be more efficient with your day so there is more “free time”? Maybe it’s wearing your baby more to get chores done, or letting your kids play get messy with kinetic sand so you can meal prep.

Another idea, especially if you’re a working mom, might need be to “schedule” your me time in a daily planner. We use a shared family calendar app, called TimeTree, which is a game-changer! My husband can see whenever I add an event, even if it’s some time for myself. 

daily checklist for moms self-care as moms

Pick 3 things

Try the “3 things” strategy, where you choose 3 things a day that will help you feel more like yourself. These could be very small pockets of time, but essential to your health and well-being.  

Is it a shower by yourself? Spending time getting ready in the morning? Working out? Reading a book? Laying down and scrolling through TikTok? Is it getting out of the house?

Lean On Your Support System

Don’t allow that mom guilt to consume you when you want some time to yourself. This is something that I struggled with – but asking for help from others is OKAY! Whether it’s family, your husband, or hired childcare- even for a short amount of time. 

After being a stay-at-home mom for two years, I finally said to my husband “I need to get out of the house by myself one day a week”. It was time, and so we worked it out – every Thursday, I would just go somewhere even if it was a quick run to the grocery store. I only wish I would have done it sooner. 

Prioritize Your Self-Care – However You Can

  • Set your baby up right outside the shower, with some toys or even an Ipad with Ms. Rachel playing. Figure out what distracts your baby and make it work!
  • Some moms find that waking up earlier than their kids leads to a more productive day. Whether this is showering and getting ready for the day, drinking coffee, listening to a podcast, planning and organizing, or a quick workout. 
  • Utilize baby wearing to get some chores done around the house so you can rest during nap time.
  • Workout WITH your toddler, for quality time and fitness, or try mini-workouts throughout the day
  • Allow your children to play independently while you get some work done – let them be bored, which has been shown to increase awareness and imagination.
  • It bears repeating – but Ms. Rachel! Don’t feel guilty about a little educational screen-time, get those chores done and that self-care in where you can. 
  • Enlist your kids to help you with chores – teaching them responsibility. Turn on their favorite music or make it into a fun game for them. 
kids helping with chores to prioritize self care for moms

Embracing the Moderately Messy

I understand that some of these tips won’t work for everyone – and prioritizing self-care is very much dependent on the mom, their lifestyle, their support system, and of course- their children’s temperament and needs. 

Remember that prioritizing self-care is not a luxury but a necessity for you and your family’s well-being. By taking time to yourself, you’re not only ensuring your own happiness but setting a positive example for your children. Remind yourself that you deserve it!

It’s all part of the Moderately Messy lifestyle – where it’s not about perfection, just striving for more balance and order amidst the chaos. 

What has worked for you to prioritize self-care as a mom? If you have any other ideas, please comment! 

1 thought on “Prioritizing Self-Care For Moms (Because Self-Care Isn’t Selfish)”

  1. What an awesome and timely article on the value and importance of self-care for moms. Being a mom is a full-time job and a half and taking time to refill our own cup is instrumental since we’re responsible for taking care of others. One thing I often hear is that self-care is expensive or time-consuming so I gathered 50 free self-care ideas that are easy to do and free! https://pantearahimian.com/self-care-on-a-budget-50-free-ideas-for-taking-care-of-yourself/

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