Updated: Apr 30, 2021
As a working mother, I’m sure you pour a lot of yourself into your family and work; your do-do-list consists of homework, meetings, commutes, laundry, and any other tasks expected of you, often making it really easy to forget about your own needs. Whilst keeping up with all your chores and deadlines is a great badge of honour to wear, unfortunately, if left for too long, neglecting your own personal needs can eventually make you feel drained and stressed. Here’s where self-care comes in.
Self-care doesn’t have to be a weekend away at a boujee spa hotel or require you to change your whole life, it’s something that can be practised in as little as 5 minutes, in your own home, when it suits you best. In today’s post, I will be discussing why it’s important to commit to some form of self-care and share some ideas on ways you can incorporate it into your lifestyle.
Why the need
There are many things that fall under the umbrella of self-care practices, but basically they are decisions and actions taken to enhance health, limit illness, and restore a person’s wellbeing. These sorts of tasks don’t have to be prescribed, but just allow people to be in their own control when it comes to shaping the circumstances that influence their overall wellbeing. Self-care behaviours can have a positive impact on self-esteem, relationships, overall health, and increased productivity (1,2).
Of course self-care is a universal need for everyone, but where working mothers are concerned, studies show that working women still carry out more home/family duties compared to men (3,4,5). With working mothers experiencing higher individual stress, work-family conflict, work engagement, and lower life satisfaction than working fathers (6), a little pick-me-up here and there becomes a necessity to offset life’s demands and restore one’s energy resource.
Because of the subjective nature of self-care itself, it will be difficult to cover every example of self-care out there, so in this post, I will be focusing on 7 examples that won’t require a substantial amount of time and/or money, as I know these are the common reasons why mums will often put-off deliberate self-care practises.
This one I believe should be essential in everyone’s lifestyle. I have previously written a detailed post with ideas and explanations on the benefits. But for the busy mum, who is really pressed for time, simply punching in “10 minute workout” on YouTube and following a video regime is a really easy way to get your exercise on, or even going for a run around in the park with your little ones to get your heart pumping can also do the trick. The NHS recommends doing at least 75 minutes of rigorous exercise every week (7), so if you can carve out even 10 minutes every day when the kids are preoccupied with a TV show or having a nap, you will be smiling.
Another one that should be prioritised, I get it though, children especially the really young ones can keep you up in the middle of the night, which is why I used to go to bed at 8 pm knowing very well that I was going to be woken up at roughly midnight. Also, if it’s your thing, creating a lovely bedtime experience can also be a part of self-care. By this, I mean using a pillow mist spray/diffuser for a bit of aromatherapy, or a heated blanket so you have a warm bed to curl up into, are both examples of how you can create a self-indulgent experience without having to splurge or go the extra mile.
At home pampering
Instead of just having a shower, why not also exfoliate your skin from time to time. Instead of just creaming yourself with a regular lotion, why not opt for something scented, the same can also be said for your hair care range. You can even take it a step further and ask your partner to massage body oil into your skin or make a small investment in a body roller. There are many ways to pamper yourself at home, the point is to do something for yourself that makes you feel good even just for a short while.
If at some point you feel like something has to give, take a break, and this is where your networking skills come in. If you are regularly offering help to a close family member or a friend, chances are they will be more than happy to help you with a babysitting request when you need it. But remember when offering help, you mustn’t take on anything that will lead you to burnout.
Books and music
Getting stuck into a good book, an audiobook, a podcast, or even a playlist during your commute to work is another example of self-indulging without having to worry about finding time. Stories and music have a unique way of touching us, and with these examples, you get to feel moved whilst on the move.
Time with loved ones
We are still a long way off being able to gather like we used to, but even catching up with family/friends via WhatsApp/Instagram/Google/Skype or whichever video conferencing platform of your choice, is a cost-effective way of refuelling your soul. The catch-ups, the games, the memories you get to reminisce about and laugh at have such a positive impact on your wellbeing, you almost never walk away regretting the link-up.
Keeping a journal
Diarising your day or week is another activity you can do for yourself. Not only do you get to document anything positive that’s happened to you, but you also get to explore any negative emotions you’ve experienced. By getting things off your chest, you give yourself the opportunity to hash out any negative emotions so they're no longer following you around, and if you ever have a bad day, you can always open your diary and remind yourself of all the positive things you have done that you are proud of.
You can write for as little as 2 minutes a day, and again can do this whilst your children are distracted or having a nap.
As you can see, self-care doesn’t have to be grand at all, and when you get to the bottom of it, it’s really just you treating yourself with the same conscious level of care you would your own children. You help raise their level of self-esteem, you make sure they are eating healthy meals, you give them treats now and then, and you avoid anything that may harm them.
I understand that even the thought of starting many of the suggestions mentioned can seem quite tedious, but once you get into the swing of things, I promise you will be glad you took the leap. I purposely chose to discuss small and sustainable changes to demonstrate how even a slight shift in your routine can lead to big changes, changes that can be good for everyone around you especially yourself.