Our daughters (and sons) may be young, but they won’t be for long.
I’m amazed at what my daughter, at only two years old, soaks in daily. New words, new expressions, new connections. And there’s no one in the world she watches like she watches me.
The other night as I tucked her in, she was chattering away about bath time.
“Trenton take a bath WITH ME! Chase take a bath WITH ME!”
“Mommy have her OWN bath.”
You got that right, little lady.
She watches me. What I eat, how I dress, the tone I use with her siblings, the tone I use with her father. She’s my mini-me, and I want nothing more than to be the woman she needs me to be.
That starts with taking care of me. So that someday, when it’s her turn to be the bleary-eyed mother of a newborn, the bone-tired mother of a toddler, the mentally-drained mother of a teenager—she’ll know how to find her center again.
Just like she saw me do a thousand times.
Over the last couple of years, we’ve noticed the word “self-care” popping up everywhere. Every time I encounter it, I think to myself, Self-care isn’t just a list of things to do; it’s a state of mind.
It’s a lens through which you get to see your home, your family, your life.
It stems from an effort to love yourself, to guard your thoughts with care, and to hold your self-worth above everything else.
Self-care isn’t just something you do; it’s the way you think. It’s a way of life.
But of course, life has its special way of throwing us off—derailing us. The 24 practices below are not just more things add to your to-do list. (Heaven knows, I know you have plenty on your plate.) They’re simple practices to help you realign yourself, when the going gets tough, with that lens of self-love you want to see the world through.
24 Self-Care Practices for Mothers
1. Light a candle; breathe it in deeply and deliberately.
2. Read a book, especially one you know fills up your soul, like a conversation with an old friend.
3. Have a conversation with an old friend!
4. Climb into your child’s bed before the day even starts for a few minutes of cuddles. Do you know what even six seconds of physical touch can do for you?
5. Inhale deeply the moment you step outside your house. Notice how the morning air smells instead of rushing through it.
6. Create a touch point in your home or at work. A place where whenever you touch it you remind yourself to live in the moment. (Think: the door knob to your bedroom, the threshold of your front door.)
7. Take two minutes to reminisce, either with your kids or on your own, about a fond memory.
“Our dopamine output increases not only when we experience something pleasurable the first time, but again when we remember it… [By reminiscing] we and our children can enjoy more of what we already have.” Goldie Hawn, 10 Mindful Minutes
8. Write about what you’re grateful for in a journal.
9. Start a daily gratitude practice with your family by sharing at the dinner table one thing you were thankful for that day.
10. Take a hot shower or bath. (That’s right, baby girl. Mama has her OWN bath!) Make it more special by lighting a candle, using your favorite scents, or playing mellow music. #itsthelittlethings
11. Do a thought download. (It feels good to get it all out!)
12. Try a new make-up technique; it feels good to step outside of your usual routine.
13. Say a prayer before you turn the keys in the ignition. Pray anytime, obviously, but a friend once told me this particular moment is a natural one for her, and I agree. Maybe it will be for you too.
14. Buy a houseplant. Seeing green inside your space every day is surprisingly revitalizing.
15. Try five minutes of meditation. I’m a big fan of the Headspace app.
16. Write in your journal. And remember that there’s no formula for journal writing. Jot down a bulleted list, write about your day, write about how you feel, write a single sentence—just write. (This is a particularly beautiful journal for self-acceptance: Start Where You Are.)
“A word after a word after a word is power.” Margaret Atwood
17. Exercise. Extra credit if you get outside or listen to music that makes you love life.
18. Rub lotion into your hands or feet before you go to sleep.
19. Unplug from social media for as long as you need.
20. To be more specific, unplug completely from the internet one day a week, like Sundays.
21. Hold a warm drink with both hands.
22. Set a weekly intention. Need some mantras to try out? 12 Mantras for Moms Who Want to Love More
23. Schedule some daytime babysitting to do something you rarely do. Like getting a drink at Starbucks and people watching from the window or going to the nearest body of water (my pick is the ocean!) and sticking your feet in.
24. Take a walk, and spend a couple of minutes focusing on a single sensation, like the wind on your face or the way your foot connects with the ground.
Let’s do it for us. Let’s do it for our daughters.
PS. I think top-notch self-care is essential for introverts! We need time away from the chaos of life, and we need to make that time really count. We’ve got to keep our souls filled. If you’re an introvert, I’d love to send you a PDF of 12 key tips for introverted parents, from introverted parents.
photo credit: Tevi Hardy Photography