Dance classes, piano lessons, trying to find time to throw together some sort of edible-but-healthy dinner the family will actually eat on a busy weeknight after staying late at work… the demands, stress and sheer expectations facing many parents these days means we could all use a little more self-care in our lives.
Finding time to actually practice it though? Well that’s a whole other story. Everyone knows parents never actually have time for real self-care. Not on a regular basis. How else do you suppose wine and coffee became a thing?
Well potable devices aside, we reached out to our networks of fellow frazzled parents for some practical ideas on how to make self-care more attainable. Together we came up with some genius, super simple ways to reclaim at least a few minutes in our days—just in time for those New Year’s resolutions.
Take a candlelit shower
No time for a bubble bath in your foreseeable future? Have a shower by candlelight instead—it totally changes the experience.
Invest in a 10-minute facial routine
Many moms we spoke with agreed the sheer act of washing your face can be a much needed pick-me-up. But when you add in a mask or exfoliator a couple of times a week (followed by an adult-type night cream), it’s a real game-changer.
Stock your nightstand with luxury products
You may not have time for a mani-pedi, but slathering on a high-quality hand- or foot-cream before bed will at least make you feel like you’re doing something good for yourself… and it will keep those digits hydrated during the bitter cold winter months.
Put on make-up
For some of us, putting on your face is the difference between feeling good and feeling great. Whether you grab 15 extra minutes before getting the kids out of bed or you build application time into your showering routine, finding a few minutes for some highlighter and mascara is golden.
Use the power of smell
Diffusers and essential oils are a mom staple these days, so why not put them to good use? A half an hour before bed set up a calming concoction in your room so that when you enter it’s a more serene, spa-like space. No time for diffusers? Invest in a lavender pillow spray. Or, in the morning spritz your favourite scent on your pressure points. It will help you feel at least a little more put together.
Invest in a home workout program
Many, many moms swore by this one. These days there are plenty of 20-30 minute programs available for parents with tots. Even though you’ll probably have to hit pause a few times, pushing through a home workout while the kids play around you still counts as a workout, but it’s more practical if you don’t have time for the gym.
No sweat if you don’t want to sweat. Some parents revealed their idea of “me” time is stretching out on those same mats we put out for our kids while they play nearby. It may not be full-out yoga, but even a few minutes of stretchy time can be totally relaxing as it forces you to breathe and be semi in-tune with your body.
Let your kids watch TV
Yes, yes, we know studies say no screens before two, but sometimes you just have to do what you have to do so that you can collect yourself. And if you have older kids? Some parents put an iPad on the guest bed so that in the mornings their kids can quietly watch a show nearby while they bank a little extra sleep.
Pretend you’re having tummy troubles
Yes, you read that right. You think your partner is the only one who can take 15 minutes to poop? Let’s be honest—we all want 15 minutes to sit on the toilet solo and scroll mindlessly through our phones. Take it already, and blame the takeout from last night. Your partner will be more likely to actually watch the kids instead of letting them barge in.
Fake a headache
One genius mom confided that she sometimes fakes a migraine just so that she can go lay down in peace. Whenever her husband comes in she pretends to be snoring. Yes, we know, honesty is the best policy, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
Make up errands
One partner usually does all of the running around, which is considered “solo” time, while the other partner watches the kids. Why not make it real solo time and spend an extra half an hour sitting down and relaxing while sipping on a hot coffee or eating cake? No one ever needs to know.
Have a pizza date night
You may not be able to hit the town for an actual dinner date, so bring the dinner date to you. Have a family meal (nibble on small portions of protein and veggies while the kids fill up) and when they go to bed dial up a pizza. Veg out and talk, or put on a movie you’ve been dying to see. (Bonus points if you make it all the way to the credits without crashing.)
Stand in the sun
Most homes and offices have that one golden spot where the sun beams in during a certain part of the day and makes everything nice and toasty. Stand in that spot for a few minutes, close your eyes and take a couple of deep, cleansing breaths. Trust us, there’s a reason the dog loves that patch of floor so much—it’s relaxing AF.
Have a dance party
If Meredith Grey can dance it out then so can you. Grab the kids and bust out a few moves to music that you all actually like. Just please leave Baby Shark on another playlist, for your own sanity.
Write down your worries
The mental load is one of the biggest stresses we have. And while gratitude journals are great, they can also become one more thing to remember to do. Instead, when you’re feeling particularly stressed out, set a timer for two or three minutes and write down every single worry you have. Then hide your list somewhere or cathartically destroy it.
Declutter one thing
Whether it’s a junk drawer, a countertop, a desk or a bookshelf, clutter adds up and can add to anxiety levels. While the kids are otherwise occupied, take 10-15 minutes to declutter a small space and feel your mind ease up a notch as a result.
Escape for a drink with a bestie
If you and your bestie live close, take turns randomly hosting each other for a small drink after the kids go to bed. Or, since we live in a technology driven world anyhow, plan to FaceTime or Skype your bestie with a drink in hand post-bedtime and have a good laugh together. Because who doesn’t need a little more laughter in their life?
The struggle is real.