Having a toddler at home can be the most amazing and rewarding experience. Watching their little minds and bodies grow and learn is magical. You feel blessed to be a mom 80% of the time — but the other 20% that involves the disciplining, the “now, where did I put that” moments and the eventual begging of “please just eat your vegetables” — well, it’s more than a little draining.
That’s why self-care as a mom is essential to your well-being and your family’s, but who has the time? The truth is, you have to do your best to make it a priority even if that means making a few (more) sacrifices to make sure it happens. These tips will help you get in that important self-care each day — even on those days when you swear you gave birth to something evil.
Ask for Help
As a mother, you may have a hard time asking for help or even allowing someone to help you. You know what’s best for your kid, and someone else might just do it wrong. This is understandable, but you’re only punishing yourself.
Ask someone you trust for help and then let them help. Step away and let them make the decisions and take care of your baby while you soak in a bubble bath or take a quick nap. You won’t be away more than an hour or two, and it will really do you some good.
Have a Shoulder to Cry On
There are bad days in parenting — and then there are terrible days. Those are the days you just want to wave the white flag of surrender as you let the tiny human rule the house. Those are also the days when you need a shoulder to cry on and a listening ear.
This could be in the form of your spouse, a best friend, a parent or even an online community where you can just get it all off of your chest. This mothering thing isn’t for sissies, and you can’t do it alone.
Be realistic about what you expect from yourself and your child. Setting expectations that are unreasonable will just cause you more stress in the long run when things don’t go as planned. Were you a little late to the playdate? Did your munchkin spill milk all down the front of their front and down your pant leg? It’s ok.
Additionally, you might want to try limiting the number of errands in a given day. For instance, go on two and make them a bit fun rather than trying to cram in all five stops.
No matter what, don’t cram so much in your day that it’s overwhelming and stressful.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep — it’s the most important thing mothers need and one of the hardest things to come by. Maybe your child is waking up during the night still, or maybe you use those late hours as stolen moments to binge-watch Netflix. No matter how you spend your night, if you aren’t sleeping, you need to make a change.
You can’t control if your child wakes during the night, but you can do other things to try to help yourself get enough rest. Have a relaxation routine before bed that helps you shut your mind off and forget about the day. Turn of the computer and the television. While you’re at it, put down your cell phone. Research shows that just ten minutes of screen time can cause you to lose a full hour of sleep.
Try to schedule your day so you can get to bed at a decent hour and get around eight hours of sleep each night.
You may not be able to get away for a full hour or two each day, but you can take mini-breaks. It’s okay to put your toddler safely in their room or even in their crib and step away for 10 to 15 minutes.
Don’t spend the time doing anything for anyone else but yourself. Practice some relaxing breathing techniques, take a quick shower, read a chapter of your favorite book, or just sit down and have some quiet time. 15 minutes.
Be in the Moment
When you are doing an activity or spending time with your child, really be there. Don’t be thinking about what else you have to do that day, how the day has gone wrong or your never ending list for tomorrow. Enjoy connecting with your child and relax.
By being mindful in the moment, you feel centered and relaxed. This is a great little tip for those days when you aren’t able to have a few moments to escape and refocus.
Have a Mom’s Night Out
If you can’t do this weekly, at least do it twice a month. Plan a girls’ night or even a night alone out of the house. The “away from the house” part is important — you need a night to not be a mom or a wife. Just be you.
If your spouse can’t watch the baby, ask other family or get a sitter. Then head out with the girls for some drinks, go shopping for yourself or watch a movie — without listening to crying and demands. It doesn’t matter what you choose as long as it’s for you and gets you out of the house.
Remember the Future
Huh? What does the future have to do with self-care? It sounds strange, yes, but by taking some time when you get overwhelmed to imagine the future, you spend a little time daydreaming on easier times to come.
As a bonus, you will probably be reminded that these terror years are fleeting and will end too quickly. You will be able to get back in the mothering game with a new — if only brief — perspective that helps you get through the day.
Remember that a healthy, happy you is more equipped to take care of your child and your family’s needs. Think of self-care as an investment you can’t afford to skip. Plan it, schedule it and do it. Pretty soon it will become routine.