There is no doubt that Mom life is a busy life. Throw homeschooling into the mix and things can easily go from busy to overwhelming. Having your children home with you when most kids are off at school can make tackling that to-do list all the more challenging. So how can we practice self-care in our already busy lives?
Not only do you take care of the home, do the laundry, prepare meals, and parent your kids all day, every day (and that’s just the tip of the iceberg), but you are also responsible to plan, prepare for and oversee their education. But what about taking care of YOU? Where does that fall on your list of priorities and tasks to complete?
I know, I KNOW!! I can imagine your immediate thought – I just don’t have TIME for self-care! I get it, I am right there with you momma! But as the popular mantra goes – you can’t fill others from an empty cup. And as cliche as that is, it is also very true.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve pushed myself past the breaking point. Honestly, I’m horrible about self-care. When I’m not doing things I am convinced I need to be doing, it gives me anxiety. I beat myself up for not getting enough done or not feeling the energy or motivation I think I should. But here’s the thing momma – I am the one placing those expectations on myself. I am the one that wants the house to be tidy and clean. I am the one that thinks if I’m not on top of every little thing, then I’m failing my family. But do you know what? My family doesn’t really care whether or not the house is clean (in fact their standards of cleanliness are much different than mine). My kids would much rather cuddle up on the sofa with me and watch a family movie, or play a game all together than have a tidy home. I would confidently bet that at least some of the standards you hold yourself up to are self-imposed as well.
So, that being said – we need to make time in the day-to-day busyness of life for self-care. Even Jesus reminded his disciples to take time out from their very important ministry to tend to their basic needs – rest being one, as well as food and time spent connecting to God.
Then because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.Mark 6:31-32 NIV
Even the Lord Himself rested on the seventh day! If God needs rest from His great Work, then we need rest even more!
So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.Hebrews 4:9-11 ESV
But I would say we need to do even more to nourish and feed our body, heart, mind, and soul. We spend so much of our time tending to the needs and desires of others. We need to also make time to pursue those things that bring us joy or help us relax or unwind after a long day. Hobbies are a worthy pursuit! Whether you enjoy sewing, scrapbooking, baking, riding (horses, motorcycles, whatever), writing, reading, or simply spending time with dear friends – making time for those things help fill us up when we feel like we are running on empty. If we fill ourselves with joy and peace, will our homes and families not also be joyful and peaceful?!
Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.– 1 Peter 3:4 NIV
It is very difficult to go about our daily routines in a peaceful and joyful manner if we are not getting rest when it is needed. If we are not eating well, if we are not spending time with God, if we are not feeding our spirit with the meat of the Word and through prayer, if we are not spending time doing things that bring us joy, relaxation and peace – we are less able to give our husbands and children the best version of ourselves!
I am not a good momma, nor am I very pleasant to be around, when I am tired, hurting or ill, stressed, not eating right, or feeling overwhelmed. I am much more likely to “flesh out” on those that I love the most when I am not taking care of myself. And then I feel REALLY awful because I know I shouldn’t act that way and it is hurtful to others. If you take a moment to examine your own interactions with your family, you may recognize a similar pattern. And that’s ok! Because God doesn’t want you to keep going this way, He loves you and wants you to take care of yourself so that you can tend those He has given over to your care.
So how can we practice self-care when our days are already so full? It doesn’t have to be a large chunk of time, but even ten minutes a day is better than nothing. Here are a few suggestions.
- Get extra rest when you feel run down physically. Anyone who knows me will tell you – I love a good afternoon nap! Sometimes I will go weeks without the opportunity, other times I will take a nap three days in a row – but when I can I nap. Sometimes I will take a couple hours on a weekend day while my husband is home. Sometimes I will scratch some things off my to-do list and nap when my toddler naps. This is especially important if you live with an illness or chronic pain as I do. Listen to your body and give yourself permission to rest – and don’t you dare feel guilty about it! That pile of dishes can wait.
- Get creative with your devotions, There are all kinds of websites, apps, and audio Bibles available to us. If you need more time to cultivate your relationship with the Lord listen to a Bible passage or devotional while you do household chores or while you cook. Find a good Christian audiobook and listen when you can throughout your day. Find a teacher you like and listen to a sermon recording on TV or online while you fold laundry or drive to the grocery store. A single minute spent filling up your spiritual tank will have a positive effect on the rest of your day.
- Make sure you have a good selection of healthy foods you enjoy and if needed – set an alarm to remind you to eat. Now some of you may be saying wait – you forget to eat?! This may not be a problem for most people, but when I get busy I just don’t think about eating until I am so hungry I start to feel weak or sluggish. I operate best when I have several small meals or healthy snacks throughout the day (I am hypoglycemic). Figure out how much and how often you need to eat and make sure you do so.
- Set aside at least an hour every week for a hobby or fun activity. If you can find more time, great! It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant or expensive – reread a favorite book, watch a movie or show, draw, journal, sew… The what doesn’t matter as long as it’s something that you truly enjoy doing. This has an even better effect if you can find uninterrupted, quiet time for whatever you choose to do. For me, the hour or two after everyone is in bed is my wind-down time. I decorate a planner spread, blog, watch tv, and sometimes on the weekend I will stay up late and play video games with my husband – that’s a bonus hobby cause its also quality time with my best friend!
- Recruit your family to help you stay on track. This works better if you have older kids in the mix, because they can help pick up some of the slack when you need some down time. My 17yo son is such a blessing and often helps with my youngers when I am having a rough day with my back or my hip and need to rest. My 11yo son loves helping do dishes and other “big kid” chores. I can easily enlist my 6yo son to help with basic cleanup around the house if I make a game out of it. My husband often notices my shifts in demeanor when I am feeling run down before I do. It’s important that your family understands why it is important for you to take care of yourself and for them to be supportive of your endeavors to do so.
These are baby steps, even though I am sure it sounds like a lot to those of us who struggle in this area. These five practices alone will make a huge difference in your mood, energy, stress level, and the overall attitude in your home. It all starts with you momma. Make a plan to incorporate these practices into your days and stick to it, I promise you won’t regret it!
If you need ideas for making more time for self-care, check out my post “Time Saving Tips & Hacks for Homeschool Moms”