My son is three and a half years old, and to be honest, it’s really hard. Three year olds are at that age when the swing from adorable angel to tantrum-throwing tyrant is about a millisecond. No matter what age your child or how many you have, being a parent is serious work and it doesn’t take long to feel run down, empty, and exhausted.
It’s hard to keep giving when if feels like you have nothing left to give. This is why self-care is so important. When you feel like your needs are met, it becomes easier to care for others.
Here are some tips to starting self-care routines:
- Make the time. Before self-care can happen, you have to make the time for it. Sometimes it will be after the kids are in bed or during naps. But there will be days when you have to make the time. Call a babysitter, relative, or mom friend. Hand control over to your spouse/partner and walk away. Or when all else fails, plop that kid in front of a screen and do what you need to do.
- Let it go. It can be tempting to load the dishwasher or finally fold the pile of laundry, I am guilty of this more often than I like. But a messy house isn’t important if your running on empty and need some “me” time. So the next time you have the opportunity for a long bath or some trash TV and some wine, jump on it and ignore the stuff that doesn’t matter.
- Pay attention to what you need. What is feeling run down? Are you so sleepy you feel like you’ll pass out? Are you itching to talk to another adult? Do you have hobbies that you feel inspired by but haven’t had a moment to create? Are you feeling disconnected from your spouse? Do you just need some peace and quiet? Self-care is all about giving yourself what you need.
- Don’t stress about how you spend your time. Even if you pinpoint what you need, don’t sweat it too much. Sometimes I get stuck in the mindset that I need to use my self-care time for “good for me” activities like yoga or reading or writing. Those activities can be super beneficial and a great way to take care of ourselves, but there are days when sitting on the couch with junk food and a movie is just what I need. And that’s okay. Self-care doesn’t have to mean that you’re doing something healthy for your body, sometimes it means indulging on junk to feed your soul.
- Add sneaky self-care into your day. There are plenty of small pleasures that can make it so much easier to get through the day. It could be a favorite treat, like eating a chocolate when the kids are screaming. Or using a lotion that smells amazing and taking a moment to breathe it in. Sometimes we all go to the park together and even though I’m still watching my son, getting outdoors is a great way to give yourself some love. Adding these little “hugs” to yourself throughout the day can make especially long and busy days more manageable.
Don’t know where to start? Check out these simple and easy self-care ideas:
- Watch a movie
- Have a glass of wine or hot cocoa
- Take a bubble bath
- Read a book
- Write in a journal
- Doodle in a sketchbook
- Go shopping (online or in person)
- Get a massage or mani/pedi
- Eat at your favorite restaurant
- Go out with some friends
- Date night
- Put on a full face of makeup or do your hair
- Go for a walk
- Go to a favorite place, like the beach
- Take a nap
- Read a magazine
- Have a snack
- Just sit and be!
Go give yourself some love!