Self-care has become a bit of a buzzword for parents these days, as we all like to sit in groups and ponder it but may not actually know what it means.
For some people, self-care instantly conjures up images of being alone in the bath, without tiny fingers creeping under the bathroom door and definitely with candles and maybe a fizzy bath bomb. For others, it might mean curling up with a book and pretending the rest of the world doesn’t exist.
For me, self-care is all about prioritizing my very real need to sometimes just be … alone. To that end, I love few things as much as I love taking one to three days off a few times a year to go out of town by myself.
Sometimes this is work-related, like if I’m going to a conference across the country, but other times it’s just time that I’ve dedicated to hanging out with my first best friend: me.
Because everyone has a different parenting journey, I had a hunch that everyone probably has a different approach to self-care. So I asked 10 moms what they do to prioritize self-care, either daily or just whenever they get a chance. Some of the responses will surprise you — they’re definitely a creative bunch.
1. Pee when you actually need to
Facebook/Holly's own photo
In a 100% relatable moment that moms around the world will get immediately, Holly had a particularly insightful self-care suggestion: “I do a lot of things for self-care now: daily walk outside, journaling, purposely reading, dates with the cute husband and so on.
“But there’s a unique one I have to remind myself about frequently. I promised myself a couple of years ago to go pee when I felt the urge. It’s such a simple act. I always felt I had to get to a good stopping point in whatever I was doing. Believe it or not, I find it bizarrely rewarding.”
2. Take a break from running the roost
Let’s face it: Moms end up doing a lot of the work around the home. Belly dancer Emerald shared that she loves to just not be in charge of … anything: “Just small things done at random when needed. Taking a bath with wine and watching Netflix. Occasionally going shopping alone and buying myself something small. And going to dance rehearsal every week where I can move my body, fuel creativity, and NOT be in charge.”
3. Find your people online
Mary has found great joy in chilling out with moms online: “I have an online mom group that started on Reddit and has since moved to Facebook. There are 120 of us, and we’ve been together for almost five years now. We talk daily and help each other through literally everything. They are a huge source of support for me, and we’ve been doing huge meetups for the past two years of just the moms.
“We’ve done smaller meetups with the kids which are fun, too. There’s just something about being around 25+ of your closest friends from all over the world who know more about you than most of your closest IRL friends or family, and being totally carefree and having fun.”
4. Plan relaxing outings WITH your family
Alix said that her idea of self-care isn’t about alone time — it’s about connecting with her husband and son in different ways: “I feel like it was hard for me to figure out what I needed to recharge — all the stereotypical things didn’t really do it for me, but I think that’s also because I don’t need a lot of alone time and actually prefer to be with my family.
“But my best thing now is getting to nature, specifically mountains/camping where it’s genuinely quite outside and not a city. If we’re short on time, just a drive out and for lunch and back works pretty well. Ideally, it’s at least one camping night so I can wake up early and make coffee/read and enjoy the crisp air. Closer to home, walks around the neighborhood without any time crunch are really helpful.”
5. Give your care to something other than kids
Self-care doesn’t mean that you’re totally alone. Brooke shared that her idea of taking care of herself includes taking care of the other life in her home: “I’ve gotten VERY into houseplants as a form of self-care. Though maybe caring for living things other than myself isn’t really self-care?”
6. Keep learning
Facebook/Gràcia's private photos
Gràcia has continued to teach herself: “Since I had my first I got certified as a lactation consultant, took several courses related to my field of work, joined a modern Greek class, sewing lessons, and this year fashion design and pattern making.
“Knowing that every Friday evening I have four hours to create, chat, eat and, well, learn with other women is fantastic. The drive there and back listening to audiobooks helps, too. Then I allow myself to skip a class if needed … but only to do something kid-free. I also go back to my car or to a coffee shop and read when I take the kids to activities.”
7. Take over the radio (whether they like it or not)
Sarah offered what is probably my favorite of the suggestions: Claim public space as your own. “I listen to audiobooks of my selection on the way home from anywhere. On the way to places, kids can pick music and shriek and whatever, but on the way home Momma’s playing something you will not understand and you are not allowed to interrupt unless you witness the start of the zombie apocalypse, the end.”
8. Journaling and meditation go far
Amanda is a big fan of a habit that we should probably all do more of: journaling. “Journal/prayer/meditation practice in the mornings (most mornings, some days the day gets ahead of me so I try to do it later in the evening). [I also like] going out of town every few months for a day or two.”
9. Reconnect with your younger self
Facebook/Samantha's private photos
Samantha had a great suggestion that I might try: Get back into stuff you loved when you were younger. “I’ve found hobbies that are just mine — taking care of plants, for one — and I’ve also taken up shamelessly staying up by myself to play video games at night like I did when I was younger.”
10. Make your whole career about self-care
Leah has made self-care a way of life, truly: “I basically built a career for myself that prioritizes self-care, where I set my own schedule, guide others in meditation, and work with a collective of holistic wellness practitioners so I do regular trades for massage, acupuncture, and more. I also start each day with a quiet morning meditation and spend time wandering through forests and out in nature whenever possible.”