When was the last time you put your own needs on your to-do list?
My guess is that it’s been a while, if ever.
And I get it, Mama.
You’re busy, overwhelmed, and the last thing on your mind are self care activities.
But can I share a little secret with you?
Not putting yourself on your priority list will only lead to more overwhelm and ultimately burnout.
Most moms figure this out the hard way like I did.
After I had my first son, I wanted to be the “perfect stay-at-home-mom” who was everything to everyone and who didn’t require much for herself.
I deemed myself low maintenance, didn’t have boundaries and definitely didn’t get into the whole “self care thing.”
It wasn’t until I felt burned out and overwhelmed on a daily basis – to the point of being physically ill from stress and overworking myself – that I decided to prioritize my own needs.
Yep, I had to find out for myself what all the self care fuss was about!
Honestly, I had no idea how to make self care activities or a reality.
I was already a busy and overwhelmed mom, but I also knew this was something that deserved my attention – so I chose to commit to self care ideas and get great at it.
This didn’t come easy to me, and it likely won’t come easy to you, either.
However, after some time of being aware of your needs and meeting them consistently, prioritizing yourself will become second nature.
You’ll feel re-energized, more connected to yourself, and way less overwhelmed – I promise!
And no, it doesn’t have to take hours or a ton of money (unless you want it to!)
Redefining What a Self Care Plan Looks Like for You
Forget the cliches and pretty Instagram feeds of bubble baths and “girly” hobbies like manicures!
Not that there’s anything wrong with those things – it’s just time to redefine what a self care plan looks like for you personally.
Simply put, a self care plan is whatever you need in any given moment.
It’s about giving yourself what you need to feel your best and honoring both your needs and your desires.
If this doesn’t make sense or if it sounds too vague to grasp, that’s okay. It’s not something most people – and especially moms – are used to even thinking about, much less actually implementing.
Start by asking yourself some of the following questions:
- What recharges and energizes me?
- What helps me relax and forget about everything else?
- If I could do anything right now – and nothing was an obstacle (money, for example) – what would it be? What about this thing am I drawn to? Why do I need this?
- What excites me and gets me all giddy?
- What are some things that I used to do before kids, that I’d like to do again?
- What’s something I’ve always wanted to try but haven’t yet?
I know some of these questions seem bigger than self care activities but trust me – they will lead you to your own self care ideas!
Go ahead and journal on the questions above and if you need more self care activities, try some of the ones below!
Self Care Activities for Moms
Here are some great self care activities for busy and overwhelmed moms that are easy to do, fun to try, and don’t take a ton of money or time!
Some of these self care items are cliché but don’t let that deter you from trying it anyway.
This list of self care activities is a great place to start when you are learning how to make self care a priority and a reality, but they’re just that – ideas. There are no rules to self care so try what you want and leave the rest.
- Journal (lookup free journal prompts or get something like a daily gratitude journal)
- Read a book for fun
- Move your body in some capacity and have fun with it (dance, walk your dog, yoga, or whatever makes you feel good)
- Try intuitive eating
- Dress up (or down)
- Start a new hobby
- Deep breathing
- Start a new skin or hair care regime
- Play a game
- Decorate your space
- Let loose and be silly
- Date yourself (buy yourself flowers and chocolates)
- Get together with friends
- Go for a walk outside
- Just go buy the thing (you know…that thing you’ve been thinking about endlessly)
- Replace one thing in your wardrobe (period-stained underwear and holy socks, I’m looking at you)
- Go window shopping and let yourself daydream
- Listen to music (your go-to or something new)
- Get in nature (go to the beach, go fishing, hiking, etc.)
- Read affirmations or create your own
- Take a class or sign up for a workshop
- Choose a nap over being productive while your kids are asleep
- Do something that feels frivolous (take a bubble bath, get a manicure, buy makeup, dye your hair, etc.)
- Invest in yourself with one-on-one or group coaching programs (okay, this one costs both money and time…but trust me, it’s SO worth it!)
Figuring Out Your Self Care Plan
One thing that’s important to know before making a self care plan and prioritizing it is simply that your self care season will change.
What you need as a pregnant mom will be different than what you need when you are healing postpartum.
Likewise, what you desire for self care will look different when your kids are older and more independent than it does when they’re in diapers and need you every minute of every day.
A self care plan can look different in each season of life and isn’t linear or even always predictable.
So, if you used to love doing a particular thing that you just aren’t all that into anymore, it’s okay! Let it go and replace it with something that lights you up and makes you feel good now.
Not sure what self care season you’re in? Simply ask yourself every day, what do I need most? Then try to see common themes throughout the next couple of weeks.
Maybe you’re pregnant or postpartum and you just need sleep.
Prioritize rest and sleep above all – that’s your self care in this season.
Or maybe your kids are older and don’t need you for everything, and you’ve been really interested in picking up a new hobby that puts some light back into your eyes.
Go sign up for a weekly or monthly class and learn a new skill.
How to Prioritize Self-Care Activities (Even as a Busy or Overwhelmed Mom)
I know you want to prioritize yourself and make time for self care activities, but you’re probably doubtful that it’s realistic for you, right?
I get it. But I’m here to tell you that when you truly prioritize yourself in some capacity on a consistent basis, taking care of yourself does become your reality.
1. Decide That You Deserve it and That it’s a Priority
This one sounds a little corny at first, but the truth is that unless you first decide and declare that you deserve to prioritize yourself, it simply won’t happen.
You already know what it feels like to go with the flow, living as if your tank never runs out, and one day realizing that you’ve been running on fumes for way too long.
The only way to make sure that doesn’t happen again is to be self-aware and to believe you really do deserve to take better care of yourself and make it a priority.
How many times do we as moms forget to drink water to make up for the pot of coffee we drink, then later feel like a giant pile of you-know-what?
And what about all the times we wait to eat because someone needed this or that, and we get distracted by all the seemingly urgent fires that we think we need to put out?
Stop settling for cold chicken nuggets that were leftover from your kids’ lunch and start prioritizing nourishing meals that you are actually excited to eat over catching up on housework!
Being busy isn’t more important than your needs and you can’t get out of overwhelm unless you make an intentional choice to stop abandoning yourself (and yes, that’s exactly what you’ve been doing!)
2. Determine What Your Daily Non-Negotiables are
Your non-negotiables can be considered as the basic level things that keep you running. Think of them as maintenance.
No matter what season of life you’re in, you can always count on these things.
Non-negotiable self care activities are often so basic and mindless that most people don’t even consider them self care.
Things like drinking enough water, eating at least three meals instead of snacking until you crash because you don’t have time to sit down and eat, or taking your daily vitamin you know…daily, and not just when you remember.
I know these things don’t sound like a self care plan, but when you define self care as giving yourself whatever you need in any given moment, it makes sense.
These all compound and build upon each other, and when you start small by noticing what your most basic needs are (that likely aren’t being met), it has a ripple effect into the rest of your life.
They are also the easiest to prioritize and do daily or weekly.
Plus, when you prioritize the non-negotiables, they create new and better habits and patterns – which means you’re that much more likely to make your “someday” self care lists a reality because you already have a strong foundation of taking care of yourself.
So, determine what your non-negotiables are on a daily basis and do those things every day – no matter what.
Start small with something like drinking more water, writing down three things you’re thankful for, practicing deep breaths before you lose your cool, and so forth.
Go for the easiest, more approachable ones first.
3. Establish and Maintain Boundaries
The fact is, some people won’t know how to respond when you start prioritizing self care activities. Some may downright hate it. That’s okay! Do it anyway.
You may soon find out that you need to set and maintain boundaries with these people.
We show people how to treat us by what we allow and it’s no different when we are setting boundaries in order to meet our own needs.
Learn the art of saying no when it’s appropriate.
If committing to something that isn’t absolutely necessary for your family gets in the way of your new commitment to a self care plan, choose yourself.
When there’s push back, or your schedule is too full of other commitments, or something just “keeps coming up,” it’s time to evaluate your priorities and if you don’t make the list – do something about it!
4. Schedule and Anchor It In
How do you make self care activities a priority even as a busy or overwhelmed mom?
Outside of everything I’ve already covered, you schedule it in and anchor it to your already established routines!
Pull out your planner and schedule in when you’re going to do something for yourself, no matter what it is or how long you plan to spend doing it.
Take it as seriously as you would with any other appointment.
The only way you can make self care a priority is by being 100% committed to it, and when you’re committed to something you make the time for it.
One really easy way to do this without moving your schedule around too much is to simply add one or two self care activities to your already established routines. I recommend doing this with your non-negotiables first, since starting with the basics is always easier.
So, if you want to make sure you take your daily vitamin every day but forget like most people do, start by putting your vitamin by your coffee cup so that you remember to take it first thing.
Or add this habit into your breakfast routine by setting an alarm on your phone to take it during the same time you eat breakfast.
This can also be referred to as habit stacking, which is something I highly recommend doing!
These are super basic examples but trust me when I say the basics are truly the foundation of everything, so don’t be afraid to start here and build your way up.
Every step compounds on each other and they all help to create new habits and patterns that allow you to incorporate self care into your daily life.
5. Create Self Care Activities to Build a Routine
Another way to prioritize your self care plan and make it a reality no matter how busy or overwhelmed you are is to create a routine around self care activities.
Unlike anchoring in specific self care activities or habits into your already established routines like I talked about above, self care routines are a series of activities that all revolve around (yep, you guessed it) self care.
You’ll still schedule these into your life just like anything else, but these are set blocks of time that are reserved for nothing but taking care of you.
For example, I have a morning self care routine and a night self care routine.
My morning one typically consists of journaling, reading, practicing deep breaths or meditation, and of course a freshly brewed cup of coffee!
My night self care routine can look like writing in my reflection journal, using my massager (best gift ever, by the way!), and drinking some herbal tea in sweet, sweet silence.
Make your self care routines as simple or as extravagant as you want!
Just remember to make sure it’s something that actually matters to you and “fills you up.”
Bringing It All Together with Self Care Activities
As moms, we are notorious for putting ourselves last, as if we don’t have needs or wants of our own.
After consistent self-abandonment (aka, not prioritizing ourselves), we run dry and eventually have nothing to give anymore.
We simply have nothing left in our tank, which means that we need to fill ourselves back up if we want to keep going.
Whether you are simply just caught up in your to-do list, overwhelmed by life, or have never considered yourself to be into self care activities and don’t know where to start – self care is a necessity and is absolutely possible when you know how to prioritize it in a way that works for you.
To make self care activities a priority and a reality (even as a busy or overwhelmed mom), try these tips:
- Decide that you want and deserve to take great care of yourself no matter what.
- Redefine what self care looks like for you. If you’re not sure where to even start, try some of the self care ideas in this post or ask yourself some questions to help you identify what you need most.
- Figure out your self care season so you know how to set and maintain self care in a sustainable way no matter if you’re pregnant with your first baby or are juggling 5 kids.
- Determine your daily non-negotiables and basic needs.
- Establish and maintain boundaries with people that don’t honor your needs and self-prioritization.
- Schedule your self care as if it was as important as a doctor’s appointment (because it is!) and anchor it to already established routines (aka, habit stacking).
- Create self care routines (established blocks of time dedicated to your needs only) and of course, schedule them in as well.
There you have it!
My best tips for making a self care plan practical and sustainable for any mom – no matter how busy or overwhelmed you are!
Which tip will you try first?
Let me know in the comments below!