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Self-care seems to be all the rage these days. If I’m honest with you, it’s one of those terms that I find gimmicky. Not the act though, just the word!
The act of self-care though is essential for mums, busy or not!
I haven’t always considered my self-care practices. I never thought of my self-care practices, that is until one day I collapsed and hit my head on a wall on the way down, due to vitamin deficiencies and exhaustion. Yikes!
What exactly is Self-Care?
Self-care is pretty self explanatory. It is doing what is necessary to care for oneself. An official definition by the Self Care Forum is “The actions that individuals take for themselves, on behalf of and with others in order to develop, protect, maintain and improve their health, wellbeing or wellness” (Self Care Forum, 2019). As such self-care practise is whatever one chooses for themself at any given time.
I still have a long way to go in terms of prioritising my self-care. I’m a work in progress. Be better than me though, and look after yourself.
Below are 10 self-care suggestions for busy mums.
10 self-care practises for the busy mum
Getting enough sleep is self-care. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise! It may be surprising that I have put this at the top of the busy mum’s list, but not getting enough sleep can wreak havoc on the body.
Sleep deprivation can affect body weight. The levels of the hormones in the body which control feelings of hunger or fullness are affected by sleep. Sleep deprivation also causes the release of insulin, which leads to increased fat storage and a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. Shocking isn’t it?
The consequences of sleep deprivation can also include swollen, sunken eyes, dark circles and dehydrated skin. So you see friends, the saying “get your beauty sleep” is a very relevant one when it comes to self-care.
It is imperative to have regular check-ups, as tempting as it is to use busyness as an excuse not to. These visits to the Doctor can detect whether someone is at risk of stroke, heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, whatever, and how to prevent them. Other underlying ailments can also be detected and treatment commenced. Ignoring symptoms is certainly not caring for self.
Something like the NHS health check which includes a blood pressure check, height and weight measurement, and blood test can take approximately thirty minutes.
This service is for those aged between 40 and 74 years of age, however, those on either side of the age bracket should enquire with their Doctor and schedule to have a check-up as part of their self-care practice.
Can I be honest with you? I have a love/hate relationship with exercise! There are periods when I am pumped up and raring to go, followed by a long plateau!
One of the ways you can incorporate exercise into your busy schedule is by participating in activities with your children. Children tend to have a lot of energy and are usually active. While taking your children to the park, for example, you can sneak some exercise in.
Another way to incorporate exercise is to sign up for dance classes or other types of group classes. It would enable you to meet people and potentially have fun while keeping fit.
A cheap way to exercise is by using exercise videos on Youtube! Many of them are free. A quick form of exercise which burns calories quickly is HIIT – High-Intensity Interval Training. As the name suggests, it is of very high intensity and is not for the faint-hearted.
It is advisable to consult a doctor before beginning any exercise regime.
In one of my previous posts on strategies for finding inner peace, I mentioned reciting positive affirmations as one of the ways to achieving inner peace and happiness.
Affirmations go out into the universe and what we speak come to pass. This is a powerful self-care practice which can be done almost anywhere, so for a busy mum, this practice is great.
Read more: 40 Positive Affirmations: Self Empowerment
The benefits of deep breathing are well documented. How we breathe has been shown to influence our emotional responses to events. Deep breathing is very therapeutic in that it helps one to feel less anxious. Also, it is something that can be done anywhere.
Taking deep breaths can help regulate your blood pressure. It may not control high blood pressure entirely, however, slowing breathing increases “baroreflex sensitivity,” the mechanism that regulates blood pressure via heart rate.
A couple of the benefits of lowering high blood pressure and heart rate are that it lowers the risk of stroke and cerebral aneurysm.
Effective breathing also improves blood oxygen saturations. Breathing exercises can alleviate some of the symptoms associated with asthma attacks, shortness of breath, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and sleep apnea.
Deep breathing is also natural analgesia. The body releases endorphins, when deep breaths are taken, which minimize discomfort and pain and maximize pleasure.
Being that practising deep breathing can improve both physical and mental health, it is definitely worth doing as often as possible.
Quick skincare routine
Hear me out people. A quick skincare routine can be as little as washing one’s face with a favourite skin cleanser, to a more full-on regimen of using a cleanser, toner, moisturiser, mask (and whatever else) twice a day. This is not a substitute for a proper regime with the many acids available, and clay masks etc.
A few years ago I completely neglected my skincare routine. I’m talking can’t-be-bothered-to-moisturise-my-body-after-a-shower type of neglect!
Something as simple as moisturising your skin after a shower shows a certain level of care for one’s self and doesn’t take a lot of time to do.
Read a few chapters of your favourite book
Of course, this is if reading is one of your favourite things to do. It doesn’t even have to be a book. You could spend some time reading your favourite magazine, newspaper or blog.
It has been found that reading can help reduce stress. In this fast-paced internet-driven world, it is nice to have some downtime to alleviates stress, and reading can help with that. It is said to lower the heart rate and ease tension in the muscles.
Further benefits of reading include improving the memory, reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, and also improving writing skills. Consider reading as one of your self-care practices.
If you absolutely cannot fathom reading a book, you could listen to an audio-book.
Journalling can be as simple or as complex as you you want. Some people invest a lot in their journals and embellish them with stickers and charms as they see fit.
The words ‘mum’ and ‘busy’ seem to go hand in hand sometimes but it doesn’t have to be the case when it comes to journaling. You can be a mum and make time for your self-care and mental wellbeing, thanks to The 6 Minute Journal.
This is more than just a diary. It’s a gratitude journal, daily companion, and mindfulness journal all in one! It starts off with a 70-page introduction of concrete implementation strategies and invaluable tips on how to get the most out of your diary. The 220-page diary is based on positive psychology research and because you only need a short amount of time in which to journal, it is extremely sustainable!
Like reading, writing is beneficial to health as it reduces stress and reduces the impact of stressors on the body. Writing also sharpens cognition and boosts low mood.
On a practical level, journaling would allow you to document your thoughts and feelings, which could enable you to manage your emotions and certain triggers.
Evaluating journal entries could help you make sense of your life events in a healthy way.
As a busy mum, you may be too pressed for time to have a full on self-care routine. You may not have time for an hour-long soak in the bath or pamper sessions at the spa.
I hear ya!
You could set aside a few minutes a day to concentrate on your favourite self-care practices instead.
Another suggestion is to set aside a few minutes for stretching when you wake up, journaling, listening to your favourite podcast or youtube channel, or for practising deep breathing.
The idea is that you fragment your various self-care practices into snippets, which you can squeeze into your busy schedule.
I can’t stress enough how important for self-care asking for help is. Sure, it’s great being a mum who has her home, career or business in order, but sometimes a mum needs some help to enable her get some rest or time to herself.
Before getting to the stage of feeling unable to cope with whatever situation you are going through, ask for help. If you have a family member that can help with babysitting, don’t be too shy to ask.
Where there are no family members that can help, it is possible to find alternative options such as nanny-share which enables parents to share a nanny with a friend or another local family.
A cheaper alternative is a live-in Au Pair, which can cost approximately £75 a week in addition to providing free lodging and food.
Sometimes having a nanny or au pair is not feasible. If you are a member at your local gym you could send your children to the crèche facilities for a couple of hours. Sometimes this can be free or a for a low fee.
In England, children between 2 years old and 4 years old may be eligible to between 15 and 30 hours free childcare, subject to eligibility criteria. You could make enquiries into what you’re eligible for.
Putting children to bed early can also give you invaluable time to spend on self-care. This is something that could be done when paying for childcare is not possible or wanted.
No one can define what self-care means for everybody. Sure, there are some things that are well documented as being beneficial for us such as exercise, but how much of each activity is done would be unique to you and your circumstances.
The important thing is that you schedule some time to care for yourself, for the sake of your physical and mental well-being.
What other self-care routines do you know of that a busy mum could practise? What is your favourite self-care practise?
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