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If there’s one thing that keeps me going as a work at home mom, it’s having a self-care routine.
It’s what helps me get through the days when life is crazy and I’m dealing with a never-ending to-do list.
But for a lot of moms, a self-care routine just doesn’t fit into the picture. According to the Cleveland Clinic, moms with kids under 18 are less likely to:
- Practice self-care
- Eat healthy
- Spend time with friends
- Get enough rest
- Get regular checkups
It’s depressing, right?
But if you’re nodding your head, thinking yes, that sounds like me, I get you.
Because taking care of yourself is hard when you’re trying to grow your business, take care of kids, homeschool if that’s your jam, handle household chores, pay bills, be there for your spouse–you get the drift.
Your to-do list is full of things and guess what? Taking care of yourself is at the very bottom, if it’s there at all.
It’s a total bummer. But the good news is, you can do something about it.
Why Work at Home Moms Need a Self-Care Routine
Running a freelance business or starting a side hustle you can do at home is great, for so many reasons.
- You can set your own hours, depending on what kind of work you’re doing
- Casual Friday can be every day if you want
- There’s more time to spend with your kids
- It’s possible to make a full-time income, working part-time hours
- Growing a business from home can be extremely fulfilling if you’re doing something you love
So what does any of that have to do with self-care?
Well, here’s the thing about being a work at home mom: your work day never really ends.
I try to stick with set hours for my business, Monday through Friday. That doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes end up answering client emails at 11 p.m. or doing a rush job on a Sunday afternoon.
And when I’m not working on my business, I’m teaching my kids or going on a field trip or taking my son to one sport or another. Then there’s cooking, cleaning, laundry–the usual household stuff.
It’s a lot. And sometimes I get too close to burnout for comfort.
A self-care routine is a way to dial down the stress that sometimes goes along with being a work at home mom.
Hitting pause, even if it’s just for a few minutes, lets you catch your breath. You can recenter and find your focus again.
When you don’t do that, you end up frazzled, distracted, overwhelmed–none of which helps you be more productive. And it doesn’t help your kids either when you’re irritated and snappy.
If self-care isn’t part of your regular routine, here’s what you can do about it:
1. Ditch the mom guilt
There’s so much pressure on moms to be perfect. Not just from the media either; moms do it to each other too.
If you haven’t started a self-care routine yet, ask yourself if it’s because mom guilt is telling you not to. This article from Parents.com explains it pretty well–we moms put ourselves on the shelf because we feel like it’s wrong to take the focus off our kids, spouse or home.
And that’s just crap.
At least one of my two kids is always with me 24/7. I get a completely kid-free hour or two about once every six months.
My son has soccer practice once a week. So I use that time to get caught up on my reading.
Do I feel guilty that all the other moms and dads are down on the field watching the practice instead of sitting in their car like me?
Quiet time is oh-so precious when your have a wide-open kid like mine. (My daughter sits in the backseat reading and enjoying the quiet too–we’re total twin souls).
The point is, I don’t feel bad for grabbing a few minutes to do something I enjoy. And when game time rolls around on Saturday morning I’m ready to be present and cheer him on.
If you’re feeling mom guilt about putting yourself first, just remember: self-care can make you a better parent.
2. Brainstorm self-care ideas for a self-care routine
If you don’t practice self-care often, it helps to start by figuring out what it means to you.
Reading is one of my favorite down-time activities. So is exercising.
Think about what you’d like your self-care routine to include. For example, that might be:
- Grabbing a quick 15-minute nap every afternoon
- Indulging in a favorite dessert once a week
- Sending the kids to bed a few minutes early once or twice a week to get some extra quiet time
- Going on a “mom’s night out” with other moms from your church or play group
- Sleeping an extra half hour on Saturday mornings
- Taking a walk around the block alone
These don’t seem like big things, do they?
Doing one nice thing for yourself regularly, even if it’s simple, can make such a difference.
When I don’t read every day or exercise as often as I want, I get totally disoriented. This usually happens my freelance clients pile on the work all at once.
And while I love the income freelancing affords, I hate missing my self-care routine.
So, think about your definition of self-care. Spend 10 or 15 minutes just brainstorming ideas for things you could do.
They don’t have to cost money; you don’t necessarily need to leave the house. They just need to be things that you enjoy or that give you a sense of inner calm.
(And if you’re stumped for what to do I’ve got you covered. You’ll find a list of 101 self-care ideas for busy moms, along with a self-care workbook, in the Boss Mama Resource Library.)
3. Find the time and put it on your calendar
I always seem to run short on time.
There just aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all. So I have to pick and choose where I use my time.
And to make self-care fit in your routine if you’re a work at home mom, you’ll have to do the same.
Look at your schedule, daily, weekly, monthly. Where can you fit in 15 minutes, a half hour, an hour that you can claim for yourself?
Seriously, you have to be ruthless if you want to make self-care a priority.
If self-care is new to you, it’s okay to start small. Aim for 10 to 15 minutes a day or one hour a week. You can ease into it and build from there.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need to in finding the time for self-care.
If you’re married, ask your spouse to take the kids out for an hour on the weekend. Or you go out and let them stay home.
If you’re a single mom whose kids don’t have regularly scheduled dad time, you might get your parents, siblings, neighbors or friends to pitch in.
Drop-in childcare might be another option. Or trading babysitting duties with another mom.
Once you find the time, here’s the most important thing: commit to showing up regularly. Consistency is non-negotiable for your self-care routine.
4. Set boundaries for your self-care routine
This step might be the most important one of all for creating a self-care routine.
My kids understand that if I’m exercising, that’s my time. Unless the house is on fire or someone is bleeding from a major artery, they know to let me enjoy that hour undisturbed.
Once you’ve set a time for self-care, daily or weekly, ask your family to respect that time.
It’s okay to do that. In fact, you really need to do that.
Self-care routines should help you feel relaxed and reenergized. But it’s hard to enjoy your routine when your kids or spouse distract you from it.
You also need to set boundaries with your business.
If you’re used to answering emails at all hours of the day and night, ask yourself why you’re doing it and who it helps.
While some business emails might truly be urgent, I’ve learned that a lot of them can wait until the next morning.
If you’re not comfortable shutting off your phone at 5 pm every day, at least do it whenever you’re working on self-care.
Make that time–even if it’s only 10 minutes–all about you.
5. Keep a self-care journal
Journaling can improve your health in more ways than one. Keeping a self-care journal can help you be more intentional about how you spend your time and take care of yourself.
You can use your journal to track things like:
- Self-care activities
- Moods and emotions
- Physical activity
- Diet and eating habits
- Sleep habits and dreams
- Spiritual care
It can really help you get in tune with what you’re feeling, what’s working for self-care and what’s not.
Your journal doesn’t have to be fancy; a plain notebook. But if you’re into bullet journaling, Tracy Halliday at Bullet Journal has a great example for making a bujo self-care journal.
And just like practicing your self-care routine regularly, commit to journaling every day to get the best results.
6. Use self-care apps to manage your routine
Apps can make life as a work at home mom so much easier. And they can also come in handy if you’re trying to find your self-care groove.
These apps can help you find your pace with self-care and be more mindful of how you spend each day:
The Headspace app offers short guided meditations to help you destress as you go about your day. There are different meditations for work, sleep, stress, anxiety–pretty much all the things you might be struggling with as a boss mom.
It’s free to sign up but to use all the app’s features, you’ll need to subscribe. Subscriptions cost $7.99 to $19.99 per month.
I’ve been so busy at times that I’ve forgotten to eat. I get stuff done but then I end up hangry with a headache.
Aloe Bud gives you nudges throughout the day to make time for small self-care actions: having a snack, drinking water, taking a quick break. There’s also a micro-journal feature with prompts that you can use to jot down your thoughts and feelings at any given moment.
Daylio is a mood tracker app that lets you use simple icons to track your moods. You can tie those moods to specific activities, such as work or relaxing, to see how they overlap.
The Daylio app is free to download. If you want unlimited mood tracking, the premium version costs $5.99.
One of my biggest struggles is not getting enough sleep. If that’s you too, then you might like the Pzizz app.
This app is designed to encourage better sleep habits using music, voiceover and sound effects. The app, which costs $49.99 a year, can also help you master the art of taking power naps when you’re crunched for time.
The Shine app is kind of like your own self-care cheerleader. The app allows you to set personal growth goals but it also sends daily motivational texts and gives you access to motivational “Shine Talks”.
The app costs $10/month but it could be a great investment if you need regular mental pick-me-ups.
What will you include in your self-care routine?
I’ve given you the basics to create a self-care routine. Now it’s time to put those tools to work.
And I hope you will, because when we take care of ourselves as moms, everybody benefits. That includes your business too.
Do you have a self-care idea or tip to share? Tell me about it in the comments or email me at Rebecca@BossSingleMama.com.
And don’t forget to grab your Self-Care Workbook in the Boss Mama Resource Library!