Self care is such a hot word right now. I scroll my IG feed full of hopes that a bubble bath and a girls night will fix all your problems. Here is the thing, I love those things too but those things aren’t going to help you get out of the hamster wheel of doing more, being more and striving for more. When you think about your self care are you actually taking care of yourself? Are you doing something to make yourself better? Or make your life easier? This is a self care guide for the overwhelmed mom, and that overwhelmed mom is me. I thought I was carrying all the stress piling up so well, but the weight of it all became too much and I made myself physically ill.
I hope this self care guide can help you look at self care differently and prevent you from getting to the place I did.
This process forced me to really think about things in my life that were important to me. The things that genuinely brought me joy and focus my energy on that. In the process I also had to focus on things that did not bring me joy, things that weren’t the best use of my time or skill set, and remove as much of those as I could. That was my true self care journey. Ya sure I could run upstairs and take a bubble bath a few nights a week but I would still come down to a messy house and screaming children and I would end up right where I left off, stressed!
So here it is. My self care guide for the overwhelmed mom. The mom who needs a little more than a glass of wine or a bath bomb to help her get through the trenches. These are things I am putting into practice as we speak and my hope is they can help you too.
Practical Self Care
I work a full time job from home. I homeschool my 3 girls. That means I barely have enough time to wash our clothes and clean up after dinner let alone scrub my toilets. Every single day I would stress over how I would get it all done without vacuuming at 11pm and slaving away on weekends. I was miserable. Finally I realized that the deep cleaning was not where I wanted to delegate my time or skills. This was a practical choice for me. The hours I took away from work to do the cleaning could go back into my work to cover the cost. I could take this one really daunting task off my plate, even though I felt it was in my job criteria, to help not only make my life easier but help with my overall mental health.
This was taking up space in an already overfilled brain and just the simple task of hiring a cleaning company to come twice a month took a huge burden off my shoulders. Hey I still have to wash dishes and clean up after my kids, but knowing I have help makes a huge difference.
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Other ways I practice practical self care?
- Budgeting with my husband to make sure we aren’t overwhelmed later on.
- Try to spend at least one day a month organizing an area of our home that caused us a lot of stress
- Using a grocery delivery service. I love the Amazon delivery service. I find everything I need and I find its the cheapest of all the services. They even have Whole Foods brand 365 which I love. Use this link to get a free trial.
Spiritual Self Care
I like to fill every moment of every day with something. If I am washing dishes, I pop in my headphones and listen to a podcast. If my girls are playing quietly, I jump on my computer to answer a few emails. I really believed that no moment should be wasted. I had this really unhealthy idea that I had to be as efficient as possible and what I didn’t realize was I was doing so much harm to myself. We live in a time where we are constantly bombarded with stimulation. Computer screens, phones, wireless headphones, and bluetooth.
It’s easier than ever to have something going on to combat our boredom but did you ever stop and think that maybe boredom was a good thing? I started putting a “silent time” into practice every day. Just 20 minutes to start but its already making a huge difference. No talking, no outside distractions, no noise or stimulation at all.
I use the time to
- brainstorm ideas for work,
- recite positive affirmations
- just sit in silence.
Spirituality is about nursing your soul, whatever that means to you. Maybe its prayer and time reading your bible or maybe its meditation and affirmations. Whatever it is it should not be taken for granted. Once I started putting in my “silent time” I felt the overwhelm start to drift away.
Emotional Self Care
“I’ve got it under control” this was my mantra for the last few months. As the stress and workload grew, as I coped with my dad’s disease and my moms hospital stay, as my husband changed jobs and my kids demands evolved, I had it all under control. But I didn’t. because on the inside I was in way over my head and I didn’t have the support to handle it. I didn’t have the proper coping mechanisms or stress management tools to help combat it all and so all I did was let it pile up until my body shut down. I went into adrenal fatigue and at that point any little thing would be send me into a downward spiral.
Here are some things I did to help:
- I set clear boundaries for my emotional needs, even with the ones I love. Saying NO or letting someone know how I feel (even if it might hurt) was the best self care I could have done for myself.
- We set aside time to talk about our feelings. Maybe we feel stressed or unhappy or maybe we are really content. Setting aside a few minutes each week to have that space to discuss how I felt helped me feel validated.
- I started to explore my emotional needs. Do I need alone time to think? Or do I need more affection? Or do I need affirmations?
- I also tried to find coping techniques that help ME best when I am stressed. I realized alone time to think worked wonders for me.
- Ok and a big one? I let myself have a big cry than sat down and wrote a gratitude list.
Professional Self Care
If I had to pinpoint one section of my self care that had the most unhealthy boundaries it would be this section right here. I love my work and I tend to find any free moment to squeeze in a few emails or a little writing. Without realizing it I ended up working myself into a full on burn out. I quickly realized that this wasn’t a sprint, this was a marathon. For me to maintain this career I loved so much I would have to be better about taking breaks, getting enough sleep, walking away from my computer and being present. This was not only a game changer for my mental health but it greatly increased my creativity. These boundaries didn’t mean I wasn’t “hustling”, it meant I was serious about my success long-term. Here are some healthy practices I started putting into place:
- block scheduling worked great for me not only for my productivity but for my mental health. It helped me stick to my boundaries and stay focused
- I made sure I was surrounding myself with positive people.When you work at home by yourself it is hard. But I do have a strong blogging community and some very good blogging friends to make sure I am getting my weekly dose of encouraging discussions
- I love to learn new things so I make sure I set time aside for that. I feel encouraged and filled up so I make this a priority because I do feel it is a big part of my professional self care
- It is hard but I try as much as possible to remove comparison out of my mind. In my industry there can be a lot of comparison so I try to remember that God has a special journey for me and I am right where I need to be
Physical Self Care
When you have 3 young kids who you homeschool and you have a business you run from home and you have obligations to your family, community, church, you tend to feel your life will always be busy. Actually I feel like our society glorifies busy-ness. I really had to work at taking care of physical needs and even prioritizing it regardless of the busy around me. I had to also change my mindset in regards to how I choose to go about my day. I am not this machine that is meant to be as efficient as possible. My worth is not calculated on how many things I get checked off my list in one day. Rest is important. I should rest. Every single day!
As mothers we have a huge responsibility that is not only physically exhausting, it’s emotionally exhausting too. We need breaks. We need to stop and think of ourselves and what rest looks like for us. Maybe that means napping with your baby or maybe that means sitting on the couch while your kids play. Maybe that means forcing yourself to go to bed early. Or it means saying no to a playdate or a volunteer opportunity or a girls night out. Whatever rest looks like to you I need you to take it. But here is the thing, rest is not rest if you carry all the guilt with it. Stop feeling guilty for choosing yourself and doing what’s best for your body and mind.
This was a big part of my physical self care. With these extra few steps I saw a huge difference in how I felt:
- Sleep. I revamped my bed time. I was the worst at falling asleep because I had devices all around me at all hours of the night. Setting a time to turn off the devices at least an hour before bed has greatly helped me get a better nights rest.
- Healthy Food. I would make these wholesome lunches for the kids and scraps for me so I started making my lunch first. I was allowed to have healthy food too and if I made mine first I noticed I was a lot less likely to make an excuse.
- Drinking water. I kept two huge water cups right on the table I walk by a million times a day. I found myself reaching for it more because it was right there.
- Taking care of myself. I know we all joke about not having time to shower but I started to make time. I noticed it helped my overall mental health because I was telling myself that I was important too.
- Movement. I was the first to say I didn’t have time to work out but I did have time to do yoga with my kids, or pay a game of tag, or jog to the park. Maybe a gym wasn’t in the cards for this season but I could get something done that helps my body feel good.
So there it is. These are the healthy steps I put into place to help me really focus on my self care. Sure I squeeze in a bubble bath in there every once in a while. But I knew I had to make some drastic changes if I really wanted to see some results. I hope this self care guide for the overwhelmed mom can be a bit helpful for you.
Want to read more about my motherhood journey? Click Here
What steps do you take to make sure you avoid mom burnout? I would love to hear about them in the comments below.