One of the biggest myths that keeps us from nurturing ourselves as parents is the notion that self-care takes a lot of time. Sure, long kid-free hours to relax can be lovely, however, they can be very difficult to arrange. One way to make self-care part of your daily life is to begin looking for ways you can do self-care in bite-sized (manageable!) shorter bits of time. Let’s take a look at how bite-sized self-care can bring a little ease into your life.
As a parent, opportunities for self care often come in bite-sized moments. It’s not easy to get hours to yourself, but you might be able to grab 10 minutes. If we accept that self-care is critical to our well-being, we can begin to look for those unexpected moments of downtime and take advantage of them to do “bite-sized” self-care.
For instance, if your kids all get quietly involved in a game, you may be tempted to “be productive” and do one more chore on your list. Or maybe you feel some powerful emotions coming on. Experiment with what it feels like instead, to give yourself a little breather and nurture yourself. Set a timer for just 10 minutes if it helps.
Self-care isn’t selfish
Self-care isn’t selfish – it can, in fact, enhance your parenting by giving you more patience, clarity, and energy. You set a good example for life long health when the kids see you take care of yourself.
Self care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it’s often talked about in relation to mental health, self care is important for our overall well-being. It helps us to recharge, both physically and mentally, so that we can show up for our lives in the best way possible. self care isn’t self-indulgent or selfish – it’s an essential part of self-preservation.
One of the best things you can do for your mental health is to develop a self care routine that works for you. This might include things like exercise, healthy eating, journaling, spending time in nature, or anything else that makes you feel good. Self care is about meeting your own needs in a way that feels good to you. It’s not about doing things that you think you “should” do – it’s about listening to your own body and mind and giving yourself what you need.
When we take care of ourselves physically, it can have a positive impact on our mental health. Exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. Eating nutritious food gives our bodies the energy and nutrients they need to function at their best. Getting enough sleep can help to improve our focus and concentration during the day. And spending time outside can help to reduce stress levels and increase feelings of calmness and relaxation.
Self care isn’t a one-time thing – it’s something that we need to do on a regular basis if we want to maintain our mental health and well-being. By incorporating self care into our lives, we’re choosing to prioritize our own needs and taking steps to improve our mental health.
Bite Size Self Care Ideas
Here are some ideas for bite-sized self-care that are easy to begin, and fairly easy to interrupt (I find this important since kids will often interrupt us 😉 ). Kids can be nearby or join you even. Take a look, then make your own list of 5-10 bite-size self care ideas.
- Drawing or Coloring (with or without your kids)
- Reading a novel
- Eating a meal outside
- Going on a walk or run – with older kids this is a way to increase fitness and get a chance for talking together.
- Badminton, tennis or racquetball with your kids
- Knitting, crochet, or other handwork
- Watching a show with the whole family
- Doing Legos with your child (or sorting pieces for them – allowing your mind go blank for a bit…it’s like Lego meditation.)
- Choosing your favorite: Sitting in your favorite chair, using your favorite mug, plate or bowl, choosing your favorite ice cream – allowing yourself to have a preference in a time when usually you’ve been catering to everyone else.
- Noticing and enjoying silence when it happens
- Sitting down with a cup of coffee and just drinking – enjoying without being ‘productive’
- Watching birds
- Vacuuming, folding laundry or some other house-care that you actually enjoy doing
- Taking pictures
- Making daisy chains while at the playground
- 10 More Ideas for Self Care You Can Do With Kids Nearby – from Confidence Meets Parenting
Changing Our Mindset
The primary way to make self care happen is to simply to change your mindset; realizing that choosing an activity that nurtures you is an option when you have a moment of peace. You may also find it helpful to create a basket full of things you love to do and have it at the ready.
As parents, we are often pushed to put everyone else’s needs ahead of our own. We are told that self-care is selfish, and that we should be focused on taking care of others. But the truth is, self-care is essential for our mental, emotional, and physical health. When we make time for self-care, we are able to recharge and refresh ourselves. We can show up for our loved ones as our best selves, instead of running on empty.
It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive to practice self-care. Just carve out a little bit of time each day to do something that makes you happy. It could be something as simple as reading a book, taking a bubble bath, or going for a walk outdoors. Fill your self care routine with activities that bring you joy, and watch your mental and physical health improve as a result.
Self care may look different now than it did when you had no children. Especially when kids are young, their needs dictate a level of selflessness that we may never have experienced before. One of your most important jobs is to continue to have a self to give from. Your ideas, your care and your love MATTER to your family. Safeguard yourself by looking for bite-sized moments to nurture who you are, so that you can continue giving the love and care that allows your family to thrive.
You’re Right, It’s More Than Just Bubble Baths and Spa Days
When it comes to self care, we often think of face masks and bubble baths. While there’s nothing wrong with a little pampering, true self care goes much deeper than that. Self care is about taking care of YOU.
It’s about listening to your body and giving it what it needs. For some people, self care means making time for daily exercise. For others, it might mean setting aside time each day for meditation or journaling. self care is different for everyone, but the most important thing is to have a self care routine that works for you.
Just like you wouldn’t skip a day of brushing your teeth, self care should be something that you make time for every day. When you start taking care of yourself, you’ll notice a difference in your mood, your energy levels, and your overall wellbeing. So don’t wait – start making self care a priority today!
Alissa Zorn is an author, and founder of the website Overthought This. She's a coach and cartoonist passionate about helping people overcome perfectionism and shame to build authentic, joyful lives. Alissa is certified through the International Coach Federation and got her Trauma-Informed Coaching certification from Moving the Human Spirit. She wrote Bounceback Parenting: A Field Guide for Creating Connection, Not Perfection, and is always following curiosity to find her next creative endeavor.