Self-care for new parents can be HARD! With these tips, you can start practicing it in a way that ACTUALLY helps! (Beyond bubble baths and spa days!)
Exactly how hard did your eyes roll into the back of your brain when I said that?
If you’re anything like most, I’m assuming they rolled pretty dang hard.
You’re tired of hearing about. You’re tired of everyone telling you that you need to do it.
But let me make a promise to you… this post is different.
I’m not going to tell you to take hour-long bubble baths in the middle of the day.
I’m not going to tell you to take trips to the spa at the end of the week.
I’m not going to tell you to take a momcation during spring break.
Why? Because that is just NOT realistic for the average person, much less someone juggling kids. (Especially right now with the condition the world is in!)
If you want some help regarding self-care as a new mom (or dad!) that ACTUALLY works, keep reading.
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What is Self-Care?
It might sound obvious, but many of us don’t actually understand the real definition of self-care. It’s SO IMPORTANT and most will underestimate it.
According to Psych Central, it is defined as:
Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.
It is also identified as one of the key ways to manage our overall mood and anxiety throughout the day. Not to mention being the key factor to having a good relationship within ourselves and others.
If you find yourself going through your days an exhausted, miserable, anxious mess… you aren’t alone. And you aren’t destined to be miserable, either.
The Problem with “Standard” Self-Care Practices
Now, I’m a HUGE fan of self-care. I think that we, as a society, don’t take it as seriously as we should.
But that doesn’t change the fact that standard practices of self-care are… well, a load of crap.
Let me explain.
1. They Take ALOT of Freakin’ Time + Effort
A lot of these suggestions will include hour-long bubble baths, entire afternoons out shopping, get a sitter so you can get your nails done, and a bunch of other stuff that requires a few things…
- TIME you most likely DO NOT have
- MONEY you may also not have a lot of
- CHILDCARE not everyone is blessed to have access to
UMMMM hello??? Many of us have fulltime jobs, husbands who work most waking hours of the day, and NO SUPPORT nearby. So please, KAREN…. tell me when I’m supposed to take this weekend away when I barely have time to pee by myself.
This is unrealistic as all get out.
2. One-Size-Fits-All is UNREALISTIC
Speaking of unrealistic…. this idea that everyone on the entire planet will benefit from every self-care routine idea is absolutely ABSURD.
Some of us are level headed. Some of us have mental health issues. Some of us have heavy-trauma (like me). Some of us have a ton of triggers that are hard to deal with (also me).
But yes… please tell me that bubble bath will INSTANTLY cure me. /eyeroll
The fact of the matter is this: there are TONS of ways to practice self-care and it depends on the person when it comes to if it will be helpful or not.
Which side note… if you’ve tried self-care and it doesn’t help – PLEASE keep trying! I promise you will find what works for you.
3. You’re Neglecting the MOST IMPORTANT Factor
Pretty much every self-care article I’ve ever read is what I would consider “surface level” suggestions.
They tell you to take baths, get out of the house, yada yada yada… all the stuff to help calm your emotions.
But they neglect the importance of self-growth.
“Taking care of yourself” is useless if you’re not seeing progress in your health. If you’re still as traumatized as you were this time last year, still as sick, still lack any real relationships…
Well is that “self-care” REALLY serving its purpose? Not really.
So how do you change that? Well let me tell you what’s helped for me over the past couple years!
How to Create a Self-Care Routine
Now, I could list out all kinds of things for you to do here, but I don’t think that will ACTUALLY be helpful for you. What I think will help far more is by helping you plan out a routine that works for you!
Self-care is incredibly personal and should be treated as such.
1. Conduct a schedule audit
I did start writing this as you needing to do the next step first… but then I realized you actually need to understand where your time goes first.
You will absolutely overwhelm yourself if you try to do too much at once.
I’ve been there, done that, and never going back. Take about 1 week and audit your schedule. And I don’t mean look at your calendar.
I mean write down how long everything takes. Figure out where you have pockets of time (even if they’re only 5 minutes!)
THEN – navigate the next step with these pockets of time in mind.
My schedule looks a little like this:
- 8-9AM: everybody gets up and gets dressed, I make breakfast and put cartoons on for the kids. (this is when I can sneak off to meditate, do makeup if I want to, etc.)
- 9AM-12PM: we either do an activity together, schedule a playdate, or I sit down to work while the kids are engaged in something else (I typically DO NOT have a lot of time so I will utilize 5 minute pockets for meditation to keep me sane throughout the day)
- 12-3PM: we sit down for lunch followed by overlapping nap and quiet times (this is when I get focused work in)
- 3-5PM: everyone comes out of their rooms to either play or watch cartoons for a while. We then cleanup and play/dance before I get dinner started. (I will try to sneak in some reading or other activity that brings me joy here)
- 5-8PM: when I start dinner, kids are dancing to whatever I play on our google home unit. Then we eat, take a bath, read stories, and tuck everyone into bed (this is a time during the day I have literally not one minute to myself as I try to stay on schedule)
- 8PM -1AM: when the baby is asleep, I sneak out and clean up any mess made throughout the day. I will then watch TV, work some more, read, or basically whatever I want to do here. (this is a time during the day I have all the time in the world)
As you can see, I can find pockets of time but it’s hard earlier in the day. I can’t “save” my self-care time for after bed though – I HAVE TO do it in the morning or I will be a mess and we will all have a really terrible day.
But by knowing where my pockets are, I know what is realistic to try and achieve. Which leads to my next point…
2. Outline your goals
The next thing you NEED to do is figure out what your goals are. Once you know where your pockets of time are, you know what is reasonable.
But – starting random things like meditating, scheduling playdates, or reading is absolutely useless if there isn’t a reason behind them to keep you going.
I struggle getting out of the house (when the world is in a better place that is) and I have to FORCE myself to do it. I would rather sit in my house all day.
BUT – it lines up with my goal of nurturing relationships that in turn helps my mental state. Knowing that helps me to actually DO IT.
While I could explain how to outline your goals… I’m going to leave this video by Erin May Henry here for you.
This is how I learned to do goal setting that really WORKS. I’m not going to reinvent the wheel when there’s an incredible resource already available for you.
Check it out below:
3. Pick 1-3 new “habits” to implement
Once you know your goals, choose your new habits to implement – but only a few. You might have set a bunch of goals based off that video, but DO NOT try to do all that at once!!
You absolutely, without a doubt, will crash and burn if you overwhelm yourself.
Maybe you want to work on your mental health and can reasonable manage meditating for 10 minutes in the morning and reading a few pages of a self-help book before bed.
Maybe you want to work on your PHYSICAL health and can reasonably manage adding more protein into your diet and going on a walk with the baby before dinner.
Once you master these things and they are part of your schedule, you can consider adding more.
4. Analyze what’s working and adjust
Now… this will take some time to master. But let me say this: if it’s not working, stop doing it. Do not beat yourself up for “failing” (whatever that really means) but adjust to what works for you!
Last year I tried to force myself to get up at 5AM everyday. It would last a few days, maybe a couple weeks, and then I would fall off. And I beat myself up HARD for this – I assumed I just didn’t have the discipline.
But the truth was… it wasn’t the right habit for me. I have since stuck to getting up at 8AM with my kids and it works. I feel happier with more energy throughout the day.
My focus is on things that DO have impact. This is meditating, nurturing relationships, spending time with my kids, picking up hobbies, etc. These things bring me joy and add more value to my life.
So make sure you analyze what is and isn’t working and then adjust. But make sure you give it a couple weeks before you give up!
Standard self-care practices are CRAP if you ask me – you need to do what works for you. Find your pockets of time, set your goals, implement the new habits, and adjust as needed.
I also want to note that these new habits/activities DO NOT have to be extravagant. If it’s sitting on your patio for 10 minutes to enjoy those first sips of coffee – DO THAT! If it’s coloring for a few minutes before getting your kids up – DO THAT!
Do the things that bring you joy, light up your heart, and help you grow. But focus on what WORKS FOR YOU – not what everyone else is preaching.
Do you practice self-care? What have you tried? Let me know in the comments below!
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