From the crack of dawn until hours past the sunset, the modern parent’s day is jam-packed with action. The energy it takes to get children dressed, fed, transported, educated, entertained, fed repeatedly, bathed and put back to bed seems enough to power a small city. In the midst of all this—the playdates, the pancakes, the piano lessons—how is a mom supposed to make time for herself?
Self-care is essential for parenting success. If you are stressed, sleep-deprived, hungry or otherwise running on empty, your health and the health of the family will feel the effects. It may not be possible to get away for the weekend, but carving out time each day to recharge and refresh yourself is easier than you might think. These are three ways to stake out some “you time” in the middle of even the most chaotic day:
1. Set an early alarm
This will take some discipline, especially the night before, when you’ll need to force yourself to bed at a reasonable hour. But think: At the end of the night, your body and mind are tired, and the most you’re likely able to do is veg on the couch for a few television shows. If you swap that hour for the one in the early morning, you’ll get so much more usable energy out of that time. So set an alarm to wake up before the kids and enjoy a truly quiet house. You can use the time to read, exercise, shop online or do anything else that feels like a relaxing way to start the day.
Studies show that frequent meditation can lower anxiety, enhance self-esteem, increase memory and focus, lower blood pressure, and provide other mental and physical benefits. To reap the rewards, it’s suggested to meditate for 20 minutes a day, but you only need start with a few minutes at a time. While the children are at school or napping, take the time to find stillness in your body and quiet in your mind and settle into the practice of just being. Find a comfortable place and position (you don’t need to be sitting up in the traditional cross-legged position), close your eyes and focus on your breathing, allowing each breath to clear a little more noise from your mind. If it’s too hard to quiet the internal chatter, there are a number of smartphone apps, such as Headspace and Calm, which have guided meditation and other functions to make the process easier.
3. Make a mini-spa
Booking an afternoon at the spa may be a thing of the past, but you can still enjoy some of those luxuries at home. Splurge on a few high-quality products in your favorite scents: bath salts, facial mask, intensive hair conditioners, scrubs and lotions. During naptime or on a weekend when the kids are with your partner or out of the house, take an hour to enjoy a mini-spa day. Put on calming music and light a candle. Run a warm bath (don’t forget to put away the kids’ bath toys!), grab a magazine, and soak away your stresses. After, put on a comfy robe, apply a hair or skin treatment, and trim and paint your toenails. After you’re dressed and refreshed, enjoy a cup of tea, or a smoothie or a green juice to amp up your glow from the inside-out.
What are your favorite ways to refresh and recharge? Tell us in the comments!