As a parent, our days seem filled from the moment we open our eyes until the moment we close them. I get it — telling a parent to make time for self-care can immediately be followed by an eye roll. The idea of self-care sounds lovely, but the question is when? And how?
As a parent, you are expected to shine, take care of others, and in the process, take care of yourself too. You are an amazing human being trying to raise other human beings, which is not an easy task. There are bills to pay, mouths to feed, tears to wipe, experiences to share, and endless checks to tick on your to-do list. To keep living and hopefully thriving, you have to take care of yourself.
I must admit that self-care did not come easily to me. It was always easier for me to give to everyone else rather than myself. Due to burnout and stress, I realized just how important self-care really is. Life flows better when you make time for self-care because you’ll feel more relaxed as you tend to regular duties. Self-care doesn’t have to be expensive or cost any money at all. You already have the tools you need. We have 1,440 glorious minutes in a day and they are all ours to decide what we want to do with them.
We fill our days with 5 minute distractions, and some of these can be dedicated to self-care. How many minutes do we spend distracted on our phone, spacing out, looking for items we misplaced, or taking a long time to do a task because we are so depleted?
I know not every day is a spa day and we have many responsibilities, but there are some quick ways to add self-care into your life. Below are 10 easy, 5 minute routines. Try one or two and if it feels good, add a few more. If you like, extend some of these 5 minutes into longer sessions. This life is yours to live.
Take time to breathe in the morning
If you have an hour in the morning for meditation, wonderful! But if not, take at the very least 5 minutes. Honestly, 5 minutes can make a big difference in your day. Set your morning alarm for 5 minutes earlier if you feel you need that. When you wake up, please do not grab your phone. Before you take on the world that lives in your phone, breathe deeply for a few minutes. I practice mantra meditation myself, but even if you don’t have a mantra, the basic principle is to fill your mind with positivity. Instead of trying to clear your mind, try to fill it with positive thoughts. You can pick a positive word or affirmation such as “peace,” “I am love,” or a traditional Sanskrit mantra if that resonates and breathe it in. When you start thinking about your to-do list and how late you are going to be, pause and continue to breathe in the word you chose. In terms of where to breathe or meditate, it’s wonderful if you have a special place to do that, but it’s more important to just start. For years, my children could sense the moment I woke up so I usually just sat up in bed to meditate. You can breathe or meditate lying down (but try not to fall back asleep!). The main thing is to start your day in a peaceful and calm way before you tackle the rest of the day. If this practice is working, try to add more time to this practice each week. For extra support, there are wonderful meditation timer apps to help with this.
Love your routine
Many people have a morning hustle to get out the door in the morning. Do you love your routine? Try to take a few conscious minutes to bring love into what you are doing. Do you love your morning shower, your morning smoothie? Can you add music to your morning routine? Sometimes we get caught up in the things we “have” to do and forget to bring joy to them. We can still do all the things we “have” to do, but we can also change the vibration of them. Is there something that makes you function better? Make more time for those things. Music has a huge effect on my life. I invested in a wireless speaker and a music streaming service so I always have music easily available. Can you dance around the kitchen with your kids while you do the dishes? When you drop your children off at school, can you listen to your favorite music and enjoy your drive? A few changes can give the morning hustle a new feeling.
Close your eyes
This one is a hard one for me, but 5 minutes goes a long way. If you are able to lie down, even better. If you cannot, then just take 5 minutes to close your eyes at your desk, or when you are parked in the car line waiting to pick up the kids (just make sure you are in park!). If I have been in meetings, on the computer, or with clients, it is very hard to stop, but it is worth it. I find closing my eyes and lying horizontal can really revive me.
Do what you love
If you add more of what you love to your day, you are happier. If you are happier, you are more productive, and it will also affect those around you. Is there a song that tickles your brain when you listen to it? Does dancing around the room make you smile? Is there a yoga posture you can do that will leave you happy and revived? Does scrolling on Instagram and seeing photos of your friends leave you feeling uplifted? Does searching YouTube for cat videos make you laugh out loud? Does splashing water on your face rejuvenate you? Does letting your bare feet connect with the earth ground you? If you love it, add it into your routine. The idea is to take a break and fill it with what you love. I invite you to think about at least one thing that brings you joy and add it to your day.
Water, simple, pure, beautiful, life-sustaining water. We are made of cells, cells are made of water. When we drink water, we replenish our cells and flush out toxins. There are endless benefits of drinking water. There are hundreds of types of water bottles out there — find one you love and start toting around one of the greatest resources we have in life.
If you have more than 5 minutes, then please stay outside as long as you can. But if all you have is 5 minutes, just get out there. You do not have to be on top of a mountain, or near a park, or a forest. Even opening a window and feeling the elements on your face can have an amazing effect and change your day. You can even stop and smell the flowers. If you do this intentionally for even five minutes a day, it can shift your mood. Don’t let rain or cold weather stop you!
Stretch and do yoga
Moving, stretching, and breathing all change our perspective and help us relax and rejuvenate. If you only have a short amount of time, do some light stretching and pick one pose you would like to practice. There are even stretches and poses available that you can do right at your desk. Children love to be on the floor. If you are playing with your children or reading a book, take a moment to get a good stretch in. Of course, if you have more time, do more.
Connect without screens
We love our screens; they are amazing devices that connect us to people, ideas, discussions, entertainment, and endless information, but we do need to shut them off and reconnect with what is around us. This one I suggest doing for more than 5 minutes a day. If grabbing your phone has become a habit throughout the day, try to pay attention to how often you are reaching for it. I suggest holding off for five minutes and instead taking in your surroundings, connecting with what is around you. See if you can activate all of your senses, get curious about what you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel. Being on a screen can be fulfilling, but there are a lot of times in the day it is distracting us from the moment. If possible, let yourself be in the moment, then when you have time to be on your phone, it can be with more focus. Sleep studies have also suggested for optimal sleep to shut off screens at least an hour before bed and to not use them in your bedroom.
Think of a few things you are grateful for
I aim for 3 things each evening. You can of course do this at any time of the day, but it is something that I have worked into my evening routine. It can be something that happened that day or something that you are grateful for overall. For me, this helps me wrap up the day on a positive note. There is wonderful research showing through the practice of gratitude we can train our brains to gravitate toward the things in our life that make us feel joyful.
Take time to breathe, meditate, and sleep
Right before bed when my mind quiets down is when I tend to remember all of the things that I did not do that day, and all of the things that I have to do the next day. Just write them down and move on. This day is done and tomorrow is an entirely different day. Let this day go. Take another 5 or more minutes to breathe and meditate. Go back to that positive mantra, fill your mind with that thought, and let all the other distractions melt away so you can enjoy a night of rest and start again fresh tomorrow. There is always tomorrow.
I know it can be hard, but in the end, adding self-care into your life, even for 5 minutes a day, is worth it.”
Rachel Maietta is a mom, certified parent coach, preschool teacher, and founder of Wholehearted Parent Coaching. She has worked with children of all ages, and loves to support parents. If you are interested in coaching and would like to start a 10-week parenting journey, you can receive a free consultation. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram for blogs, ideas, and parenting information, or use the form below to contact her directly.