25 Ways Busy Parents Can Squeeze in Self-Care
When you’re a busy parent, your own well-being often falls to the bottom of your to-do list. And even the thought of planning a self-care routine or a special outing in search of relaxation can feel daunting.
But self-care doesn’t need to be extravagant or take a lot of time and planning. Often, fitting in small new habits or rituals to elevate your mood can go a long way. A quick beauty treatment, an intentional break from work and the kids, or a few minutes dedicated to your own happiness and wellness can be the perfect antidote to a stressful day. The more small self-care practices you incorporate into your daily life, the better you’ll feel overall. Start small with one or two. And soon, they might pave the way for longer, more restorative stints.
If you’re strapped for time between work and the kids, consider this hack: Pull out your paper or computer calendar and block off time for your own self-care. That’s right: we’re telling you to make an appointment with yourself and keep it. Even if it’s only 10 minutes long, the impact can last all day…or longer! Here are some ideas for how to use that time once you put it on the schedule.
Let’s Get Physical!
Experts agree that exercise is helpful for better sleep, overall wellness, and a serotonin boost. But sometimes the mere thought of cramming a workout class or lengthy fitness routine into an already packed schedule can send us into stress overdrive, which doesn’t help. Instead, start small and be sneaky to get your physical fix…
Do 20 minutes of yoga.
You only need a phone or computer, wi-fi, and enough room to do some simple moves. Find a 20-minute yoga flow on YouTube, then get back to your day.
Take a walk.
(...or a hike or a run.) Getting active doesn’t need to be complicated and it doesn’t even necessarily require workout clothes. A walk around the block is exercise, too!
Drop and plank.
All it takes is a minute, and that burn feels so good when you’re done.
Put Good In; Get Good Out
Nutrition and hydration are so important when we’re trying to take better care of ourselves. And while sometimes it’s fun to indulge in that burger or ice cream sundae you’ve been craving, make sure to practice self-care by mindfully reaching for some optimal choices every day, too.
Drink more water.
Add ice and fresh lemon juice to make it feel more exciting refreshing. Or buy a special water bottle that you fill up and commit to emptying every day.
Make a superfood smoothie.
Bananas. Kale. Berries. Oat milk. Ice. Blend. Done! Look at how well you just treated yourself, and it only took a couple of minutes.
Try a smart swap.
Love oven fries? Try air-frying hand-cut potato wedges. Taco Tuesday? Pair that margarita with lettuce-wrapped tacos in lieu of a standard tortilla. Quick and easy healthful choices always feel good.
Be More Mindful
We all know that getting centered and focusing on our breathing can help reduce stress. But how many of us are making the time to do that? The good news for busy parents looking for self-care tips is this: even a little bit of mindfulness is better than none at all. Why not…
Hide your phone from yourself.
Drop it in a kitchen basket dubbed “the no-phone zone,” or just leave it charging in the other room while you go outside or downstairs to play with the kids or take a walk. Endless scrolling and instant replies are draining…take a break!
Meditate for a few minutes.
Sure, learning proper meditation techniques can be helpful in reaching ultimate relaxation and actualization. But for busy parents, sometimes self-care looks more like five minutes in a broom closet focusing on the darkness behind your closed eyes. No idea what to focus your whirring mind on as you meditate? Fortunately, there are lots of apps these days to guide you!
Take a deep breath.
No time to meditate? Cool. One deep, cleansing breath in through your nose and out through your mouth is a baby step toward more mindful choices later on.
Set the Mood
Half the problem is the stress of the mess. It can be so hard for parents, especially of young children, to actually relax when there are laundry piles to put away and countertops to wipe down. A great “cheat” is to keep one or two areas of the home largely clutter-free, so that you have an escape when you need to chill out and indulge in some self-care. Also, try a few simple tricks to amplify your routines and living space.
Light a candle.
It takes just a few seconds…and suddenly you’re at the spa. Pick out your favorite scents and get lit! (Of course, keep candles far away from tiny hands.) If you have a little extra time, consider a candle you mix and pour yourself, like the exquisite smelling line from Siblings, which reduces waste by turning an old candle holder or any glass vessel into your next favorite candle.
Use a prettier glass.
Sometimes all you need to do a little something extra special for yourself is to pour that beverage of choice into a better-looking glass. Don’t have any pretty glasses in the house? Sounds like a good excuse to hit up the antique or thrift store this weekend (another form of self-care!).
Paint a wall.
The act of using our hands and minds to get creative is soothing for the soul. And if you channel that creative energy into making-over a wall in your home, you’ll also create a relaxing space you can keep revisiting. Consider painting a pale blue or green accent wall in a common area of your home on your next day off.
Be Good to Your Skin and Body
Just like eating well and drinking plenty of water is a form of self-care, you need to treat your outsides well, too. sure where to start? Here are a few ideas…
Do a foot or eye mask.
A full facial might be out of the question, but cooling eye patches, callus-removing foot masks, and other similar products offer efficient pampering you can enjoy in your own home.
Get a 10-minute massage.
Call a nail salon and book a 10-minute massage for this afternoon; it’s a quick, affordable, and easy way to take good care of yourself.
Stretch your body.
All of the above too pricey or time-consuming for today? Got it. Take five minutes for a few simple stretches. Reach your arms overhead, twist your trunk do a standing hamstring stretch, tilt your neck from side to side…whatever your body needs. Ahhhh, that’s better.
Sleep More and Better
SLEEP. The holy grail of parenting, and yet it’s something that many of us do not put on as high a pedestal as we should. The fact is many parents find those late night hours to be some of the only “me-time” they can carve out. But staying up late doesn’t do you any favors in the morning, so consider some of these techniques to get more zzz’s and feel like a better you…
Go to bed earlier.
Start your routine a full hour earlier than you normally do. Turn out the lights, put on a white noise machine, and give yourself the gift of sleep!
Take a power nap.
Your kiddos aren’t the only ones who benefit from a midday snooze. A 20-minute nap can do a WORLD of good for you, too!
Try an eye pillow.
...for more restful sleep, and puff-free eyes tomorrow.
It might seem counterintuitive to put more effort in and get relaxation out, but a creative outlet is a fulfilling way to practice self-care. If you have a favorite hobby or creative interest, carve out time in your day or week to work in that medium, unrelated to work or profit! Or, try one of these ideas!
Do a little project.
Puttering around the house making things pretty feels great. Tackle a to-do list item like making over a thrift store furniture find or rearrange your closet in rainbow order. Sometimes something as simple as this can be self-care.
Write in a journal.
...or to a friend. No time to be wordy? A one-line-a-day gratitude journal is the perfect place to start.
Isn’t today a great day to try and squeeze a little something extra out of life? Remember before you had children when much of your time was spent figuring out what you wanted and making that happen? Having fun just for the sake of having fun? Yeah, you’re still in there…
Read a good book.
Whether you’re craving mystery or humor, reach for a book that will let you escape from life for a little bit.
Make plans with friends.
...No kids allowed!
It’s the most basic form of self-care, but it’s also the one we forget the most! It doesn’t need to be a major extravagance, but you should dedicate at least a small portion of the entertainment budget to the person that holds it all together… YOU.
Buy yourself flowers.
Whether you sign up for a monthly subscription or pick some up at the supermarket, spend at least a few dollars a week on fresh florals to make you feel cared for and happy.
Get a car wash.
That new car smell! That bright, fresh feeling of showing up at work or to the carpool in a clean car! These are small pleasures that can really turn a day around.
Splurge on lounge wear.
You deserve to feel comfy and cute! Need we say more?
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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.