How to practice self-care when you have no time

Are you tired and worn out, Mama? I know all about that. You know deep down that you need to slow down and take a break, but how? Time is a commodity. There is so much to do, and everyone needs you, all the time. Self-care is what you need, but you just have no time for it. If this sounds familiar, then keep reading for ideas to fit in some crucial self-care when you have no time.

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What is self-care?

Self-care used to conjure up images of bubble-baths, manicures and chocolate for me. This is not what it’s really about.

Self-care is simply doing things to take care of you, both physically and mentally.

Self-care can be as simple as getting enough sleep, eating some extra fruit and veggies, taking a shower, having a cup of coffee, or doing some deep-breathing exercises.

It can be reading a book, exercising, meeting friends, spending time with family, going out, or shopping.

Some people find a nice warm bubble-bath and a manicure makes them feel happier. If so, then this is great self-care.

Personally, I’m not a fan of either.

For me, self-care would be blogging away with a cup of tea, a walk along the beach in the warm sun, or cuddling up with my husband, some chocolate, and a good rom-com.

We are all different and what works for one person, won’t necessarily work for another. Self-care is whatever makes you feel happier, more energised and more positive about life in the long-term.

Why is self-care so vital?

Most of us would agree that it is vital to care for our kids and look after them to make sure they are healthy and happy.

It’s exactly the same for us.

If we don’t take the time to care for ourselves, we will suffer the consequences. We will feel run-down, tired, overwhelmed, anxious, and lacking in motivation and purpose.

Creative Ways to get Self Care as a Busy Mom with No Time. Image of a lady looking out to sea on a lovely sunset.
How to Make Time for Self Care as a Busy Mom

5 ways to practice self-care when you have no time

1. Find ways to create some time

Sometimes when we don’t have time, we just have to make it.

When it’s something as important as looking after your mental health, it’s worth prioritising.

This could be by giving your kids an extra half hour of TV so you can enjoy a cup of coffee and read a magazine, or it could be waking up a little earlier.

Once the kids are old enough to go off and play by themselves, soft play is an option if you are able to drown out background noise and have a cuppa and read your book.

If your kid has an activity they do each week, you could plan in some self-care then.

It’s definitely worth having a think about any opportunities you have during the week to schedule in some time for your mental well-being.

2. Swap childcare

We are not all in the position of having a partner to share the load with. Even if we do, they may work long hours or be away from home a lot.

Sometimes it can help to trade childcare with a friend.

Why not find another worn out mum who you trust and make a deal that once a week you take her kids for an hour or two and she does the same for you. She will most likely love that you suggested it!

We are all in this together. If you don’t already have a ‘mum friend’ you could do this with, then check out my article, The Best Tips to find ‘Mum Friends’ easily.

3. Find ways to rest with the kids

I find a trip to the beach is so soothing for my soul. It makes me feel relaxed and at ease, feeling the sand between my toes and breathing that fresh sea air.

I’m blessed to live close to some lovely beaches and in the summer months will take the kids out to them a fair bit. When they were little, they would sit and play on a picnic rug with me. We would build sandcastles and eat snacks.

As they get older they will sometimes play together, without me, and I just sit and soak in the scene, or we paddle in the sea together, build sandcastles or go for a walk.

If you don’t live near the beach, or the weather isn’t so nice, there are loads of other ways to practice self-care whilst caring for your kids.

At times I have found that even a buggy walk in the pouring rain makes me feel a lot better.

Getting outside is so good for mental well-being.

A friend of mine will go hiking with her baby in a carrier on her back. If your kids are older they might enjoy a pamper session, cinema trip, or coffee shop date with you.

I have found that colouring in together or doing a puzzle quietly with one of my kids can be great self-care for me.

It’s just about finding what works for you, with your kids.

If you’re ever really, really, short of time and need a quick pick-me-up, there are some great deep breathing exercises that you can do in about 2 minutes. That means you can even do them on the loo if you have to! If you want to learn more, then check out, 10 Breathing Exercises to Try for Stress Relief and More.

4. Model and teach self-care skills

It’s great if you can model self-care to your kids.

Creating some protected self-care time and then purposely resting is a great example to set for your kids.

As we all know, kids learn more from watching us than listening to us!

This is not a quick fix, but it is a sustainable long-term solution. Chat together about the need for, and importance of, self-care and discuss what you all find relaxing. It’s different for everyone. Agree that you will all help make sure everyone in the family gets an opportunity to take care of their mental health.

I have heard that a number of home-schooling mums will schedule half an hour, or an hour, a day for resting.

This is particularly helpful if you still have little ones napping. This independent resting time allows the kids, and the mum, to read, play quietly, do a puzzle, sit and think, have a cuppa, or whatever they want to do quietly and independently.

It benefits the kids as much as the mum. Learning to take time and prioritise rest from a young age will help them so much as they grow.

5. Consider your schedule

Sometimes time can be made for self-care by altering our schedules a bit.

When I realised that blogging was a form of self-care for me, I began looking for ways to make time for this.

My husband and I decided to give each other a weekend morning ‘off” each week. So from the hours of 6am-9am on a Saturday morning, you will find me happily blogging away while my husband spends time with our kids. Then I give him the same on a Sunday morning to read, walk, or game on the computer.

It’s worked so well for us and we realised that actually our kids don’t need both of us about for those early hours on the weekend. There is still plenty of time for family activities later in the day.

Would something similar to this work for you? If not, there are other things to consider too.

Some mums will wake a little earlier than their kids, to get a little rest before the rest of their family wakes up?

At the other end of the day, you could use the time when the kids are in bed to relax.

Perhaps if you currently spend it doing jobs, you could fit them into your daytime schedule by giving the kids an extra half hour of TV, some independent play time, or encouraging them to help out.

Sometimes it’s the little bits of time that we make for ourselves that make all the difference. If a half-hour of self-care helps you be a better mum, then its worth the little ones watching a little extra TV to have a calmer, happier mum.

As a working mum, could you extend their childcare by half an hour to give yourself time for a cuppa, a quick gym session, or walk after work? If you’re a stay-at-home mum of little ones, could you use their nap time for some self-care? This is not meant as an exhaustive list. I hope that by giving some suggestions of what works for me, and others I know, you can start planning what would work for you.

Further support

If your mental health needs more than self-care to get back on track, then please get some help.

You can talk to your GP for support, or check out these resources for mental health on the NHS website.

If you need someone to talk to anonymously, you can call the Samaritans anytime, for free, on 116 123.

Self-care when you have no time

I hope this article has given you some quick and easy ideas to help you make time for self-care when you have no time.

I’ve purposefully kept this article short, as I know you’re short on time.

If you’re looking for more self-care tips, then check out Feel Happy More Often with these 23 simple tips.

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