Have you ever heard the saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup?” As a parent, you might chuckle at that statement. Your cup might not be empty, but if there’s coffee in it, it’s probably cold by now since you’ve taken care of everyone else before sitting down for a sip.
Photo by Taryn Elliott
We’re living in a fast-paced world of parenting, and finding time for self-care can often feel like an elusive dream. You might even feel guilty just thinking about it. But, self-care isn’t selfish, and it isn’t impossible. No matter how busy you are, there are strategies you can use to weave self-care into your hectic schedule.
By embracing “micro self-care” practices, you can prioritize your well-being, promote balance, and boost resilience amid life’s chaos.
Mindfulness has gained a lot of traction in recent years, but it’s not a new practice. It’s the art of staying in the present, and focusing on the moment. That doesn’t mean thoughts and worries won’t try to make their way in. But, while you’re practicing mindfulness, you’ll let those thoughts pass you by, like clouds you can’t hold onto.
Mindfulness might seem like something you need to carve out a large chunk of time for, but that’s not necessarily true. You can integrate mindfulness into your daily life in a variety of ways without sacrificing your schedule.
Start small and set a goal for yourself. If you want to practice mindfulness for 20 minutes each day, start with five minutes when you have some free time. Once you start to see the benefits of things like deep breathing and being more in tune with your body and surroundings, you’ll likely make more time to reach that goal. The most important thing is that you’re willing to let go. You’ll get the most out of mindfulness — whether it’s five minutes or 30 — if you don’t overthink it. Find what works for you. Some people do better with their eyes closed, some people need to sit in different positions or have a dedicated space. Switch things up until you find a length of time and a way to practice that allows you a few minutes of relaxation and focus that can greatly improve your mental well-being.
Fitting in fitness
You don’t have to run a marathon or hit the gym for an hour every day to make fitness a priority in your busy life. You can turn physical activity into micro-moments of self-care each day by splitting things up into short bursts. You don’t even have to break a sweat to get moving. Try things like:
- Taking a walk around the block
- Stretching for ten minutes after waking up
- Jumping up and down 20 times
- Dancing to your favorite song
When you have time, you should absolutely get a longer workout in. Regular exercise comes with countless benefits. Not only will it boost your energy, but it can improve your mood, reduce stress, and keep you physically fit while strengthening your muscles and bones, so you can keep chasing after and scooping up your little ones!
Don’t let location restraints keep you from fitting in fitness. Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to work out at home. There are thousands of workout routines available online — and many of them are free! You can follow along with a video, or just turn on your favorite music and utilize a space in your home as a gym. The garage is often the perfect place to add some simple equipment like hand weights, and you can sneak in a quick workout early in the morning while your family is still sleeping without having to leave home or risk disturbing them.
If you’re a working parent, it can feel like a constant struggle to find a work-life balance that gives you time to take care of yourself and your family all at once. But, one of the best ways to strike that balance is to create realistic routines for yourself that incorporate self-care throughout your day.
Obviously, your routine will look different from someone else’s. It’s about finding what works for you and what provides you the most care and relaxation in a short amount of time. For example, you could take five extra minutes before bed each night to incorporate a short skincare routine. Even low-maintenance skincare has multiple benefits, including:
- Reduced stress
- Increased blood flow
- Better protection against pollution and UV rays
- Healthier-looking skin with fewer lines and wrinkles
Want to incorporate more self-care habits into your routine? Try journaling for five minutes during your lunch break. Cook several healthy meals on the weekend and store them in the fridge so you can feel good about what you’re feeding your family all week. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. These small changes can make a big difference in how you feel, and they won’t take a lot of time out of your day. The more you incorporate small moments of self-care into your daily routine, the easier it will be for them to become habits. After a while, you won’t need to think about them — you’ll start to do them automatically.
You can’t pour from an empty cup, and you don’t have to. Micro-moments of self-care can go a long way in helping to fill that cup. When you take better care of yourself, you can take better care of your family.