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10 ways to take better care of yourself: Tools for busy moms

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Taking care of myself is not my right. It's my responsibility.

I’m not a big fan of the phrase “me time”. It always sounds selfish to me, and it’s usually waived around like it’s a right or entitlement.

But here’s the thing – as a Christian I believe that I don’t have any entitlements. I believe that Jesus calls us to lay it all down and follow Him. (I have many, many privileges and exceedingly great blessings… but no entitlements.)

So maybe “me time” is not something I’m entitled to, but that doesn’t mean God isn’t concerned with my personal well-being and health. (Hello! Duh.) Or that he doesn’t care about the desperate need for me to have some time alone to refresh and recharge once-in-a-while.

Of. course. he. is.

As I start this year I’m realizing that I need to be more intentional about taking care of myself. I’ve had one too many mini-meltdowns recently that I’m positive could have been avoided had I been ordering my life differently and taking care of myself more intentionally.

Taking care of myself is not my right. It’s my responsibility. If I am not responsible to do this, all of my life and relationships will suffer. (Not good, friends. Not good at all.)

10 ways to take better care of yourself - tools for busy moms.

Here are 10 ways I’m determining to take better care of myself:

Note: These are not resolutions, or even goals. These are tools to equip me to live a little better. Tools that I think can reap rewards for any woman (but especially moms of littles, like me!). Tools that I hope to begin using more instead of letting them gather dust on the shelf.

1. Have a set wake-up and bed time.

You guys, you guuuuuys. We need this, don’t we??! All the smarty-pants scientists tell us so. And—love it or hate it—we all instinctively know it’s true. (As simple as it is, this night-owl finds it an ongoing challenge.)

2. Make my bed and put away last night’s clothes before 8:00am.

I know this is just a little thing, but I really feel better when I do this. (And I need a deadline. I’m good with deadlines.)

3. Eat breakfast and lunch.

When I get busy or stressed, eating good meals is the first thing to go. I never miss dinner, because dinner is family time, but I can easily feed the kids lunch and think I’ll eat when they go down for naps… and then I forget to rewind and head back to the kitchen once they do because I’m busy launching into task mode. Not okay.

4. Read every day, even just one chapter.

Skimming doesn’t count! I need to read slowly enough to actually take it in. I’ve been doing this a lot lately and it’s so good for my soul.

5. Have a scheduled evening each week that I set aside for communication tasks.

I’m talking about tasks like answering (non-urgent) emails, responding to comments on the blog, writing thank you’s, etc. I’m hoping that if I know I only do these once a week, it will alleviate the pressure and guilt of not doing them the rest of the week. Cuz really, it’s the (false) guilt that wears me down. (Tell me you can relate to this. Please?)

6. Get out once a week on my own for a couple of hours.

(Solo grocery shopping doesn’t count… but it sure is nice!) When I don’t get some regular time on my own, my perspective begins to crash and burn, and my capacity to handle stress drastically diminishes. I’m fortunate to have a husband who recognizes this… and is often almost pushing me out the door on the weekend to “go to a coffee shop!” by myself for an hour or two. Problem is, I often decline so I can stay home and cross “really important things” off lists. Time to start listening to my hubby more.

7. Make sure I get outside every day.

This means playing with the boys in the yard, going for a walk around the neighborhood, sitting outside for a few minutes while I have my morning coffee, something… anything. (Time spent walking to from the house to the car doesn’t count!) I’m blessed to live in a climate where this is possible so I really want to be maximizing it.

8. Say “yes” to others less and “yes” to building in margin for my littles and husband more.

Honestly? This last year I said ‘yes’ too much and to too many. I was not careful with my time and was left always pining for more hours in the day. This year, I want to be quicker to pause to listen and think decisions through, and slower to speak and commit. I’m realizing that I can’t afford to not curb my multi-tasking tendencies, and I desperately want to create more margin in my life.

9. Set a few routines into place that will serve me and serve my family.

By nature I don’t like to have schedules. Even though I’m a planner I still like my freedom to go with the flow and be spontaneous within my lists. But I’m realizing that my distaste for routines is actually a hindrance in some areas. Time to change this. (I’m looking specifically at my morning routine and evening routines, as well as a little bit more structured learning time for the littles.)

10. Play more music.

I adore music. Always have. I need music in my life to refresh my soul and spirit so this year I want to be more intentional about turning it up! More dance parties with the littles. More “band practice” with our toddler instruments (or even playing my own guitar). And more filling my mind with thoughtful lyrics, get-under-your-skin melodies and good, groovin’ rhythm while actually sitting down just to listen every once-and-a-while. (I used to do that! So hard to imagine these days… but I think it’s possible!)

 

Like I said as I began this post – these are not new goals or resolutions for me. These are tools for building a better life that I already have in my belt (and I suspect that you do too). This year, I’m just determining to use them a little more.

Again, taking care of myself is not my right… but it certainly is my responsibility. And yours too.

Dear friends, how are you taking care of yourselves these days? Or—ahem—do you need to start?

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12 Comments

  • Reply Kate Baltrotsky 24 January 2013 at 11:34 pm

    Love it! I need to put on my to do list… send out ring sling package that has been sitting on my dresser to Mommyhood Memos… STAT!

  • Reply Katherine 25 January 2013 at 4:40 am

    I’m trying to do one thing at a time these days. No multi-tasking. (Because some people multitask well, but lately it just leaves me tired and frazzled).

    That’s how I’m taking care of myself!
    Katherine recently posted..How “Let It Go” is GoingMy Profile

  • Reply Jennifer Burklow 25 January 2013 at 6:55 am

    I just had a daughter in October…my first little :) I’m so blessed that my husband & I were able to work it out so that I didn’t have to return to my job. Since I no longer work outside of the home, I fooled myself into thinking it didn’t matter what time I went to bed, because it didn’t matter what time I woke up in the morning. WRONG! I’m currently working on a better morning & evening routine, going to bed at a consistent time so I don’t feel like a sloth all day. It makes me feel better physically, I’m much more productive, & it helps a lot with a new baby at home to have some structure!
    Jennifer Burklow recently posted..Inauguration DayMy Profile

  • Reply Rochelle Dunsbergen 25 January 2013 at 11:37 am

    Yep, yep, yep. All 10 are so true. I am constantly reminded that I need to do this, but often struggle to identify how. This list is very helpful. Also, I’m curious how you will implement #9. For sure this is hard for me. I am the perfectionist procrastinator who somehow doesn’t want to structure my day too much but am realizing that is totally working against me with the kids and making me crazy (mini-meltdowns!) on a regular basis. So, I know I need to set some routines, but I don’t want it to be too rigid. I tend to be all or nothing so finding a good balance is a constant challenge for me.

    • Reply Adriel Booker 25 January 2013 at 4:19 pm

      i can identify with everything you said!

      right now, i’m focusing on my morning and nighttime routines. morning: up at 6, read bible, check emails and respond to ONLY time-sensitive ones (or those that can be responded to very quickly – like 1-2 sentences), plan my goals for the day, and shower! if i can get all of this done by 7:30, then i am golden (my hubs leaves for work close to 8:00 and does breaky with the boys). nighttimes – 10 minute walk around the house (while ryan has the boys in the bath) to pick up random out-of-place stuff and put it in my basket to be emptied when i get to whatever room the thing is supposed to go in. (only one loop around the house – no backtracking!) and then be in bed by 10pm and read (but lights out by 10:30!).

      i’m still working on finding some routine for the boys. testing some stuff out now – trial and error to see what fits for us. ask me again in a month or two! 😉
      Adriel Booker recently posted..Teaching my son to pull his pants up, and teaching me to face my own weaknessMy Profile

  • Reply Ruth 25 June 2014 at 11:09 am

    Good stuff.

    I have to admit… I’m a little obsessed with routines:) I wasn’t at all until I had my twins but establishing little routines in each new phase has really helped me, not just cope but thrive.

    And sleep… oh my! Sleep is one of the most spiritual practices I’ve ever learned to appreciate! :)

  • Reply Tuomela 28 February 2016 at 9:25 am

    “Me time”….” Time alone”… same thing no matter how you package it. A great way to take care of yourself is to get rid of the guilt surrounding it. I don’t justify my “me time” by calling it a different name. We are all allowed to have that time we need. No disclaimer or justification necessary.

    • Reply Veronica 12 May 2016 at 10:54 pm

      Amen, Tuomela!

  • Reply Veronica 12 May 2016 at 10:33 pm

    In the Scripture our bodies and spirits are likened to the church; they are our temples that house the Holy Spirit. Come on now, do you really think that giving the Holy Spirit sub-par care/housing is acceptable? Jesus not only made sure the church was well tended, he fought to defend it from disrespect (and we can disrespect ourselves.) So, not only is self-care a RIGHT (because we are children of the King,) it is a necessity and an obligation. To whom much is given, much is expected. We are called to be humble, not self-deprecating in thought and action.

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