Fill Up Your Tank: Self-Care for Moms

Published on April 19, 2020 - Updated on April 21, 2020

Taking Small Steps to Secure a Future of Wellness Choices

As moms, we can sometimes feel like an emergency car. We carry so much responsibility for the little people around us, need to be everywhere at the same time to entertain, cook, clean up (some days it feels like 90% of parenthood is wiping) and are always in a rush, with very little time left for ourselves. 

We all know self-care is of paramount importance for our mental health. It makes us better parents, it gives us a chance to find back to ourselves, even if just for a moment. 

But knowing is different from doing

Self-care starts with realizing that you DESERVE this time. Let’s go back to the emergency car example. If you haven’t filled up the gas tank, you can’t go anywhere. If you fill up your tank with the wrong gas, the engine will break down*.  As they say on flights: put your own oxygen mask on before you help others. Simply put, if you don’t take care of yourself first, you won’t be able to take care of others. You need to eat, you need to sleep, you need to exercise and you need to feel like you are a functioning human being. 

The constant question we have is: when on earth can I take care of myself? Where can I find an hour to myself between running errands and entertaining kids? By the time they are in bed all you might want to do is curl up on the couch and watch Netflix (a form of self-care, yay!)

This blog post is not about suggesting you should practice yoga for an hour a day, take a long warm bath or get a pedicure - though this may be something to aim towards. But for now, let’s start small. 

Taking small first steps is key to self-care. The first step can often be the hardest, but also the most transformational. Once we take it, inner resourcefulness can present itself in unexpected ways. 

How about you start with 1 minute, 3 minutes, 5 minutes every day doing one thing that is just for you? Create a small pocket of time just for yourself. Here are 3 simple ideas to start with:

Just breathe: Yes, that’s it. Sit or lie down and mindfully observe your breath as it enters and leaves your nostrils. Say to yourself silently with each inhale: inhale. And with each exhale: exhale. Try to breathe deep into the belly and you’ll instantly feel calmer and more energetic, as deep belly breathing increases the supply of oxygen and nutrients to all of your cells. 

Stretch and move your body: 1 downward-facing dog, 1 Yoga sun salutation or 1 walk or sprint around the block. Exercise is the quickest way to release the happy hormone serotonin.


Throwback time: Sometimes we just want to feel like our ‘old’ self, reconnect with who we were. Do something that you used to enjoy doing in your life before having children. Wear that favorite top of yours. Dance to some tunes that make you feel you are 25 again, without a worry or care in the world (or very different ones…ha). Cook a dish that used to make you feel like a Michelin-star chef. Get creative and let the juices flow that are still within you. 

Once you tried some of these steps, ask yourself: how do I feel different now? What has shifted? What do I need more of? 

The next step is to incorporate self-care time in your daily routine and make it a habit.  Can you borrow a couple of minutes of your evening wind down routine to do something just for yourself that feels good? Can you ask your partner/mother/neighbor to watch the kids for ten minutes longer? Can you postpone or ask for help with cleaning up? Asking for, and accepting help, is a tremendously important self-care strategy that many of us need to learn. 

The brain usually needs twenty-one days to recognize a new habit, so be patient and keep it up. You actually do have the power to rewire your brain to more positive thoughts and more mental (and physical) energy. Once you get started your brain and body will want more of the good stuff. After a while you can start increasing the time-out for yourself. Maybe an hour of yoga or that pedicure becomes possible. 

Let’s recap:

  1. You not only deserve ME time, it is essential.  
  2. Start with small steps. 
  3. Make it a habit. 

“Self-care is giving the world the best of you, instead of what’s left of you.”(Katie Reed)

Note: In times of quarantine at home, self-care is even more relevant. This is an unprecedented time for all of us. The old normal doesn’t exist now. Ask for more help from your spouse. Come up with a flexible schedule for yourself and the kids. Lower the bar. Reset your expectations. The house may not look as tidy as you’d usually like it, things may fall through the cracks. Can you be okay with it for a while? Can you practice kindness and forgiveness to yourself? When in doubt, go back to your deep belly breathing – and know you are not alone in this. 

* Happened to me once, thanks Dad for picking me up from the side of the road and paying the astronomical bill for the damaged engine. 

What's working well for you and your family? We look forward to hearing from you at 

We welcome you to check out our blog for more inspiration from a list of Ten Tips For Parents Working From Home, join as we Run For Fun With Our Kids or creative ways to Banish Boredom in light of social distancing.

Also, please take a moment to explore this week’s happyly Survival Toolbox, including our Daily Schedule designed to create positive days at home with your family. As always, we welcome your family's highlights! Tag us on Instagram @gethappyly!

Thoughtfully captured by:
Monika Friedman
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