For Busy Moms: Self-Care in 5 Minutes a Day

April 16, 2019 Updated: April 16, 2019

Time-pressed moms can find inspiration in a new book from mental skills coach Sara Robinson. She packs more than 150 ideas in “Self-Care for Moms” (Adams Media, $15.99) for mothers looking to incorporate ways to take care of themselves into their routine.

The activities are organized by how much time you need, from 5 minutes all the way to a whole day. They range from gentle, quick mental resets like lighting candles or listening to a favorite song (5 minutes each) to longer activities such as giving yourself a facial or planning a date night (30 minutes each).

Here are three helpful ideas excerpted from Robinson’s book. The first takes five minutes, the second 15 minutes, and the last 30 minutes.

Add Flowers to Your Home

For moms, flowers often come for special occasions, but why not give every day a burst of color and happiness? Get in the habit of picking up an inexpensive bouquet on your weekly shopping trip (many stores have $5 bouquets), or cut flowers from your backyard. Arrange the flowers in a vase or in multiple vases if you prefer, and place them in spaces where you’ll see them often but also are out of the way of your kids. Remember, toddlers can usually reach further than you think they can, and older kids still throw balls in the house even when you remind them not to. Put the flowers on your bedside table to help make your room more of a personal sanctuary, or set them in a family space for all to enjoy.

This is easy self-care because you’re already out shopping. It only takes an extra minute or so to walk to the floral section and pick out the bouquet, and only a couple minutes more at home to put them in a vase. But the emotional self-care benefits can last for days … hopefully until your next trip to the store, when you can pick up another bouquet. If finances are tight but you like the idea of fresh flowers, ask the florist for a small bouquet of carnations and baby’s breath, or replace one unnecessary grocery item with some flowers. For example, don’t let your kids throw in two boxes of sugary cereal; they can have one, and you can have your self-care!

Get Up 15 Minutes Early

Mornings can be chaotic when you have kids, even if you’re organized and have routines in place. Once everyone is up, especially on weekdays, it’s usually about checking things off the list so you can get out the door. Instead of starting your day with everyone else, consider getting a head start. Waking up even 15 minutes before your family can make a huge difference in how the morning activities go, and that can influence the rest of your day. (That said, if you have a kid who is a super-early riser and keeps busy in the morning, you don’t need to get up 15 minutes before that kid; get up 15 minutes before the day really starts at your house.)

Use your extra 15 minutes in whatever way is best for you. Do a self-care activity with this time: sit in silence, do some breathing exercises, or pray, and start your day feeling grounded. Another option is to check a practical task off your list, like balancing your checkbook or getting things situated around the house so that the morning flows better. Basically, your goal is to start your day off in the way you want, rather than being influenced by the amped-up (sometimes moody) energy that can happen once kids are awake and everyone is trying to get out of the house.

Get Out of the House

If you’re one of the many moms who work from home (either with a paid job or as a stay-at-home mom), you’re home a lot. Sometimes you just need to get away. Even if you work out of the house, you might sometimes feel like you’re spending a lot of time at home. And when you do go out, it’s typically with your kids and you’re on a mission to accomplish something. Plan 30 minutes in your schedule, when your partner is home or when a neighbor can watch the kids, or even when you might be home without the kids but normally would be doing chores, and just leave the house. Take a walk, drive to get coffee, or simply get a chore done, like grabbing some milk.

When we spend too much time at home, even when things are pleasant and running well, being indoors, in the same space all day, can begin to feel suffocating. Changing up your scenery allows for mental and emotional self-care. When you go out, it can be helpful to get some social interaction, even if it means interacting with people you don’t know. Whether or not you interact with others, it’s useful to remove yourself physically and mentally from your house from time to time. If your kids are young and you have no one to watch them, try to find ways to spend some time outside alone. For example, sit in your backyard or on the front steps while your kids nap. This may not be truly getting away from the house, but this self-care doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing activity.

Excerpted from “Self-Care for Moms” by Sara Robinson, MA. Copyright 2019 by Simon & Schuster Inc. Used with permission of the publisher, Adams Media, a division of Simon & Schuster. All rights reserved.