Self-Care in the New Year: A Guide for Parents

January 6, 2019 Updated: January 6, 2019

Way to go, Mom and Dad! You made it through the holidays. You shopped, you wrapped, you cooked, you baked, you decorated, and you gave and gave and gave.

I’m sure it was magical and that the smiles on your children’s faces made all of your efforts worthwhile.

Now, it’s time to recharge those batteries. Here are 10 ways parents can practice self-care in the new year.

Schedule a Break

As the new year kicks off, we tend to want to ramp back up into our regular, work-a-day routines. However, if you haven’t afforded yourself much downtime over the holidays, now is the time to do just that.

Pencil in a mental health day from work or, if you’re a stay-at-home parent, call for childcare reinforcements, arrange for a day (or more) of rest and relaxation.

Sleep Enough

If you’ve been shaving off an hour in the mornings or some hours in the evenings to take care of the extra holiday to-do’s, now is the time to get back on track with a healthy sleep schedule.

Halt caffeine earlier in the day, stop looking at digital screens long before bedtime, turn down the lighting in your home before bed, maintain a cool temperature in your home at night, make your bedroom as comfortable as possible. Basically pull out all the stops to ensure a solid and plentiful night’s sleep each and every night.

Clean Out the Fridge

There’s nothing like the holidays to take our diets off the rails. Realign your nutrition by cleaning out the sugary and processed foods in your kitchen and replacing them with whole, nutritious options.

Prep Meals

Along the same lines, take time to prep a week’s worth of home-cooked meals for the family. Stews, soups, casseroles, chili, and roast are ideal options this time of year. All are easy to prepare in advance, can be made in large quantities, and are delicious as leftovers. What’s more, they are the hearty, warm meals best suited to our nutritional needs this time of year.

You can also chop ingredients ahead of time so they are ready to go. This way, you and your family will be eating well and not scrambling each night to come up with dinner.

Move Your Body

If it has been a while since you incorporated exercise into your life, allow the momentum of a new year to drive you to get to it. Find a type of exercise that you enjoy and start small. Walking, running, swimming, kickboxing, yoga, joining—and actually going to—a traditional gym, joining a recreational sports team, or following a workout video at home are all ways to incorporate exercise into your life.

Keep your goal simple: move every day.

Schedule Maintenance

Ensure checkups, spa treatments, and haircuts are on the calendar so that you’re taking care of your body. What’s more, if spirituality is important to you, prioritize services, retreats, etc.

Schedule Fun

Sweeten the mood of back-to-school and -work by scheduling family fun to look forward to. A weekend day trip, a mini-vacation, or even a night at the movies can be that spoonful of sugar to keep everyone in high spirits.


A messy outer space often reveals or leads to a messy inner space. Spend time making your environment one that is peaceful and inspirational to you. Start by removing the clutter.


If you don’t already, consider taking up the practice of journaling. Whether you list what you’re grateful for, write out your personal goals, or simply get your thoughts out of your head and onto paper, journaling can be surprisingly beneficial.

Rinse and Repeat

Finally, don’t let this be the only time this year you engage in self-care. Let breaks, and moments of pause and reflection, become regular parts of your life. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Take good care of yourself so you can take good care of others.

Follow Barbara on Twitter: @barbaradanza