Making time for yourself when you're a single mum can feel impossible. My children were nine, ten and thirteen when I became a single parent, and boy, was it a shock to the system. I know we all struggle to put ourselves first, but investing in self-care pays off in the long run. It's hard shifting your mindset enough to prioritise maintaining your balance and happiness, but incorporating self-care into your daily routine doesn't have to be complicated or time-consuming.
In this blog post, I've listed ten easy ways to prioritise self-care, drawing from my experiences as a busy mum. So, please grab a cup of tea, coffee, or milo, and dive into these practical self-care tips.
Get up a few minutes earlier
Okay, this is tricky for many single mums, especially those with poor sleepers (I remember those days, nights, hours, and minutes), so stay with me here! This one tip can make a significant difference to your day. Why? Setting your alarm for ten minutes earlier gives you ten minutes to practice some deep breathing exercises or plan your day. You could set a positive intention for the day or enjoy a few moments of solitude before the household wakes up.
Burn incense and engage in mindful activities
Every mummy blogger or influencer seems to recommend practicing mindfulness, and it's no surprise. Mindfulness works, which is why I've included it in this list. Burning incense while practicing mindfulness can enhance the experience.
I like to use a waterfall incense burner, which I keep on a chest of drawers in my bedroom. I let the delicious aroma fill my senses while I practice, as it calms me and fills me with joy. Whether practicing yoga, journaling, or engaging in a creative hobby, these moments of self-expression allow you to tap into your inner self and unwind. Being fully present in these activities can cultivate a sense of calm and nourish your soul. The more you practice, the better you'll get at it.
Embrace mini breaks
Short breaks throughout the day can help you find small moments to recharge. You could step outside for a few deep breaths of fresh air or savour a cup of your favourite herbal tea. Hang out the clothes, then take a few minutes in the garden to stretch your back or, my favourite, jump up and down to reinvigorate the body. (Try it – it works!) I like burning incense when working from home, as it creates a serene environment and promotes mindfulness even when responding to corporate emails. Small pauses and mini breaks can help you regain focus, reduce stress, and calm your mind, injecting tranquility into a hectic schedule.
"But you told us to get up earlier in tip 1!" I see the irony here. However, sleep is crucial for overall well-being and energy levels, even though it can be elusive for mums. Establishing a bedtime routine is essential for your kids but also critical for you. A bedtime routine sends signals to your body and mind to relax and unwind. Try to turn off electronic devices at least an hour before bed to promote better sleep quality – while it's hard to resist the pull of the late-night Instagram scroll, a well-rested mum is better equipped to handle the demands of the day.
Nurture your body
Many mums can feel like their body isn't their own anymore – and this is normal. You're used to being climbed over, pulled, covered in food, sneezed on, and all the rest. It can be easy to neglect your physical health. Try to make exercise a priority. Even a fifteen-minute walk outside can calm the mind and increase serotonin levels. Nourish your body with nutritious meals, stay hydrated, and exercise regularly. It is crucial to include pampering yourself with small indulgences, like having a relaxing bath enhanced with scented oils or using an invigorating body scrub. Remember, taking care of your body is an act of self-love and sets an excellent example for your children.
Boundary setting is another tricky one. But don't be afraid to set boundaries to carve out time for yourself. Communicate your needs with your loved ones and set designated periods for uninterrupted self-care. It could be as simple as reading a book, walking, or enjoying a cup of tea in solitude. Boundaries are essential for maintaining balance and preserving your mental and emotional well-being.
Connect with nature
Everything seems better when you're outside. Getting outside can put things back into perspective if you're feeling stressed and overwhelmed by the housework or screaming kids. Spending time in nature has a therapeutic effect on our minds and bodies. Make it a point to connect with nature regularly, whether walking with a friend in the mornings, gardening, or simply sitting outside and basking in the sunlight. Engaging your senses in a natural environment can rejuvenate your spirit and provide a much-needed break from the demands of daily life.
When life is stressful, losing sight of the wonder in our lives can be easy. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude can impact your overall well-being in a significant way. Take a few minutes each day to reflect on what you are grateful for, no matter how small. It could be how your kids laugh in the bath, a kind gesture from a friend, or a peaceful moment of self-reflection. I write a gratitude list in my journal, which helps shift my perspective, promotes positivity, and reminds me of the blessings in my life.
Create a support network
Remember, you don't have to do it alone. Creating a support network can help ease the stress in your life. Reach out to loved ones, friends, or other mums who understand your journey. Surround yourself with like-minded individuals who can offer advice, encouragement, and empathy. Sometimes, simply sharing your experiences can be therapeutic and help alleviate the challenges of motherhood.
I know this sounds very 'Eat, Pray, Love," but it’s incredible how different you can feel when you identify and prioritise moments of joy. During your busy life, remember to engage in activities that bring you happiness and allow you to unwind. Whether listening to your favourite music, dancing around the living room with your kids, or simply ordering a fancy takeaway coffee to sip while watching your kids play soccer on a cold morning, make time for these moments of pure joy. Your happiness matters and incorporating moments of joy into your daily routine can help you recharge and embrace the beauty of motherhood.
If you can't do all of these – pick one
Incorporating self-care into your daily routine as a busy mum doesn't have to be overwhelming. Integrating even one of these ten easy and practical tips into your everyday life can create a nurturing environment that promotes well-being, balance, and happiness. You are worth it.