45 Self-Care Practices for Busy Parents

Do you have those friends who read three books a week, do yoga before work, take long evening walks with their partner, and can't stop talking about how great meditation is for your mental health? Yes, me too...and they don't have children.

As a mother of a 5 year old and a toddler, I have this conversation with my friends a lot. Yes, I should be practicing self-care...but when on earth would I? We all KNOW as parents how important it is to take care of ourselves. When we can stay connected to our own well-being, it overflows onto our children and we're more patient, loving, joyful parents. However, knowing and doing are completely different things.

Between morning routines, drop off, work, pick-up,  soccer, dinner, bedtime, and sleep (well, we’ll call it sleep), when on earth do we find the time or energy to run...or bike...or stretch...or meditate...or really do anything for ourselves? Yeah. I can't even shower alone, I can’t imagine trying to meditate. I personally get caught in a constant cycle of I should, I will, and I didn't today. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe on Sunday. Maybe next Sunday.

The struggle is real. It's hard. But, at the end of the day you are better for it, and according to child development experts, your kids will be better for it too. New parents, learn this and practice this now, before the inevitable “busy” of parenting takes over.

To get you started, here is a list of 45 self-care ideas. It’s okay to start small! Just taking time to consciously breathe during the day is a step forward...and we ALL have time to breathe. Some are big, some are small, but all of them are doable.

  1. Take time to dream about you

  2. Get a massage

  3. Go to Yoga

  4. Meditate

  5. Declutter Something

  6. Unplug (for an hour or maybe a day)

  7. Take deep breaths at a stop light

  8. Get a manicure or pedicure

  9. Stretch

  10. Choose a healthy snack

  11. Go for a walk or run

  12. Just be still

  13. Find the sun and warm up in it

  14. Laugh

  15. Call a friend you haven’t talked to in awhile

  16. Write or journal

  17. Help someone

  18. Make a connection with someone you don’t know

  19. Plan a vacation

  20. Watch the sunset

  21. Watch the sunrise

  22. Read

  23. Cook your favorite meal

  24. Listen to your favorite song (or album)

  25. Make a list of things you are grateful for

  26. Get rid of clothes that are old or don’t fit

  27. Just breathe

  28. Paint or color

  29. Drink water

  30. Hire a sitter and do whatever you want

  31. Reprioritize

  32. Ask for help

  33. Plant flowers

  34. Go to bed early

  35. Create a quiet space in your home and go there

  36. Take a long shower or bath

  37. Shop for yourself (no kid clothes allowed)

  38. Get something waxed

  39. Listen to an energizing podcast

  40. Visit your favorite museum

  41. Take a community education class

  42. Sing

  43. Have coffee with a good friend

  44. Acknowledge and release your stress

  45. Revel in the absolute joy of being a parent

My message to you, new parents and pros... make time. You are important. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing! Do little things every day that take care of you.  Maybe just start by doing one a day, maybe you do as many as you can. It’s called practice for a reason and it doesn’t have to be perfect. Start today, and make yourself a priority now and every day after.