As a busy and stressed Mom, any focus on yourself is often, and all too easily, shoved to the bottom of the list. There just don't seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything on your lengthy (let's be real, does it ever truly end?) To-Do list. In the midst of working, parenting duties, and the perpetual juggling act, the concept of self-care might feel like an unattainable luxury…so far out of your grasp.
But what if I told you that self-care isn’t just a luxury but a necessity, an integral part of maintaining your well-being? And that self-care isn’t about spending a lot of money on a massage or facial?
Join me on this journey as we explore the practical and achievable ways a stressed Mom can easily incorporate self-care into her daily routine. We’ll begin building your very own Mom Toolkit for a balanced and fulfilling life. We’ll (re)define self-care as a non-negotiable part of thriving in the demanding world of a stressed and over-worked Mom.
The Reality of a Stressed Mom's Schedule
Exploring the Demanding To-Do List
In the day-to-day reality of a working Mom, the To-Do list stands as proof of the many responsibilities of a stressed and over-worked Mom. It's not just a list; it's a living, breathing piece of lined paper or “List” on your phone that grows and morphs with each passing day. There are Xs, things crossed out, maybe some arrows or circles. Regardless, this list is a gross reminder that your time is rarely your own.
The Perpetual Nature of Responsibilities
The responsibilities you have don't stick to a 9-to-5 schedule. The emotional and physical stamina required to get through the work day and the round-the-clock nature of parenting create a continuous flow of tasks. The end of the paying job's day doesn't signify a conclusion but rather a transition into the next phase of responsibilities: navigating traffic, what's for dinner, cooking dinner...Need I go on?
Time Constraints Faced by Therapist Moms
Time becomes a valued prize with each hour carefully assigned to professional and personal tasks. The constant challenge lies in finding a delicate balance between which task is most important for that time slot? Because just like your responsibilities aren’t simply 9-5, neither are the tasks you need to complete on a daily basis. And like it or not, that means what doesn’t get done now, has to fit in somewhere else. How do you decide? Million dollar question right there.
Shifting Perspectives on Self-Care
Dispelling the Myth of Self-Care as a Luxury
Let's debunk a common misconception: self-care is often seen as a luxury, an indulgence reserved for those with an abundance of time and money. However, for a stressed Mom, time is a scarce resource, and the notion of indulgence might feel out of reach. In reality, self-care is not about extravagant spa days or extended vacations—it's about incorporating small, meaningful moments into your everyday routine.
Presenting Self-Care as a Necessity for Well-being
Self-care is not a privilege; it's a necessity. In the relentless balancing act of a career and parenting, neglecting your well-being can have consequences. By reframing self-care as a “must” for maintaining your mental and emotional health, we aim to shift the perspective from luxury to essential.
Exploring the Benefits of Prioritizing Personal Care Between Responsibilities
Prioritizing yourself doesn't mean compromising your professional or parenting duties. On the contrary, embracing self-care can enhance your effectiveness in both roles. From improved focus during the day to increased patience in parenting, the benefits of self-care extend far beyond personal satisfaction.
The Stressed Mom's Toolkit
Practical Self-Care Strategies
In the middle of your dual roles, self-care can seem elusive, yet it's an integral component of your toolkit for maintaining resilience and balance.
In this section, our focus is on the pragmatic—no grand gestures or elaborate plans. Instead, I’ll give you practical tools to effortlessly sprinkle little moments of self-care into your daily life as a busy Mom. Let's build a toolkit that empowers you to thrive in both your therapeutic work and your role as a parent.
Let's look at some practical strategies tailor-made for the working Mom:
Incorporating Brief Self-Care Moments into Daily Routines
These moments, however brief, whether during a lunch break or in the midst of parental responsibilities, can be transformative.
Mindful Breathing Breaks: Take a few minutes between meetings or a lunch break to practice mindful belly breathing. Inhale deeply through your nose to the count of 4, and exhale slowly through pursed lips to the count of 8. Be sure that when you inhale, your belly pushes out to maximize the effectiveness of this relaxation technique. This simple practice can help reset your focus and alleviate stress.
Gratitude Journaling: Keep a small notebook and jot down three things you're grateful for each day. It could be a moment with your child, a positive interaction with a colleague, or even a small personal achievement. Reflecting on the positive aspects of your day fosters a sense of well-being.
Stretching Exercises: Incorporate gentle stretching exercises into your routine. Simple stretches, like neck rolls or shoulder stretches, can be done discreetly and provide physical relief, especially during long meetings.
A Journey to Self-Care Journaling Workbook: Do you have your copy yet? Get your copy here. This journaling workbook offers you the chance to think about your self-care in ways other than it just impacting your physical self, but also how it impacts business and vice versa. Commit to doing one journal question daily or every couple of days, whatever you feel is best. *While this workbook was originally written for Therapist Moms, it can easily be adapted to any working mom regardless of whether you own your own business or not. Not all journaling prompts will translate, but the majority of them will.
Nature Connection Breaks: Take a short break to step outside and connect with nature. Whether it's a brief walk in a nearby park or just spending a few moments in your backyard, immersing yourself in nature can provide a refreshing break. Listen to the sounds around you, feel the breeze, or simply observe the natural surroundings. This simple act can offer a mental reset and boost your mood.
Mini Meditation Breaks: Integrate short meditation breaks into your day. Find a quiet space, sit comfortably, and engage in a brief meditation session. Focus on your breath, allowing yourself to let go of tension and stress. There are various meditation apps with quick sessions designed for busy schedules, making it accessible even during short breaks. These moments of mindfulness can bring a sense of calm and centering to your hectic day.
Strategies for Self-Care During The Work Day and Parenting Duties
Acknowledging the demanding nature of both professions, let's talk more actionable strategies for integrating self-care even during the work day and parenting duties. These are not disruptions but rather subtle enhancements that contribute to your well-being without compromising your professional or parental responsibilities.
Mindful Listening: Practice mindful listening during meetings. Take a moment to truly hear and absorb what your colleague is expressing. This not only benefits your colleague but also allows you to stay present and engaged, contributing to your professional fulfillment.
Parent-Child Quality Time: Turn routine activities into bonding moments with your child. Whether it's preparing a meal together, sharing stories at bedtime, or even involving them in age-appropriate decision-making, these shared experiences contribute to a sense of connection and joy.
Desk Décor for Tranquility: Personalize your office or cubicle space with items that bring you tranquility. It could be a small potted plant, a calming color scheme, or a favorite quote. Creating a soothing environment can positively impact your mood at the office.
Delegate and Communicate: In both roles, it’s important to learn to delegate tasks and communicate your needs. Whether it's enlisting help from a spouse or setting boundaries with work, open communication ensures a more manageable workload, reducing stress and allowing for self-care.
What else would you add to your toolkit? Remember, the emphasis is on practical, easily manageable strategies that fit into your daily routine without too much disruption. By incorporating these small yet impactful practices, you can enhance your well-being without compromising your professional or parental responsibilities.
Bringing It All Together: Nurturing the Awesome Mom Within
In an effort to make this topic less daunting for busy Moms, I've called out the challenges and explored practical strategies for you to make self-care less of one more thing to add to your list, but rather something you want to do.
As we navigate the realities of professional and parenting duties, one thing becomes abundantly clear: self-care is not an extravagance but a necessity. It's the foundation that upholds your physical and emotional well-being, resilience, and overall life satisfaction.
I’ve outlined practical self-care strategies, from mindful breathing breaks to moments of connecting with nature, recognizing the constraints of time and the need for simplicity in your approach. Effective self-care doesn’t need to be grandiose, rather something that easily fits into your daily life.
Your self-care toolkit extends beyond your personal practices. It includes the acknowledgment and acceptance that self-care is non-negotiable for building resilience. And resilience is going to be what gets you through those rough days when you’d rather stay in bed.
So, Mama, as you navigate the tricky intersection of your profession and motherhood, remember this: self-care is not selfish; it's self-preserving. In this ongoing journey, let the practical strategies, the shared experiences of the working Mom community, and the profound importance of self-care guide you toward a path of ongoing well-being and success in every aspect of the personal and professional life you’ve painstakingly built.
Interested in starting your own therapy? That's great!