How would you like to have a 98-hour workweek? It almost sounds physically impossible, doesn’t it?
Chances are, though, if you’re a working mom, that’s already your schedule. The average American mother with a full time job starts her day at 6:23am and works, in one way or another, until 8:31pm.
Stress management is tough enough when you have plenty of room on your calendar for deep tissue massages and hot yoga classes, but when you’re lucky to get enough alone time for an unaccompanied bathroom visit, it can feel impossible. Sometimes it’s necessary to get a little out-of-the-box with your self care plan, and we hope these tips will help you do just that!
So much stress, so little time…
Once both occupational and domestic tasks have been tallied up, and sleep requirements are (hopefully) met, that working mom we talked about above has about one hour and seven minutes left each day to use at her own discretion. That’s not a lot of time.
Theoretically, it’s enough time to enjoy a relaxing bath, assuming you don’t have to empty 1,000 small plastic toys from the tub first and that you don’t get distracted by that less-than-pristine tile grout you’ve been meaning to scrub.
Theoretically, it’s enough time for you to pour a glass of wine or make a cup of tea and watch the latest episode of whatever Netflix series you’re currently obsessed with, assuming you can gain control of the TV remote (and stay awake for the whole show).
Realistically, it’s probably enough time to sink into your couch clutching your phone, scrolling and tapping and swiping mindlessly until you realize that it’s too late to do anything else anyway.
Unwinding via your Facebook feed for a few minutes is fine, but it’s easy to overdo it. You probably hop on to post a photo of your cute kids, look at photos of your friends’ cute kids, and maybe enjoy a few LOLs, but the next thing you know, you’re 40 pale blue text bubbles deep into a comments section battle about politics or car seat safety or pizza toppings. Or you’re taking a quiz to see what kind of potato you’d be if you were a potato. It’s not exactly zen. (Also, if you’re going to take a quiz, take our quiz, obviously, because unlike your potato alter ego, you might benefit from knowing more about term life insurance.)
4 sneaky self care tips
Bubble baths, Netflix binges, and wine, while lovely in moderation, are not the answer to all our self care woes. Check out these sneaky little tricks if you’re looking for more practical, productive ways to show yourself some love.
1. Put your phone in time out
Smart phones are pretty awesome, but they’re also kind of addictive. Studies have shown that overuse of our devices can lead to increased anxiety, poor sleep habits, and even more serious issues like depression. Imagine if every minute or two, regardless of what you were doing, someone tapped you on the shoulder, zapped you with one of those trick handshake buzzers, and proceeded to read you a news headline, hand you a piece of junk mail, or point at a photo of your kid eating a corndog and give you a silent thumbs-up…or worse, a passive-aggressive mini-lecture on the dangers of nitrites and the role small wooden sticks play in deforestation. Sounds awful, right? But that’s essentially what our phones are doing to us all day long.
Designating a device-free time each day, even if it’s just for an hour, can go a long way in reducing your stress level. Switch your phone to “do not disturb” mode, drop it in a drawer (or anywhere out of sight), and encourage anyone else in the house who uses a smart phone to do the same. If possible, choose a time when your family will be together so that a.) you won’t have to worry that your partner or children are trying to reach you; and b.) you can all experience the magic of increased eye contact and focused interaction that happens. (If your children are older, said magic may be preceded by eyerolls and mild verbal protest…don’t let that deter you).
2. Use mindfulness to get a double dip of self care
Developing a mindfulness practice might sound like a huge undertaking, but it really doesn’t have to be. If you think a morning meditation means getting up at 4am to sit lotus-style on a silk cushion with incense smoke wafting around your perfectly clear head, it almost certainly feels unattainable. If you expand your perception of meditation, though, you may find that it’s not only possible, but that it can help support other self care goals you’re struggling with.
You can meditate for two hours, sure, but you can also meditate for two minutes. When you begin to apply mindfulness to activities that are already part of your daily routine, almost anything can become a meditation. Brushing your teeth. Eating a piece of avocado toast. Folding laundry. Taking a walk. And the best part is, you not only gave your mind a chance to slow down and reset, but also got some physical exercise, refilled everyone’s t-shirt drawers, ate a healthy breakfast, and practiced good oral hygiene. How’s that for maximizing your time?!
3. Be a self care opportunist
As you may have guessed, establishing some kind of routine is usually part of any successful self care journey. But it’s also important to maintain flexibility. Every day, hour, minute, and breath is different, and what feels right one moment may not resonate so much the next. If your lunchtime jog happens to take you past a farmer’s market, and one of the vendors happens to be selling fresh baked goods, maybe your self care becomes walking back to work while eating a delicious blueberry muffin.
You could frame that as a weak moment and feel defeated, or you could acknowledge the power of mindfully consuming something that appeals to every last one of your senses. Something filled with fruit grown in the community garden you run past five days a week. Something made with care and with love by the same woman who smiled as she handed it to you. Should you cut every run short and eat muffins instead? Probably not. But part of being present in the moment and honest with yourself is keeping your options—and your heart—open.
4. Do (at least) one thing that nourishes you every day
We hope you’ll do more than one nice thing for yourself every day. But when you’re on a serious time budget, it’s best to start small so you don’t end up adding to your stress by trying to reduce it.
You’ve probably been reminded to “do one thing a day that scares you” by 10,000 inspirational Instagram posts, a teabag tag or two, and even the shopping bag your under-utilized yoga pants came in. But you’re a mom. Chances are, you’re averaging way more than one scary experience per day, so that kind of takes care of itself.
Instead, just focus on doing one thing that refills your cup, whether it’s catching a Pilates class with your favorite instructor, taking ten minutes to finally use that creepy sheet mask you bought months ago, treating yourself to a delicious table-for-one lunch at a restaurant that doesn’t have a kids’ menu, or even just turning on music that makes you feel alive and cranking up the volume as much as your soccer mom minivan sound system will allow (probably after you get out of the car line, depending on what music speaks to your soul and how willing you are to explain the lyrics to your children).
Thank you for using part of your one hour and seven minutes to read this far. We hope you’re inspired to start sneaking self care into your busy life wherever you can!
One way to boost your peace of mind is by making sure you have enough life insurance to help protect your family and the life you’ve worked so hard to give them…and we’re here to make that process super easy! Check out our free quote tool that doesn’t take up too much of your time. Because we know that for make-it-happen moms, every single minute counts.