My life as a mom has (so far!) included 5 kids, 3 adoptions, 2 son/daughter in-laws, and 5 grandkids — plus 11 years homeschooling. So I’ve learned a thing or two along the way. Here’s a big one: that saying about “if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” is entirely true. Go ahead, ask me how I know.
I like to think of myself as a compassionate person; thoughtful, kind, and witty. Sometimes that’s true but it all goes out the window remarkably fast when I’m running short on any of the self-care things that keep me sane.
7 ways I incorporate self care into my days:
This list below includes what I deem as necessities. I certainly don’t do every one of these every day, but I try because I see what a difference it makes in me — and that equates to a happier overall household.
I credit this as my BIGGEST key to staying sane. Exercise is proven to reduce stress and it leaves me in a decidedly better mood. Getting outside for a run is great, but I often workout at home, too, and I like to listen to music in my headphones so I don’t have to listen to kids bickering or (thanks to the Octonauts) practicing their Australian accents.
Date nights for actual conversation with my husband.
It’s one of the most mystifying occurrences in the world of parenting: mom and dad talking to EACH OTHER somehow magnetically pulls all children right into the center of said conversation, with a problem that must be solved immediately (like the urgent need for a snack) or a sudden and overwhelming impulse to narrate every single thing they did at camp two weeks ago. Or is that just in our house?
Ken and I manage to get the most essential bits communicated to each other but for anything more, we have to get out of the house. It’s essential for remembering why we like each other and that we are indeed more than just the other parental unit for the children we’re raising. We try to do this weekly; that doesn’t always work out, but we keep it high on the agenda.
I’ve always needed vast quantities of sleep, and if I run short for more than about a day, it’s not going to be pretty. No amount of caffeine will fix me. I go to bed early, and I try to adhere to a calming routine so that I don’t lay awake once my head hits the pillow. This is one I absolutely cannot neglect or my body will force the issue.
I need sunshine and fresh air. I perk up by simply stepping outside for a few minutes with the dogs to admire my flowers, watch birds, or touch a tree. I don’t always love the heat of summer but I do love the long hours of daylight. If I do happen to be short on sleep, sunshine is the only thing that helps.
Fulfilling work, outside the home.
My class for active senior adults is a highlight of my week. I’ll never make big bucks doing this, but I love dancing around with these folks and acting like a fool to make them laugh, all while knowing these classes help improve their quality of life.
In addition to my altruistic reasons, I have also found that working outside the home part-time has helped remember that I am a human beyond my role as mother and homeschooler.
Carving out chunks of time to recharge.
When I can (because my husband is a rock star), I find big benefits to taking myself to the beach for an hour or two, or holing up with a big book and a bigger cup of tea.
Book-ending the day with quiet.
Although I may not always get those chunks of time, even a short bit of quiet at the beginning and end of my day help my sanity. My perfect morning includes a cup of tea on the porch while listening to birds, and my evenings often include reading in my bed before I turn out the lights.
Remember, I’m an introvert so much of my list reflects that. Your self-care necessities will vary based on your personality, your family, your stage of life. I encourage you to study yourself to find out what keeps you sane — and kind.
Allow me to offer a word of encouragement, too, if you’re in a stage of life where most of this seems impossible: you’ll get there. Figure out a few things that help you stay sane and then look at things in your life where you could make changes so you can begin incorporate those a little at a time. When you begin to see the benefits, you’ll be more inspired to keep making self-care a priority.
Read more from other homeschool moms about how they make themselves a priority to keep home and family on track: