Self-Care for Moms Made Easy

If you’re a mom or mom-to-be, I’d bet that “self-care” can be…a bit of a touchy subject. You’ve certainly heard enough about it, sometimes being told that self-care is the answer to all your challenges, or that having some alone time will do the trick.

Many moms receive the message that self-care is about pampering—spa-like bubble baths or pedicures. No wonder it’s a bit frustrating to hear that term, self-care, because it just doesn’t seem like such simple things could make much of a difference to your sense of overwhelm or exhaustion.

So let’s start with a more realistic definition. Self-care simply refers to all the things you do to help yourself feel well, including meeting your very basic needs. This can range from things like brushing your teeth, to booking a massage, to actually showing up for that pap test. Sure, your self-care routine might include a manicure, but it might also include regular counseling sessions. Self-care isn’t extra or frivolous.

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Self-care refers to all the things you do to meet your needs in the different areas of your life. We’re talking emotional, physical, social, intellectual and spiritual needs. If we want to feel joy and ease, we must address our own needs so that we have the capacity to welcome those positive experiences. When we think of self-care this way, we can understand that this isn’t something you only do when your kids are asleep or with the sitter.

Self-care also doesn’t have to be so involved, difficult, and consuming. You don’t have to commit to daily workouts, frequent meditations or significantly shift your life in order for your efforts to count. It can be easy.

Self-care is essential, but our approach has to be more realistic so that it’s not just another source of stress or an un-checked item on the to-do list. It’s important to shift the conversation so that what’s supposed to support your mental well-being doesn’t become another way you feel like a failure.

So what stops moms from practicing it?

Your schedule is fully booked! Timing is often the biggest obstacle that stands in the way of moms weaving self-care into their lives. You can’t find the time when it feels like a huge extra task on the to-do list. For moms struggling to find their groove in early motherhood, taking care of yourself feels like another thing you have to do. When you neglect it, it feels like another thing you’re NOT doing—and that can bring you down. So many of us see the day slip by without taking a moment for ourselves. And the biggest mistake is thinking that self-care has to happen outside of your time with your kids. Because for many, that time is fleeting.

Guilt. Mom guilt makes no exceptions for self-care. Taking care of your needs is not selfish. Taking time for yourself is not luxurious. Self-care is not frivolous. When you take care of yourself, you’re better able to become the mom you want to be. When you look after your needs, your partner benefits, your kids benefit. Everyone wins! You matter so much. Your well-being affects others. You deserve your own attention, love and energy.

How should we define realistic self-care?

Making self-care easy for moms is about simplifying what the concept means to begin with. Believe that self-care is realistic otherwise it’s never going to happen.

What is self-care, really?

Look for ways to incorporate self-care during the times that you are with your kids. This might sound hard, but trust me, it’s an important mindset shift. And sure, exercising with a toddler climbing at your feet is less than ideal, but it’s better than not exercising at all.

In my own journey as a mom, making this mental shift was a game changer. I started looking for ways to infuse my day with things that were for me, like my music, my candles or oils, my adult colouring book, or the route that I like to walk. These were subtle shifts but started to make me feel like my preferences and needs matter too. I am hoping you can start doing the same.

Here are three areas to being exploring easy and attainable self-care:

Your Body. When thinking about self-care for your body, think about all of your physical needs. Nutrition, hydration, rest, comfort. You need some kind of movement (ideally every day, if you can). When considering how to care for your body, ask yourself if there are things you do for your kids that you neglect to do for yourself. Moms often go to great lengths to prepare healthy meals for their kids, for example, but their own meals are an afterthought. I’ve been there too, snacking on the kids’ leftovers. But why? What if you could also consider your own nutritional needs? What impact would that have on you? You might even ask yourself in this moment: what are some easy ways that I could take better care of my physical self? Jot down a few ideas, and remember, keep it simple!

Your Mind. Taking care of your mind means making sure that your emotional and intellectual needs are considered. You’re allowed to keep investing in your interests and hobbies. You have the need to learn and grow! Being a mom shouldn’t put a stop to that. So what interests have you put aside? Anything you’ve been curious about? Any new hobbies you’d like to explore? I know that life looks different now, and you likely don’t have the time to do hobbies like you did before. Can you find easier ways to fit this in? For example, instead of setting up an elaborate oil painting area, what if you tried a travel-size watercolour setup that is easy to pick up and put down? Even watching videos or tutorials about your hobbies can spark that interest again.

On the emotional side, it can be helpful to check in with yourself daily by simply asking: “How am I doing? Where am I at?” Notice what comes up when you ask that question. Listening to yourself is self-care. Remember that. And if you discover some emotions that are harder to sit with on your own, it might be a good time to reach out to a friend or a professional to support you.

Your Environment. Have you ever felt stressed out and then gone on a cleaning rampage and felt so much better afterwards? Or maybe you redecorated your living room mantle, hung a couple pictures or bought a new house plant and suddenly your mood improved? Well, that’s no coincidence! Your surroundings influence your mood. Think about the area in your home where you spend most of your time. Is there anything about that space that you need to change to help your mood? Creating a calm space in your home could be an act of self-care because it helps you feel more at ease. What you’re aiming to do here is notice how your space affects you and then doing something small to bring comfort.

Remember that self-care is personal: what works for your friend might not work for you. Allow yourself to explore, try different things, and drop the things that don’t seem to help. You are worthy and deserving of your time and energy too; becoming a parent doesn’t mean that you fall off the priority list. Little by little, with time and intention, you’ll find your place back on that list and continue to move toward well-being.

Kate Borsato
Kate Borsato
Kate Borsato is a mental health counsellor on Vancouver Island. With her online counselling practice, she supports women during their transitions into motherhood and postpartum stages. Learn more at