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Hi friend! You’re in the right place. You’re here to find ways to help you be a happier mom by engaging in some fundamental self-care ideas.
I’ve SO got you covered!
You may have already read the first part of this article called “Self-Care for Moms – Is it Selfish? Or Necessary?” and if you haven’t read it yet and aren’t quite convinced that self-care as a mom is important, I’d encourage you to go read it and then come back to this post. It will help a ton. 🙂
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OK, on to truly fundamental self-care ideas that will make you a happier mom!
Just to give you a heads up, I didn’t write this article to be just another list of things to do.
I won’t be talking about bubble baths or nights out with the girls – although those are nice things to do.
I wrote this article to help you dial in on some truly fundamental self-care practices that wouldn’t typically be termed as self-care. But, the things I’m going to share with you are THE things that I’ve done to really help me find happiness as a mom.
These are core and foundational self-care mom-skills, my friend.
So pull up a comfy chair and turn your thoughts to the truly important things in life. This is the kind of stuff you’re going to find here.
Most of the Time Our Self-Care Needs to Happen in the Middle of it All
Life as a mom can be so busy that if we wait until we have ‘time’ for self-care, we’ll rarely find it. So that means we need to engage in self-care in the middle of our busy lives.
I’m here to help you see how to do just that.
Here are two examples of what I mean by choosing self-care in the middle of things:
- While you’re up in the night – again – nursing your baby or up with a sick child, you can purposely require your mind to focus on caring for yourself as well. You can do this by simply focusing on your breath – make it smooth, deep, thoughtful, and seeking to breathe in peace.
When our sleep is interrupted again, it’s so normal to feel things such as exasperation, overwhelm, or frustration. So this is seriously one of the best tips I can give you. In these moments, cause yourself to search for peace – for selflessness – for love beyond your usual capacity -for that peace that surpasses all understanding.
This is crucial to your well-being. And the cool thing is, it really works. Yes, it takes work and real dedication to develop these kinds of self-care muscles, but honestly, I think this is one of the greatest blessings that come from motherhood -> Learning to be calm and peaceful amidst the storm. It provides you with self-care rather than giving in to the irritation of the demands.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:7
- Another example of engaging in self-care in the middle of it all is choosing to find joy in the almost daily taxi service that we provide for our kids.
Here’s one way to do it – Cheerfully listen in to the kid’s chatter. Purposely give them a warm smile, a hug, and an ‘I love you’ when they get out of the car.
When we purposely choose a joyful attitude in our taxi service, we find that we don’t feel as run-down or overwhelmed. It can actually become a happy part of our day.
Each of these examples requires mindfulness. A sense of purpose. It’s really a commitment to do what we can to not let ourselves get drug down by life, but instead to take advantage of the opportunities around us to grow ourselves into a better person, thus enabling us to more capably fulfill our role as mothers.
You see, often the greatest need for self-care as a mom is pretty much all throughout the day (and night). When we realize this and begin seeking to capitalize on each of these opportunities we can really shift the tide from overwhelm and just existing on an empty fuel tank to keeping ourselves buoyant and in the ‘doing well’ zone.
This takes practice, and honestly some faith, but I tell you, this is where the rubber meets the road.
>> THIS IS WHERE REAL SELF-CARE HAPPENS. <<
And now, my friend, I’m going to dive into some really core and fundamental things that will truly do wonders for you as you strive to care for yourself while you are giving your all to your family.
9 FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES FOR SELF-CARE
These simple things really bring about great things! Don’t underestimate the power in their capacity to give you great self-care. Because without them, life can get really rough.
Personal Prayer – Morning and Night – And any Number of Times During the Day
Your reliance on God is absolutely critical to your success as a mother. Ask him to be a part of your life. Ask him to please be with you always. Invite him in.
Share with him the joys of your heart as well as the pains of your heart. He wants to hear it all. You NEED to tell it all to him. It’s good for you to do so. Be honest but respectful and you will come away from your prayers feeling loved, supported, encouraged, and more able.
It’s also so beautiful to have your mind turn to him for help in those little moments of the day – like when little Johnny draws on the wall with a permanent marker. What’s one of the first things you can do? (Besides take the marker away…) Yup, pray. He’ll then be able to help you handle the situation in the best way possible.
That would be much better than exploding at your child which would not be caring for yourself or for your child.
See? Prayer is absolutely a fundamental self-care practice.
There are few things more powerful than the faithful prayers of a righteous mother. -Boyd K. Packer
Daily Feasting on the Word of God
Read his word. Bask in his light. Every day. (You wouldn’t go without breathing for a day, would you?)
For as much or as little time you have. But whatever amount of time you have, be sure to drink deeply.
There is such power and solace in his word.
Search for answers to the questions you have. As you search you will find great mentoring for your mothering in the scriptures.
Feast upon the words of Christ: for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do. – 2 Nephi 32:3
Get the Best Sleep You Can
I can hear you laughing at this one. 🙂
I know – sleep can feel soooo elusive as a mom. I always used to say that if moms didn’t have to sleep, eat, or go to the bathroom, we could get so much done! But unfortunately, just because we’re a mom, the mortal necessity of sleep doesn’t go away.
So, we have to find ways to make it work.
One of the best ways is to resist the urge to stay up late to get the kitchen clean or to finish that project, or do this or that… yes, once in a while won’t kill you, but if we’re not careful this can become our go-to for survival. But I know from experience that our bodies can only take so much neglect.
Please be mindful of this. Don’t rob from your future health just to push yourself beyond reasonable limits now.
Do your best to take care of yourself in regards to your sleep. Let yourself nap when you can. And at least, let yourself capture renewal and peace in any spare moment.
Here is a great TED talk on the importance of sleep: Sleep Is Your Superpower
In your busyness as a mom, be careful to not give in too much to the expediency of fast food, processed food, or junk food.
Good vehicles require quality food.
You wouldn’t fill your car’s gas tank with anything but the right kind of fuel. And for better performance, you’ll give your car higher quality fuel.
Be as kind to your body as you are to your car.
Try to have fresh fruits and vegetables in the house and get rid of much of the stuff that really doesn’t qualify as ‘real food.’
Find simple, nutritious meals to make from scratch that you and your family will like. No need to be a fancy cook here. Healthy and tasty is better than fancy and fluffy.
Everytime you eat is an opportunity to nourish your body. – unknown
Again, don’t laugh too loud at this one. 🙂
I used to exercise a lot before I became a mom and it was one of my most favorite things to do. But after my first child was born, I felt that it was just too hard to find time to exercise, and besides, I was just too plain tired.
Well, this didn’t pay well for me in the long run. “Not having time” to exercise added up to years of not exercising, which took its toll on my body.
We can do our best to make exercise a priority – even if it means very simple things like:
- Stretching up tall on your toes and back down again while doing the dishes (working our calves.)
- Going up and down the stairs one extra time now and then.
- Stretching your whole body before you go to bed. And even when you wake up.
- Getting a double stroller and taking the kids out for a walk with you.
- Running around the park with your kids.
- Exercising can be something you do when you trade play dates with other moms, etc.
Just do your best to keep this as a priority for yourself, at least at some level. You will have seasons in your life when you can do more or less, but be mindful to not let it slip off your plate totally.
Exercising as best as you can will help give you a clearer head, a brighter outlook, and more energy – and who wouldn’t love that as a mom!
Keep going in your efforts to exercise and strengthen your body. It will pay off today and in the years to come!
…your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you… – 1 Cor. 6:19
You may be thinking, “But I give service ALL day long to my kids!” You’re right, you do. And I sincerely hope you look at it that way.
If we view what we do as a mom as service rather than just fulfilling obligations, it can change our outlook. It can make all we do feel more holy rather than just demands we have to meet.
Yup, this is a concept to let sink in for a while…
For truly, when we are in the service of others, we are in the service of God. (Mosiah 2:17)
And also truly, there is no other work more holy than the work of motherhood.
And yet, I am also talking about service to others outside of our family.
Sometimes getting out of our daily routine and thinking of someone else can really help to reset our minds and hearts.
Simple things such as:
- Calling another mom to see how she’s doing and to encourage her in her mothering.
- Make cookies with the kids and have them go with you to give them to your neighbor.
- Helping an elderly person who needs assistance at the grocery store.
One caution – to not let this idea of service overwhelm you. Meaning “I have to do this” or “I ought to do that” and then feeling bad if you’re not able to do all that you’d like. Keep it simple.
Just do your best to find joy in your service, whomever it’s to.
As we lose ourselves in the service of others we discover our own lives and our own happiness. -Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Gratitude – a Powerful Virtue
Ah, the power of gratitude. It’s really unfathomable to consider what power gratitude has.
I don’t know how it works exactly, I just know that it does.
Seriously! Gratitude is SO powerful!
Gratitude needs to be one of the first tools you go to in your motherhood-skills tool belt.
Here’s a powerfully simple habit to get into: Purposely take time each day, and even several times each day if you can, to ponder on things you’re grateful for.
Try this experiment:
- When you get in bed at night and you find yourself exhausted or that your mind just won’t stop spinning, purposefully start listing off things you’re grateful for. And don’t stop until you find your state of being has changed.
I do this quite often. I’ll lay there in bed and start saying or thinking things like, “I’m grateful for my bed – I’m grateful for my comfy sheets and comforter – I’m grateful for my shoes – I’m grateful for the sunshine – I’m grateful for the clean air – ….. and I just keep going and going, expressing simple gratitude for anything that comes to mind. Sometimes I feel like I’m grasping at any old thing to say, but I keep going.
Then, it begins to happen… at some point, I can feel that my ‘state of being’ begins to shift. I begin to get more ‘into’ this gratitude thing. So I keep going. My expressions of gratitude become more meaningful. Sometimes I may get a bit emotional. I keep going.
And then it happens. I am in a fresh new state of being. No longer am I feeling exhausted. No longer is my mind spinning on who knows what. It’s all stopped and I am feeling good. I’m feeling peaceful. Relaxed. Cared for. Ready for a good night’s sleep.
- This is powerful self-care, my friend.
I’ve heard it said that gratitude is the mother of all virtues. Maybe so. Because it sure is powerful.
When we purposely work at focusing on what we’re grateful for, in time you’ll find that negative feelings like overwhelm, frustration, discouragement, and even anger will begin to fade away.
Yes, gratitude has the power to make those ugly negative emotions go away. That’s powerful!
And I would call that tremendous self-care when we can have a serious hand in helping ourselves feel grateful -and therefore happy, peaceful, joyful- instead of feeling those yucky feelings, wouldn’t you?!
Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for. – Zig Ziglar
Choose What Kind of Mom You Want to Be
Seriously think about these questions and determine your answers:
- What kind of a mom do I want to be?
- Do you want to be a happy mom?
- Do you want to be a kind mom?
- …an energetic and fun mom?
- When my kids are all grown and gone, how do I want to feel about myself and my efforts?
- How do you want your kids to remember you?
Yes, the answers to those questions can feel so foreign to who we are right now. Almost like there’s no way we could be like that.
But consider this analogy for a moment: Have you ever gone on a vacation? How did you start out on your journey?
The first thing you probably did was you to decide you wanted to go somewhere, and you picked a place.
You likely had happy thoughts of what it would be like to be there. Even joyful thoughts of what you were going to experience there.
So you made that a goal and worked toward getting there.
But were you there yet? No. Did that stop you from having the joyful thoughts of what it would be like once you got there?
And even though you weren’t there yet did you get discouraged and frustrated and give up? Or beat yourself up for not being there yet?
No, you knew it was coming. You kept your sights focused on it. You kept dreaming and imagining what it will be like to be there. You planned and prepared for it. And even embarked on the journey to get there.
You see, that’s how it can and needs to be with us and our goals as mothers.
- Choose what you want to be like as a mom. Let the joyful thoughts of what that will be like sink in.
- Hold to those thoughts even when you ‘aren’t there yet.’
- When we hold those thoughts, like “I want to be a kind mom,” they will help us in the moments when we aren’t feeling or behaving so kindly. We’ll suddenly think to ourselves, “Oooh, I want to be a kind mom” and that can help us work at getting there, and will help us improve our responses in the moment.
And be careful… when you want to be a kind mom, and yet have moments when you’re not so kind, please don’t give in to the all-too-natural response to beat yourself up about it. (That would be kind of like being 10 miles into your journey to your vacation destination, and beating yourself up because you’re not there yet.)
‘Live and learn’ is a real thing. That is really an important part of life.
It’s ok. Try again.
But can you see how helpful it will be to have already determined what kind of a mom you want to be so that when you face life’s daily challenges, those ideals are there to help you along? Without those predetermined goals in mind, we would just deal with life as it comes and we’d get whatever we happened to get from it.
Be believing, be happy, don’t get discouraged. Things will work out. -Gordon B. Hinckley
Watch Your Thoughts
Oh boy, what an unruly servant our minds can be… If we let them rule our lives we will find ourselves in all sorts of messes. This is why we need to practice being in charge of our thoughts instead of our thoughts being in charge of us.
What I mean is, have you noticed how easy it is to feel frustrated about a situation and keep a hold of the negative things we thought?
- A child does something inappropriate for the umpteenth time and you decide that he will never learn and that this is just the way he is.
- Or, when your husband doesn’t help with the kids on an evening when you’re particularly tired, and you feel resentment and harbor ill thoughts toward him.
- Or when you lose your temper, again, you beat yourself up and think ill of yourself.
My friend, we must watch for thoughts that have anything to do with things like resentment, anger, judgment, gossip, self-loathing, belittling self or others, etc. Life can sure be hard and these thoughts and feeling can come up easily. So much so that we can believe they are true and think that experiencing them is the only way to deal with things.
But I’m here to tell you, they are not. They are not true and they are not the only way to do things.
If you think about it deeply, where and from whom would these thoughts come from? Where/who is the originator of such thoughts?
You guessed it, the devil himself.
You see, any thoughts/feelings that comes from God will have to do with peace, hope, forgiveness, courage, consideration, acceptance, joy, etc. They will help and encourage us to improve and change.
Our Heavenly Father would never tell you you’re not good enough. He would never give up hope on a child. He would never encourage you to resent someone for their behavior.
This is all serious stuff I’m talking about here.
And I’d be the first to tell you that all those negative thoughts can run our lives. They can course through our veins and make us feel like this is the only way to see things. The only way to handle things. But it’s simply not true.
You, through the grace of our Savior Jesus Christ, have the power to recognize these negative thoughts and feelings for what they are. To be able to switch them out for better ones.
Oh, it’s certainly not easy. Not easy at all. It actually is one of the most difficult things we deal with in life, is learning to control our thoughts – to reject everything that is not of God, and to accept everything that is.
Nope, not an easy task. It takes daily practice. Mess up, try again. And again.
But I’m here to tell you that this pays off!!! You can begin to get a little hold of things here and there and you’ll begin to see improvements in yourself and how you see and deal with things.
One day I’m going to write the story about how I overcame having a bad temper. Yup, I didn’t know I had a temper until I had kids. But boy, did it ever exist. Loudly. Daily.
It was years before I realized that I needed to change. But again, through the grace of our Savior and a lot of work on my part, anger is no longer a part of who I am.
Seriously, I’m a different person.
And my kids and husband are grateful, and SO AM I!
I love having greater power over my mind and heart. THIS IS SELF-CARE, don’t you think?
So, how to begin?
- As with pretty much anything, the first step is to recognize the difference between the negative thoughts and the good ones.
- To decide what we want – do we want to be ruled by the negative ones? Or do we want to purposely choose and be blessed by the positive ones?
- Then to begin recognizing what we’re thinking/feeling in any given moment.
- Pray and enlist the Lord’s help in this battle. For it truly is a battle. He will help you.
- Decide that you and your family are worth it. Our minds are powerful.
The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts. – unknown
Help Yourself Remember These 9 Fundamental Self-Care Ideas with this 1 Page Shortened Version.
Keep it where you can see it to remind you how important you are!
Applying These Fundamental Self-Care Practices
My dear mom friend, I hope this list has given you great encouragement to see how fundamental true self-care really is.
Each of these things I’ve mentioned is really quite basic. But I tell you, these things are where we really can reap the blessings of living and thriving with a full tank.
No more just surviving each day.
I’m not talking about perfection – at all. I’m not talking about easily having a totally full cup every day.
I’m talking about living life abundantly – living and loving life with at least a 1/2 of a tank each day. And oftentimes more.
So dial in and implement these ideas. View them through the lens of self-care and commit to practicing them as best as you can. Giving yourself much grace and love along the way. You will be amazed at the improvements you’ll see in your life.
Head on over to Part 3 of this article “Best Self-Care Products Moms Will Love.”
I’ll see you there!
Read the rest of the articles in this series of “How to Be a Happy Mom”:
No link yet? Coming soon!
- How to Be a Happy Mom: An Introduction
- My Story: How I Got Good at Being a Mom
- It’s All About Light and Focus
- #1 Tip for Better Parenting
- Self-Care for Moms – Is it Selfish? Or Necessary?
- Fundamental Self-Care Ideas That Will Make You a Happier Mom
- Best-Self Care Products Moms Will Love
- Tips & Helps to Avoid Mommy Burnout
- How to Do it All as a Mom
- How to Get More Things Done as a Mom
- How to be Happy on Mother’s Day
- How to Find Joy in Life
Pin this to your favorite Pinterest board to encourage you in your self-care!