If you’re like many moms, part of you can’t wait until the kids are in bed so that you can finally get some precious ME time. But then you’re so exhausted that all you can do is scroll on your phone or zone out in front of Netflix until it gets so late that your eyes widen in horror at the thought of how soon your little ones are going to wake up.
Or maybe the kids go to bed and you think you’ll relax—listen to a guided meditation, take a bath, or ask your partner for a neck rub—but there’s just too much vying for your attention. Your partner wants to talk, there are dishes in the sink, a pile of laundry on the couch, and you promised to call your mom.
Before you know it, not a single moment of the day was devoted to YOU, dear Mama.
Does this sound familiar?
You’re not alone.
We're all trying to figure out how to take care of ourselves, but what the heck does self-care mean, anyway, and how do you make time for it?
When we became moms, we became oriented toward our baby, and this is a good thing. Our needs don’t seem to matter as much because this little person NEEDS us, and oh, do they let us know! But we get so used to putting our needs on the back burner that by the time our kids are more self-sufficient, focusing on ourselves can feel foreign and uncomfortable.
While it would be great to be able to carve out time in the middle of the day to relax, that’s just not practical for 99% of us.
Whether your baby is a few days old or already driving themselves, there’s a simple solution to get little sips of self-care throughout your day: mini pauses.
Mini pauses are mindful moments woven into your day. When you gift yourself these little sips of self-care throughout your day, you’re not going to feel depleted and desperate by the end of the day. You’ve been attending to your needs and taking mini moments to relax all throughout the day.
Let’s dive into what this looks like.
It’s morning. You get woken up at some ungodly hour by your precious babes. You’d love to go back to bed, but it’s clear that they are UP and you’ve got to make sure no one is trying to give themselves a haircut with a butter knife.
This right here is a precious opportunity to take your first sip of self-care. Before you get out of bed, place one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly and take three deep breaths into your hands. Maybe you even set an intention for your day like “Today, I am patient and present,” or think of three things you’re grateful for. It takes just a few seconds, but its effects are far-reaching.
Next, you get out of bed and go into the kitchen to make a cup of tea or coffee. Savor it as much as possible by taking a moment to get still. Tune out the noise in the house. Feel that warm mug in your hands, gently rubbing your fingers to notice the grooves and smoothness of the cup. Take a deep breath as you watch the steam rise. Ahh… Bring the cup to your lips and take another breath in, inhaling that sweet aroma. Finally, take that first sip, letting it coat your mouth with nourishing, life-giving joy and comfort. When you’re ready, swallow. You may not get to drink the whole thing while it’s hot, or at least not without microwaving it twelve times, but that first sip? Oh, that first sip is holy.
Now, let’s say that your kids are school-aged or they at least go to daycare (when things go back to normal!). After you drop them off, before you zoom off to work or the next errand, take a moment while you’re parked. This is another perfect opportunity for a little you time. Sit back and look out the window. Notice the color of the sky, the way the breeze moves the branches and leaves, any flowers or colors you can see. Roll down your window and take a deep breath in. Doesn’t that fresh air feel lovely? Feel the breeze on your skin. Take as much time as you like (or can) here. It only takes a few seconds of mindful noticing to shake off the stress of getting everyone ready and out the door. Now you can jet off to your next appointment with a little more ease, a clearer mind, and a more balanced emotional state.
By this point, you might be thinking of all sorts of moments in your day when you can take just a few more seconds to create an experience that supports you and your well-being.
When you’re walking through the grocery store, tune in to the sound of your footsteps landing on the shiny floor.
When you’re eating lunch, make your first bite a mindful one, fully tuning in and savoring the food you’re eating. (Pro-tip: if you’re like me, a “leftover chicken nuggets for lunch” kind of mom, this can make those basic kid foods delectable.)
When you wash your hands, imagine all your stress and tension flowing out of your body and down the drain.
When you make dinner, take in all the colors, the way the ingredients soften and melt together, the patterns your stirring spoon makes in the pot, and the smells filling the kitchen.
While you eat, go around the table and share three things you each feel grateful for (kids’ answers are THE best).
There are infinite mini pauses you can create for yourself by infusing a little mindfulness into things you’re already doing, like putting on pajamas, reading to your kids, feeding your baby, or closing up the house at night (yep, I’m that lady who says goodnight to her house while locking the doors and making sure I turned the stove off).
Being a mindful mama isn’t about having one of those “perfect” children who will play quietly while you get in an hour-long yoga practice. It's about recognizing moments you can turn into artfully mindful ones. Mini pauses often only last a few seconds or minutes, but their effects can be felt all day long.
When I weave them into my day, I’m a more present parent. I have more capacity to hold space for my child’s tantrums and protests. I’m a better partner and friend. I feel more connected to myself and my own wants and needs. I have more energy, and I’m simply happier and more appreciative.
Mindfulness can turn mundane moments into magical ones and fill your self-care tank in just a few seconds. Because you can’t pour from an empty cup, and you don’t have to -- you can fill your cup one sip at a time.
For more tips, watch the recording of our Facebook Live with Terra LaRock, founder of the Mindful Mamas Club.
If you’re loving the idea of mini pauses but aren’t sure where or how to start, simply download the Mindful Mamas app. It's a self-care and meditation app for moms at every stage, and there are plenty of teachings in the app that will help you adopt a self-care routine that is both enriching and accessible.