4 Tips For Self-Care When You Have No Extra Time

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Image via Chaunie Brusie

For a long time, I thought motherhood meant being miserable. No, truly.

Partly because I started having kids before I think I was truly “grown up” (I was pregnant my senior year of college) and partly because I am part of a millennial generation raising kids in a completely different way, many of us merging our work and personal lives in ways that our parents just never could have dreamed of, but either way you look at it, I didn’t really know what to expect from motherhood.

{ MORE: How To Rock Motherhood With Confidence This Year }

So in a way, I just kind of thought it should be a constant struggle. I thought that having kids young, and having so many kids (we have four kids eight and under), meant that my life was a simple equation of no time and lots of misery.

But the older I’ve gotten, the more I realized how terribly, horribly wrong I was. Motherhood should not mean misery and – more importantly – I am able to be a better mother when I am not miserable. Now, at the ripe old age of 30, with four kids, I am finally taking steps towards self-care. The only problem? I am short on the time I would ideally like for self-care (um, spa trip anyone?). So I turned to the experts to learn how to practice more self-care on limited time.

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Combine exercise into self-care

The single biggest change I’ve made in my life over the past year is exercising regularly and more importantly, changing how I view exercise. I no longer treat exercise like a chore or something I do in order to try to make myself into a certain idealized body shape. It’s something I do now for me that is just mine. Instead of punishing my body, I am treating it with exercise. I use my time at the gym to walk on the treadmill and watch any show I want, then lift weights and forget about absolutely everything everyone else in my life needs. It is completely my time and as a bonus, I am combining working out and self-care at the same time. Win-win.

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Image via Chaunie Brusie

Turning cleaning into self-care

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Yup, it’s official, we’ve become our mothers. But cleaning or organizing something, anything in my house truly does make a difference in my mental and thus, physical energy too. My favorite go-to task is cleaning out the junk drawer. So refreshing.

“[I] take 10 minutes to clean my apartment, which rejuvenates me AND clears up my physical space,” explains Kate Bigam. She also suggests walking around the block a few times, something you can do with or without kids on deck, and indulging in a favorite drink, caffeine optional. (Although for me, I’m not sure it really is optional. Whoops.)

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Image via Unsplash

Send a text

This might sound kind of crazy, but after recently going through a miscarriage, I have realized how much of a difference a simple text or a “thinking of you” email or card can make. Getting messages like that from people I don’t even talk to that often touched me so much that I am realizing how silly it is to hold back from connecting with people out of my own insecurities. Friendships when you are younger are more fragile things, but as you get older, you start realizing that it doesn’t have to be complicated. A simple text can go a long way and cultivating those connections is an important part of self-care. Also? It literally takes seconds.

{ MORE: All the Things that Terrify Me as a Mother }

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Don’t make self-care about someone else

Answer me honestly if you’ve ever done this: told yourself (or your partner) that taking time for yourself is importantly only because it makes you a better wife or a better mother or a better employee or a better whatever. Well, the hard truth is, is that’s missing the whole point.

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Tara Pringle Jefferson, the self-care expert behind The Renaissance Suite and the Bloom Beautifully self-care subscription box rocked my world when she pretty much debunked that whole oxygen mask theory thing. “We have to get to the point where our self-care time … is for us. Solely for our benefit,” she wrote on her site. “We are women before we are anything else. Kids will grow up and move out. Husbands can pass away. The job will not always be there. But who you are as a woman — what you like to do for fun, how you handle stress, how you love (and love yourself) — is what will always be a constant.”

So honestly? Don’t waste your valuable time pretending that self-care is anything but what it is and what it should be: time for your self. And no one else.

How do you practice self-care? No, really, I want to know!

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4 Tips For Self-Care When You Have No Extra Time

Chaunie Brusie is a coffee mug addict, a labor and delivery nurse turned freelance writer, and a young(ish) mom of four. She is the author of "Tiny Blue Lines: Preparing For Your Baby, Moving Forward In Faith, & Reclaiming Your Life In An Unplanned Pregnancy" and "The Moments That Made You A Mother". She also runs Passion Meets Practicality, a community of tips + inspiration for work-at-home mothers. ... More

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