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40 Self-Care Tips for Busy Parents

Simple relaxation techniques that only take a minute

Nicole Schwarz

Published on: September 05, 2017

Flickr user Donnie Ray

There’s no getting around it, these years are tough. Personal space is limited and your child may literally rely on your help for almost everything. The suggestion to take time for “self-care” may actually make you laugh out loud. (Or cry, depending on the day.)

Maybe you’ve tried a few things, but you can’t be consistent. Or, maybe no matter how quiet you are in the morning, your child is immediately by your side, eliminating any hope of a moment of peace before the chaos of the day.

Rather than thinking about self-care as one Big Event, let’s think of self-care as small moments throughout the day. (Of course, if you can get away to a yoga class or take a night out with your friends, that’s awesome! Do it!)

Here are some things you can do — even with small children in the same room, a baby on your hip, 20 unanswered emails, or a messy kitchen.

  1. Take 3 good cleansing deep breaths
  2. Close your eyes and visualize a calming scene
  3. Study the details on your child’s face, a photograph or a tree outside your window
  4. Massage the arches of your feet, the palms of your hand or your neck
  5. Stretch your arms up, bending side-to-side, or standing tall
  6. Roll your shoulders up and back
  7. Sip hot tea or coffee… and really appreciate the flavor
  8. Eat something slowly, savoring every bite
  9. Pop in some earbuds and rock out to your favorite song or podcast
  10. Color or doodle
  11. Tense and flex the muscles in your body, one at a time
  12. Smell something beautiful, soothing or that brings good memories
  13. Tell a story about a time when you felt relaxed or happy
  14. Wrap your arms around and give yourself a big hug
  15. Write down three things you love about yourself, your child, your family, etc.
  16. Rewrite your to-do list, adding at least one thing you actually want to do
  17. Smile. Hold it for at least 10 seconds.
  18. Sing something in an opera voice, beatbox or “whale voice” (like in "Finding Dory")
  19. Pick a sunny spot and stay in its warmth for a few minutes
  20. Apply sunscreen
  21. Listen to music (soothing or upbeat)
  22. Have a dance party together
  23. Sing — silly made up songs or real songs
  24. Leave coloring placemats, colored pencils and pens on the table to encourage a random coloring break
  25. Stand on grass with bare feet
  26. Eat chocolate (or ice cream sandwiches) while hiding in the bathroom
  27. Rub a nice smelling lotion on your hands
  28. Lie on your back and put your legs straight up the wall
  29. Wash your face
  30. Apply fast-drying nail polish
  31. Deep breathing while imagining yourself calm and in a nature scene
  32. Pray
  33. Use the Headspace App
  34. Turn on a video for the kids
  35. Do yoga together
  36. Blow bubbles
  37. Ask your kids to apply lotion to your hands or brush your hair
  38. Light a candle
  39. Use one or two-word mantras as your computer password: smile, peace, honor, serenity
  40. Or, check out this list of one, three, or five-minute ideas

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