5 Holiday Self Care Tips for MomsNov 25, 2023
One thing I’ve discovered working so closely with so many moms in my work is that we take pretty much no convincing to do something that’s good for our kids and families. We research all the benefits of baby activity tables, purchase adorable & expensive holiday outfits for our kids, bend over backwards to create holiday meals that give our families the warm fuzzies around the table, and stay up late wrapping the gifts we meticulously picked out for our children and organizing them under the tree *just so*.
But when it comes to doing something for ourselves? Think again. For many of us, we were subtly socialized growing up to put others’ needs before our own, and nowhere does this make itself more starkly apparent than in motherhood. When I meet a new mom friend at the playground and want to invite her to my motherhood friendship group, I’ve learned that I have to lead with what’s in it for her kids (playdates and snacks) instead of what’s in it for her (judgement-free support, casual but authentic friendships with other moms in the same life stage)…otherwise, I lose her completely.
This has to stop, mamas! The things we do for ourselves don’t need to wait until we’ve checked every other item off our to do lists. We don’t deserve to be on the bottom rung of the ladder day in and day out. Are there sacrifices required in motherhood? Of course! But that doesn’t mean that our eternal role is to always put ourselves last.
At the same time, “self care” is often tossed out to moms in ways that are far from helpful. Whether it’s trying to get us to buy some sort of spa product or suggesting activities that are in no way practical for real-life with small children, we’re often left thinking that self-care is just something we don’t have time or energy for.
There’s a better way.
Since we’re entering into the holiday season, when it’s even more common for moms to overwork ourselves and burnout, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite and most-recommended practical self-care tips for this season. Use this list to reframe how you approach the upcoming season and start making your needs important too - and no, it doesn’t involve you forcing in a bubble bath while your kids scream and cry at the door and you frantically try to “destress” before giving up and wishing you hadn’t wasted that 20 minutes.
Top Holiday Self Care Tips for Moms
- Manage your expectations - of others AND yourself
It’s totally unreasonable to expect for all holiday magic to be fulfilled by one person - you are not the only conduit for holiday enjoyment for your family. Don’t take it all on your shoulders! If you love the look of holiday crafts on Pinterest but don’t get satisfaction from doing them with your kids, let the crafts at the library storytime be enough. Let a family member or friend take them out to ride the Santa train at the mall while you take some time for yourself. Enlist your partners help in choosing and wrapping presents. You don’t have to do it all, and your family’s holiday memories might even be richer if they include a rested mom and experiences with other people. It’s good for them to learn that they don’t need to get everything from you.
In the same vein, if you’re someone who adores certain holiday activities and your family doesn’t, don’t feel like you have to either force them or miss out. Practice letting other people into your circle who enjoy the same things you do, or learn to enjoy doing some things alone. There are lots of ways to get your holiday magic fix in a way that makes everyone happy.
- Be intentional about your “memory-making”
I hate to break it to you, but most of the stuff you bend over backwards to do during the holidays in the name of “making memories” will be remember by you, not your kids. Especially for kids under 5. Your kids are far more likely to remember how you made them feel, the loving and joyful energy you brought to their lives, and the intimacy of extra time with their favorite people than they are the specific activities and gifts we tend to focus on. Do what you need to do to show up to this season with this in mind. Instead of piling more onto your plate, do what you need to do to be there for your kids in the way they truly need you to. Do less if it means you’ll be more patient and loving. Say no if it means you’ll be less stressed about your kids meeting other people’s expectations. Protect the parts of the season that matter most to your family, and let the rest go.
- Take charge of your boundaries
We often think of setting boundaries as being hand-in-hand with conflict. We tend to obsess and stress over the looming “no.” Yes, sometimes setting boundaries will mean a hard “no” and will cause some conflict. But this isn’t the only way to set boundaries.
Instead, try thinking of what you truly want to say “yes” to. Is it more downtime to play with your kids over school holiday? Is it a family dinner with close relatives, or a night out without the kids for a work party? Whatever brings you true joy, embrace that.
When you focus on what you’re saying yes to, it becomes easier to make decisions that are consistent with your priorities. And if you do this proactively, you might be able to avoid overcommitting or having to say “no” to more things than you’re comfortable with. And remember, feeling guilty at the thought of saying no to something isn’t a good enough reason to do it if it doesn’t align with your priorities.
- Embrace shortcuts
Buy the premade cookie dough. Let Amazon wrap some of your presents. Volunteer to bring napkins or salad to the potluck instead of a whole dish. Bring a baby carrier to the holiday market so your kid can nap on the go. Whatever you can do to make your life easier, do it. You’re probably the only person who will notice the difference…and you’ll have so much more energy to devote to the things that really matter to you.
This also means encouraging your partner or other family members to take on holiday tasks - without managing them. Let them truly take ownerships of the task from planning through execution, even if that means it looks different than how you would have done it. Trust me, it’s good for everyone.
- Reward yourself
Sometimes the holiday season gets so busy it feels impossible to build in moments of peace and joy for ourselves. Set yourself up to be a participant in holiday magic by intentionally planning small moments of rest and happiness for yourself - not as optional tasks to squeeze in if you get the chance, but as little rewards you can look forward to. They don’t have to be big - one of mine is literally just 5-10 minutes of playing piano while my husband bathes the kids a few times a week. Last year I bought a few of my favorite holiday candies and wrapped them in little boxes for myself to open after bedtime on Friday nights in December - it was silly and my husband laughed at me and it made me happy.
It can be hard to not view these as optional - it takes practice to build the habit of doing something just for you. But the more you can build these small moments into your days and weeks, the more you’ll look forward to them…which can help an awful lot in getting through the challenging day-to-day of motherhood.
I know these probably aren’t the self-care tips you’re used to seeing. We’re so used to self-care gurus urging us to exercise more, relax more, drink more water, more more more. But honestly, that’s not self care…not really. Are those things important? Sure. Are they really what moms need to hear when they’re already overwhelmed? Hardly ever.
True self care in motherhood is far more about changing your mindset. It’s about doing less but with more intention. It’s about letting go and figuring out what makes you tick as a person. It’s about thinking ahead to avoid burnout rather than reacting to it once it’s already on top of you.
Let this be your reminder to do what’s right for you AND your family this holiday season - because you matter more than you let yourself believe.
Ready to reclaim the magic of the holiday season? Dive into my exclusive guide, Moms Who Make Magic: 5 Pre-Holiday Mindset Shifts to Save Your Sanity. Discover transformative strategies to navigate festive challenges with grace, savor every moment, and prioritize your well-being. Because when you shine, so does the holiday magic around you. Don't miss out – grab your free copy now!
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