The Importance of Self-care Rituals

As moms it can be tricky to take time out for ourselves. But it turns out that self-care actually makes us better parents.

stressed mom with two kids
Photo by Taylor Vogt

When Michelle Obama told Barbara Walters that she puts herself highest on her own list of priorities, Walters shot back, saying, “That sounds selfish.”

“No, it’s practical,” said Obama. “One of the things I want to model for my girls is the importance of investing in themselves.” And how, she wondered, could she do that if she wasn’t able to invest in herself?

As moms, our natural tendency is to take care of others’ needs before our own. We prioritize our kids’ dental appointments above our own. We make sure our babies are read to daily, but we forget that, hey, we like to read too. We schedule sports for our kids at the expense of our own exercise sessions. But as Obama so rightly pointed out, by putting ourselves first, we make sure that the person looking after the most important people in our lives – that is, our children – is well cared-for. Because we can’t nurture our kids properly if we don’t take care of ourselves, can we?

One of the simplest ways to put ourselves first – once in a while, at least – is to practice regular self-care. The term sounds a little woo-woo, but all it means is taking time out for ourselves. An Australian study of more than 1500 mothers showed that those who took regular (at least weekly) time out for themselves were less likely to suffer postpartum depression (PPD) in the first six months after giving birth. This might not sound that surprising, but the researchers found that taking time out for themselves was even more important in preventing PPD than having a robust support network, which has traditionally been thought to be the best way to help new mothers.

A little troublingly, the study found that of the 49 percent of moms who did take regular time out for themselves, most reported that they did grocery shopping as their “time out” activity. Alarmingly, one in six women said they never took time out.

Here at The Tot, we’re passionate advocates of taking time for ourselves. We believe it makes us better mothers, better partners, better bosses and better people. To help inspire your own self-care practice, we asked some of our favorite mamas for their ultimate me time activities.

 

Make time for exercise

 

Georgie Abay, founder of The Grace Tales, says the gym is her “happy place.” “I go to the gym a few times a week – it’s my happy place and they have a kids’ club so it’s easy to get there with the kids.”

 

Make time to do the things you love

 

Foodie Daphne Oz loves taking a walk alone when she has time for herself. “I live in NYC, and the greatest way to unwind is to walk to a new or favorite neighborhood. I walk everywhere – to do all my errands, to meetings, etc. I love listening to podcasts and audio books, so I’ll often pop one of these on, too. I’m also a huge fan of Chinese acupressure massage – they’re all over the city and you rarely need an appointment, which is perfect for the random (and rare) times I find myself with a free hour.”

 

Treat yourself and don’t feel guilty

 

Ariane Goldman, the founder of HATCH Maternity, indulges in spa treatments and romantic getaways when she can. “It’s rare [to get downtime], but I get the occasional blowout, a pedicure at tenoverten. I love hot yoga, too. And sleep! My husband Max and I try to take romantic getaways. As you know, you can’t even take a sick day with kids because they’re at home and you still have to be high energy and at the top of your game, so it’s really important to take the time you need for yourself when you can.” Indeed.

The Tot co-founder, Nasiba Adilova, swears by regular facials with skin guru Joanna Czech in Dallas, “Every time I see her, I feel like I’ve slept for hours and I actually get a spring back in my step! When I’ve got a bit of downtime, I also love to watch my favorite shows on Netflix and I also find that cooking can be a great de-stressor.”