With all there is to do in a day, busy moms may feel they don't have time to relax. But according to Christine Koh, founder of the blog BostonMamas.com, it's imperative to make time. "I often liken self-care to airplane safety instructions -- that moms must strap on their own oxygen mask first before helping others. If you’re exhausted and depleted, you’re doing a disservice to yourself and really won’t be of much use to others."
Make Time Daily
"I once read in a running magazine that 10 minutes of running is better than no running. That concept really stuck with me," says Koh. She advises that you plug 10 minutes of relaxation time into your daily schedule. Make it something on the daily to-do list that you stick to. "Obviously, relaxing for more than 10 minutes a day would be fantastic, but even just 10 minutes a day to push the reset button will do wonders."
Reasons to Relax
What are you trying to achieve with just 10 minutes of relaxation? Koh outlines the objectives: "Quieting the mind. Relaxing the body. Expelling tension. Breathing deeply. Eating mindfully. Putting aside all of the household and work to-dos and focusing on taking care of yourself instead of taking care of other people." Striving for even small doses can lead to a happier and healthier home.
Only 15 minutes to spare? You can still squeeze in valuable relaxation time. Koh suggests focusing on a short activity that clears the mind. "Read a magazine. Paint your toenails. Meditate. Go for a walk around the block. Knit. Sip a cup of tea and enjoy doing absolutely nothing."
If you find yourself with a free half hour, you can unwind a bit more. "Go for a short run (say, 10 minutes long and take time to stretch before and after). Curl up with a good book. Write a letter to someone you love. Take a leisurely shower, including the full exfoliation/moisturizing routine. Chat with a good friend," Koh suggests. Think of a short break from the daily grind as an opportunity for rejuvenation.
If you manage to carve out an hour of personal time, Koh maintains you can get serious about relaxing. "Get a massage, facial or pedicure. Take a yoga class. Go on a nature walk and take photos during your journey. Write about your life dreams in a journal." Don't fret about that pile of laundry -- a pedicure will leave you feeling refreshed and ready to tackle tasks again.
If you have two hours of leisure time, Koh suggests heading to the movies or making something at a drop-in art studio. Or, you might take a nap, then wake up and read in bed. If you find yourself with a few spare hours, it's crucial to take advantage of it. You might not have the chance later.
A full afternoon provides an opportunity for some serious recharging. "Enjoy an outing with a girlfriend. Go to a museum and take your time soaking in pieces of art that move you. If there is a creative project you’ve been meaning to return to or start, dig in. If you find baking relaxing, pick a new, more involved recipe that you’ve been wanting to try and enjoy not having to rush the process," says Koh. If you've had a hectic stretch, make arrangements for the kids and enjoy an afternoon.
A Full Day
In the rare occurrence that you find yourself with an entire day free, Koh advises structuring a day with no errands whatsoever. She goes on to say that you should "sleep in. Eat well. Exercise. Touch base with someone you love. Do something creative. Build in stillness as part of your day." Use a free day as an opportunity to take care of yourself.
Incorporate the Kids
Can you relax even if the kids are around? Christine Koh says yes. "The other weekend my 7-year-old daughter Laurel and I decided to plant flowers in our little backyard. We worked side by side digging and planting and weeding. It was just so lovely and surprisingly relaxing!" She has also done ballet and yoga with her daughter. The key is to "pick an activity that holds the attention and interest of both parties."
Related: See more from Christine Koh here.