Caring for young children is one of the most demanding jobs there is. From feeding and diaper changes to constant supervision, caregivers have seemingly endless to-do lists. With such a busy schedule, caregivers often push their own self-care needs further and further down the list. However, taking care of yourself is essential for maintaining your mental and physical health.
Caregivers—especially of young, energetic children—often face stress, burnout, and mental health concerns. Hearing about the importance of taking time for yourself might bring up thoughts like, “OK, that sounds great, but I don’t have time!”
The good news is that practicing self-care doesn’t have to take a lot of time; even just a few minutes a day can help. And when we, as caregivers, take care of our physical and mental health, we’re in a better position to care for our children. We’ve provided some ideas for how to find 10–15 minutes a day for yourself.
When creating your child’s schedule, build in some time for yourself. Perhaps your child stays with their babysitter for 15 extra minutes each day. Or you put them to bed 10–15 minutes earlier.
If your child is 2 years old or older, set up time for them to play independently for 10–15 minutes a day. The amount of time can increase as they get older. Independent play not only gives you some time to yourself, but it also benefits your child.
When possible, ask for help from your partner, family members, or friends. Not only can it be helpful for you to get support, it also benefits children to build strong, stable relationships with adults. When children have safe, strong relationships with adults, they receive emotional support and encouragement during difficult times. This can help children feel more confident and able to overcome challenges.
If you feel comfortable with it, use childcare services, such as drop-in centers, mothers' helpers, or in-home care services. Find more information about affordable childcare options in California, as well as other resources you can rely on for help and support.
Once you set aside some time, here are some self-care activities that take only 10–15 minutes and can benefit your mental and physical health:
Deep breathing: Take a few minutes to sit quietly and focus on taking deep breaths in and out. This can help reduce stress and calm the mind.
Stretching: Do a few gentle stretches to relieve tension in the muscles and improve flexibility.
Mindful meditation: Spend a few minutes focusing on the present moment and quieting the mind through mindful meditation.
Journaling: Try writing down your thoughts and feelings. This can help you process emotions and relieve stress.
Listening to music: Listen to music that makes you feel happy and relaxed.
Drinking water: Take a few minutes to drink a glass of water to stay hydrated and improve health.
Taking a walk: Spend a few minutes walking outside to get some fresh air and exercise.
Self-massage: Use a foam roller or massage ball to release tension in the muscles.
Taking a power nap: Take a quick 10 to 15-minute nap to recharge and improve mental alertness.
Gratitude practice: Take a few minutes to write down things you are grateful for, which can help improve mental health and promote a positive outlook.
These self-care activities may seem small, but taking just a few minutes each day to take care of your own mental and physical health can make a big difference in your overall well-being.