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Learning to Take Care of Myself

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Before I had a baby, I promised myself I wouldn’t become one of those everything-is-about-my-kid parents. I wouldn’t revolve my whole life around my child. I would love her. I would be there for her. I would spend tons of quality time with her. But I would also make sure to take care of myself so I stayed healthy, happy, and, well, me. I believe that in order to teach healthy behaviors to my baby girl, I have to model them for her. And I think one of the healthiest behaviors (that I’ve yet to master personally) is taking care of yourself.

Of course, now that I’m a Mama, I realize that finding time to care for yourself is much easier said than done. It’s damn hard to figure out how to put yourself on your own priority list. When you have a free half hour and the laundry needs to be done, you have 10 emails to answer, and the kitchen floor needs swept, those items all feel so much more important than going to gym or relaxing in a bubble bath. But what I’m trying to teach myself (and eventually, pass on to my daughter) is that those items aren’t more important than self-care. If anything, they’re less important because if you don’t take care of yourself, eventually it catches up to you and everything else comes crashing down. It isn’t selfish to take care of yourself. And there are no medals for being a Mommy martyr (which, worth noting, I think this is a problem that extends way beyond motherhood—I think everyone, parent or not, struggles with this, I just don’t know of a better phrase to label it).

I’ve been working on giving myself higher priority in my life for years. In certain aspects, I’ve succeeded. But, for the most part, I still really struggle with showing myself compassion and appreciation. I consider myself a compassionate person who is deeply grateful to lead such a fortunate life, but I still struggle with seeing myself through the same positive lens that I view the rest of the world. I’m working on it. And now that I have a tiny human that I’m molding, I want to work even harder. For better or worse, I will be her main model for how she treats herself in the future—and I want her to be a compassionate person. I want her to have compassion for others and for herself. And I’m the person she’s going to learn it from. How’s that for motivation to get my act together? The irony of this is that having a child has become my main motivation to make my life about more than just having a child. Oh universe, you work in funny ways.

Lately, I’ve been working on this by taking baby steps (pun intended) daily. I’m not reformed enough to book a long weekend at a spa, but I am seeing my own value enough to slowly implement self-care into my everyday. I thought I might share some of the ways I’ve been taking care of myself lately. They aren’t major, but they are important.

Eating dinner with my family

dinner quiche salad

I’m a pretty skilled multitasker, which also means that I struggle when I am just doing one thing at a time. This really applies to mealtimes. I’ve always struggled with just eating. I always feel like I need to eat and answer emails. Or eat and watch TV. Or eat and read a book. But lately I’ve been trying to eat most meals—especially dinner—and just focus on eating and conversing with my family. Not only is it a nice, relaxing break in the day, but it is also a lot healthier from a nutrition stand-point—I can focus on being aware of my food and my hunger instead of mindlessly overeating.

Taking a walk everyday

me feet flip flops

I’m not quite to the point where I can devote the kind of time to doing a long gym session or going to a fitness class everyday, but I can take a walk. Somedays, I’m lucky if I can get 10 minutes in, but even just that few minutes outside makes me feel so refreshed. I leave my phone in the house, and I just walk around and take in this beautiful place I live.

Two days off a week

Me and JuneBug Walk

Taking full days off from work is one of the hardest things for me to do, but it’s also one of the most restorative. I’ve started taking Wednesdays and Saturdays and signing off of work all day. I don’t answer emails. I try not to check into social media. I definitely don’t do any design work or writing. I just spend those two days enjoying life! Wednesday is my day with the baby girl (while Craig does school work), and we’ve taken to spending that day going to park, hanging out at the library, and playing for hours and hours. It is such a fun way to spend the day! And on Saturdays, we have family day where we go on hikes, go visit fun local towns, and soak up our time together.

Treating myself to a fancy coffee

Dunkin Donuts Coffee

Since I had to give up dairy and soy because of nursing, I’ve found myself really missing the ritual of stopping off at a coffee shop and getting some sweet, dessert-y coffee drink. I didn’t do it very often, but it was a small way for me to take care of myself when I was out running errands. I don’t think I quite realized how important it was to me before I couldn’t do it anymore. There is something so soothing about getting a coffee and walking around Target, you know? That’s why I was so incredibly excited when my friends at Blue Diamond Almonds sent me an email last week telling me that Dunkin Donuts was starting to carry Blue Diamond almondmilk in their stores for use in coffees and lattes. I am so happy that I can get back to my fancy coffee ritual (with decaf coffee and almondmilk).

Sticking to my hobbies

DIY Taggie Blanket

I don’t have the same kind of time to devote to my hobbies as I did before, but I still think it’s important for me to carve out a few hours per week to sew, craft, and garden. Doing these projects really helps refresh me and keep me sane! I used to be able to devote a few days to a project and really plow through from start-to-finish, but I’m realizing now that I have to work on projects in manageable chunks. I can no longer just go hide away in my sewing nook and work on something for eight straight hours. I have a few fun projects up my sleeve to show you guys over the next few months!

Showing appreciation for myself

kitchen

I believe that words are powerful, including the words we use to talk about ourselves. Admittedly, I’m not always kind to myself. When something goes wrong, I’m the first to assign blame to myself. I’m trying to head off those negative words, and instead give myself the benefit of the doubt. Mistakes happen. Life becomes tricky. I’m human. And it’s okay to be human. On the flip side of this, I’m also trying to show myself some appreciation when I do positive things. I’m allowing myself to feel proud. Even if it’s as small as making sure my kitchen is clean at the end of the day. It’s okay to feel proud of yourself!

What do you guys do to try and take care of yourself? How do you manage to carve out the time?

Cassie is the founder and CEO of Wholefully. She's a home cook and wellness junkie with a love of all things healthy living. She lives on a small hobby farm in Southern Indiana with her husband, daughter, two dogs, two cats, and 15 chickens.

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14 Responses
  1. I feel the same way being a new mommy and trying to find “me” time. The thing that my husband has been great about it letting Saturday mornings be about me – whether that is blogging, getting my nails done, exercising without the baby, and then later in the day we make it a family day.

  2. Rashada

    I have been a mom for 6.5 years (longer if you include the pregnancy for my first) and I constantly suffer from Mommy martyrdom and guilt and haven’t been very good about taking care of myself.
    Two of my three kids spent months (8 and 11 months) screaming for anyone but me, even daddy. Which meant I couldn’t even use the bathroom in peace, much less feel ok leaving the house to go do something for me.
    Thankfully, my baby is now much better for daddy, and I have started taking karate twice a week.
    I’m really glad to hear that you are working on the little things that are just for you.

  3. Barbara Ford

    Love that picture of you and Baby J! I’m committed to getting up early to have some quiet time and go to the gym every morning before my daughter is up. Sometimes it feels REALLY early, but it’s always worth it once I’m done.

  4. Martha

    I am quite excited to read this post – looks like an awesome one. But I just wanted to give you a heads up that the title reads “learning to take cake of myself” (which I actually thought was some kind of awesome pun for a post about baking). And now that I think about it, cake DEFINITELY = self-care…

  5. Jennifer

    After 12 years in marriage and homeschooling 4 kids for the last 2 years, I have learned having lunch with my friends or just going for a walk at the park, does wonders for my santity. Plus it allows my husband to develop a relationship with the kids.

  6. Christina

    My ‘me’ time changes depending on the mood that I am in but it’s often doing my nails, having a bath, checking out pintrest, exercising or having a girls night. It’s all based on sacrificing something to get that time in for me.

  7. May I ask you a question? I am a soon to be breast feeding mamma and wondered how you came to the decision to cut milk out of your diet? I was just curious as to why you are doing it and if there are some articles you could recommend for me? Thanks!

    1. Cassie

      We were having issues with reflux, and after chatting with our pediatrician about it and other symptoms she had (strange looking dirty diapers, rashes, etc.) I decided to try cutting out the most common food breastfeed babies have an issues with—dairy. And it seemed to help! It’s called a Milk and Soy Protein Intolerance, there is a ton of great info out there about it!

  8. tina

    I hear ya! It has taken me until this year to REALLY figure out how to do this (and my son is 3). What has helped is recognizing what self-care habits are essential to my well-being and success and identifying how impactful they are on how I feel and how I work. For example, I NEED 7 hours of sleep and have to sacrifice getting up at 5am and having quiet time with coffee and a book or Candy Crush, if I went to bed late. Of course, I think also as your child hits different developmental stages and becomes more independent or has different needs, that helps too.

    And almond milk at Dunkin!? Starbucks needs to get on that! Mmmmm!

  9. My focus tends to go to what is going to make me happy in that moment. Like today, it was drinking my cold press coffee and watching a whole lot of Netflix (specifically, Parenthood). Most days it isn’t so technology heavy, so I usually resort to cleaning/organizing something, making sure I get to CrossFit, and focus on my eats that day!

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I'm a home cook and wellness junkie with a love of all things healthy living. Come along as I explore good food, holistic wellness, natural homekeeping, gardening, and all the other things that bring me joy!

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