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It’s no secret that moms can sometimes put their children’s needs before their own. But have you ever heard the saying about putting on your own oxygen mask first? The idea is that we can only take care of others if we’ve looked after ourselves. And it makes sense if you think about it: The more well-rested, properly nourished, and mentally fulfilled you are, the better prepared you are to be the best mom you can be. In other words, self-care is an absolutely critical concept for mothers to get on board with. Still, studies have shown that the average mom only gets about 17 minutes of free time to herself every day.

Clearly, it’s time for mothers to start honing in on their own needs. So, how can moms practice self-care?

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Get on a sleep schedule

Sleep obviously plays a crucial role in our overall well-being. When we’re not catching enough Z’s, we’re more likely to become irritable, have trouble concentrating on tasks and feel the effects of stress. Of course, motherhood can pose some challenges to sleeping the recommended seven hours of sleep a night. But one of the best things you can do for yourself is to make sleep a priority.

It’s a good idea to get on a schedule where you’re going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time — your internal clock will start adapting and it will be easier to fall asleep. If you have a baby, you’ll likely want to adjust your sleeping schedule to theirs. That means taking a nap while they’re taking one, whenever possible, to make sure you get adequate sleep.

You might also take advantage of the many sleep-related apps that are available. For example, there are apps that emit relaxing sounds to help you drift off into slumber and apps that analyze your sleep quality.

Sleep Cycle is an excellent choice: After you select a wake-up time, the app will gently awaken you when it detects that you’re in your lightest phase of sleep — that way, you wake up feeling as refreshed as possible. Not only that, but the app tracks your sleep patterns and offers up informative statistics that can help you get better shut-eye.

Fuel your body

How many times have you realized you forgot to eat? How many times have you been forced to eat something you consider unhealthy simply out of convenience? There are lots of ways to make sure you don’t face these scenarios.

The key is to be prepared, and that means packing snacks with you at all times so that you always have access to nutritious food, even on your busiest days. Keep pre-packaged snacks on hand that you can grab on your way out the door, such as homemade trail mix, dried roasted edamame, string cheese, fruit, kale chips, and granola.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to dive into your meal prep before the work week starts — chopping veggies, cooking grains, and marinating meat, for example, can make cooking a lot easier. And batch cooking (which just means making meals in larger quantities) can be a lifesaver for working moms because it ensures that you have leftovers to last you through the week.

Don’t forget to stay hydrated, either. Try buying a reusable water bottle that fits at least 1 to 1.5 liters and filling that up at the beginning of the day. Feel free to add fresh fruit infusions or flavor packets if it helps you to drink enough water. Dehydration puts you at risk for lack of energy, dizziness, confusion, and irritability, not to mention other more serious issues.

Related: What’s The Difference Between Maternity Bras and Nursing Bras?

Stay connected to others…

It’s important to make time for friends, family, and your significant other. Schedule date nights or a girls’ night with friends on a monthly or weekly basis, depending on what’s realistic for you. For example, you might have a standing Sunday brunch with your gal pals every first weekend of the month, or a dinner out with your partner on Friday night.

There are so many other ways you can stay connected to others and meet new people, too — such as joining a book club or group for moms or volunteering with a friend. Leverage sites like MOPS  and Meet Up to find a like-minded mommy community. Forging and maintaining relationships will do wonders for your mental and emotional health.

…And yourself

Between working, cooking, cleaning, keeping up with laundry, and making sure your kids are well fed, well rested and where they need to be, you may start feeling like your own passions and hobbies are lost in the shuffle. Make time for yourself, even if it’s just 20 to 30 minutes a day.

Some women may use this time to meditate or journal, while others might pursue creative activities they find enjoyable such as painting or gardening. Maybe you just want to use that time to dive into a good book, or take a walk and explore some part of town you’ve never been to. Regardless, make it a point to rediscover what makes you happiest.

Undoubtedly, motherhood is an incredibly rewarding phase of life, but it also comes with many challenges as well. Remember: In order to be the best mom you can be, it’s crucial to give yourself enough TLC. These self-care strategies should hopefully help you to hone in on your own needs and desires, and ultimately prioritize your overall well-being.

Related: How To Buy The Right Nursing Bra Size

Featured image lingerie:
Leila Nursing Bra NB502 in Bare
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Published by

Rebecca Strong

Rebecca is a Boston-based freelance writer who focuses on style, fitness, food, and travel. She has contributed to such publications as HuffPost, Elite Daily and U.S. News & World Report. When she's not writing, she can be found at home or in the studio working on the songs for her upcoming album. Her favorite bra is a black demi-cup style with all-over-lace — timeless and feminine.

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