How to fit self-care into your hectic schedule and get fit, even if you are a busy working mum with small children and hate exercising
Our busy lives are overloaded and often we can’t imagine fitting in anything more. In the craziness of our busy lives we tend to neglect our self-care. It’s not like screaming kids who have to be attended immediately, or dinner that has to be cooked. These require immediate attention and have to be done no matter what. I always promise myself to fit in some self-care at the end of the day when everything is done but there is never any time left.
Ideally I would go to a gym and treat myself to a spa every now and again but at this moment in time when my baby is so small and the pandemic is ongoing, it’s not possible.
To find time for self-care and exercising has always been difficult for me until I found this super easy way to fit it into my busy schedule without compromising my daily workload and sticking to it. It then becomes part of life and your norm, no matter how busy you are. And no need for gym or spa sessions if you can’t fit them in.
If I could do it, you can too! I’m a mum of two, my new baby is 4 months old and I have millions of things on my plate. I run my own natural skincare business and I find it hard to switch off. At the same time I’m trying to keep my family well fed to be healthy and mind myself to stay sane.
I don’t like exercising except for yoga but I find it hard to schedule even an hour per week to do it. Even if I manage it, it’s a once off occurrence. I was attending gym in the past but didn’t stick to it. I blamed lack of time and I found it hard at times. Can you relate?
So what to do to take care of yourself and stay fit, well and sane? It’s about finding what you enjoy doing, breaking up self-care into tiny manageable chunks that effortlessly fit into your busy schedule, and making a habit out of it. Here’s how to do it.
I divide self-care into two categories, physical self-care that focuses on your body and emotional/spiritual self-care. Both are equally important for the overall well-being.
Physical self-care such as physical activity, healthy eating, getting enough sleep and fresh air are non-negotiable and generally are the same for all, we all need them to stay well and healthy.
The emotional and spiritual self-care would be different for every person. My non- negotiables in this category are spending time with family and being in nature, also how I care for my skin is very important to me as it hugely affects how I feel. Your emotional and spiritual self-care ideas may be different, i.e. seeing friends at least once per week or taking some time off work every 2 months etc.
Let’s look at some of these in detail and discover how to easily incorporate them into your daily life and make it a habit.
Physical activity - exercising
I find exercising the most challenging. I recently came across an article by Paul Knight who is a fitness and lifestyle coach and his approach to exercising instantly resonated with me. Its simplicity and ease of introduction into the daily routine is fascinating.
The trick is to find just 5 min per day i.e. when waiting for a kettle to boil, during which you fit in some physical activity. If you find 5 min six times during the day, you work out 30 min per day and 3.5h per week without going to a gym if that’s not possible or even leaving your home.
You can pick different types of exercise to work different muscle groups during those 5 min slots or depending on your goals i.e. float stomach workout, losing baby weight or just getting fit. You can either consciously schedule that 30 min per day for a workout if that’s possible, or grab the 5 min slots throughout the day whenever they occur to build up to 30 min.
Other concepts of Paul Knight is walking like you are late and conscious sitting. Whenever you go somewhere you walk faster, like you are in a rush to fasten your heart beat. And conscious sitting is sitting with your back straight, tummy tucked, head up and before you know it, your posture becomes nice and straight.
The repetition and regularity is key so it’s important to stick to it until it becomes a habit. In one of his blog posts Paul suggests sticking post-its everywhere as a reminder. Over time when it becomes part of your routine you won’t need reminders anymore. You can adjust your workout plan with more complicated exercises as you become fitter.
Personally, I like making lists. I have prepared a list of different exercises that I enjoy doing most. I alternate between the exercises depending how I feel and how my day goes and I tick them off the list once done, making sure I do 30 min per day.
My list contains the following: 30 min walk, 30 min yoga, walking up and down the stairs 5 min, dancing 5 min, planking 5 min, crunches 5 min, push-ups 5 min, wall squats 5 min, regular squats 5 min.
Your exercising ideas may look differently as it should suit your lifestyle and your goals. For example, I often walk my baby to sleep in a carrier for a nap. So I walk with an aim to do a workout, with a 7 kg baby on my chest. I alternate the pace between fast and slow and walk consciously with my back straight and tummy tucked. After a few minutes my heart is pumping and I’m sweating. I also do Kegel exercises while walking to strengthen pelvic floor muscles. This workout is also perfect when walking with a buggy.
So this is my cardio workout for the day. If miraculously my baby naps in a cot during the day, I pick between the 5 min exercises throughout the day to build up to 30 min.
Sometimes I’m too smashed to exercise and the self-care aim for the day is to manage to lie down. And that’s ok too as long as I have the list and I’m consciously aiming to do the 30 min each day until it becomes my habit.
Here are some examples of 5 min workout slots:
- Waiting for a kettle to boil
- You have just set up a zoom meeting and are waiting for it to start
- Dinner is nearly ready, you are just waiting for potatoes to boil
- You have just put your children to bed and it’s pointless to sit down as any minute one of them will shout for you to assist to go to the toilet
This easy system allows for a possible 3.5 hours workout per week without the hassle or time demand of going to a gym, if that’s not possible at this moment in time, or pain of trying to schedule this time in the busy schedule. I find this truly amazing.
There are times when I just want to go for a walk without a purpose, be in the moment, enjoy the fresh air and sunshine on the skin without the aim to do a workout and this is also important for the emotional well-being. This falls into the emotional and spiritual self-care.
Emotional and spiritual self-care
Emotional and spiritual self-care are things that you really enjoy doing such as:
- Spending time with family and friends
- Going for a date night
- A phone call to a friend
- Volunteering work
- Watching a movie
- Listening to the music, really tuning in and enjoying it
- Keeping a gratitude journal
- Mindful skincare ritual
- Being in nature
Basically, whatever gives you great pleasure and helps you relax falls into the emotional and spiritual self-care category.
I have written them on my self-care list too and make sure to tick off two every day.
Skincare as part of your self-care and healthcare routine
A mindful skincare ritual can be a powerful tool to uplift the spirits in a beautifully caring and nourishing way, which is so important during this challenging times.
Since our skin is the biggest organ that absorbs everything that is put on it, skincare products and how I care for my skin is important to me. Health of my skin also hugely affects how I feel.
For a long time I struggled with challenging skin and keeping it healthy used to be a battle. It’s dry and oily in places, easily irritated and prone to breakouts and broken capillaries. It took years of fighting my sensitive skin to learn that simplicity and gentleness is the key. That struggle launched me to the current path of creating Sana Naturals skincare products that help women feel good in their skin again.
There is no need for complicated skincare routines using endless list of products. Who on Earth has time to apply all this onto the skin and how can our skin thrive when it’s overloaded?
I’m an advocate of minimalist and natural skincare that is gentle and nourishing, focusing on restoring the skin’s natural healthy balance, with minimum product dependence. So even when you struggle for time, you care for your skin in the best possible way.
Just like our body, the skin needs nutrition to thrive. So as every skin, young or mature, whether it’s currently dull and imbalanced or healthy and glowing, it needs nutrition to maintain its glow or get healed.
Switching to truly natural multipurpose skincare products has many advantages. Such skincare products are super concentrated, offering superfood nutrition to your skin and a wide array of benefits. You buy and use fewer products, have less steps in your skincare routine so you save time and you get better results, faster. Also, less recycling and less waste in the landfill.
Furthermore, Sana Naturals skincare products work in harmony with your skin and health, help support your body wellness, and the unique luxe blends of aromatherapy uplift the mood and calm nerves.
How to get motivated and consistent to achieve your self-care goals
So we have a plan of self-care and a strong resolution to stick to it. To stay healthy and get fit the repetition and regularity is key. How to ensure that we do it?
If you go for the list method, it’s important to realise that this is not another to do list to add to your already busy agenda. It isn’t easy to be a mother and juggling so many things. You are already a superwoman and doing an amazing job.
Do not beat yourself up if you skip some days. This is your FEEL GOOD list that helps you relax, destress and you refer to when you need to boost your energy. Because this is exactly what exercising does, helps to release the feel good hormones – endorphins, destress and boost the energy. I think of this when I get that ‘I’m too tired to exercise today’ thought and it really helps with motivation.
This is my ‘feel good’ list for the next 6 weeks. It’s printed and kept on my kitchen counter so I see it often and tick off the activities when done.
I’m really enjoying ticking off things on my list, I feel good about myself and feel good after a workout.
My goal for now is to fit in any physical activity and self-care in my life. In 6 weeks I hope my baby will sleep better and I will readjust the schedule to suit new circumstances and level of fitness. By then doing it will become my second nature, just like face yoga exercises that I started 6 weeks ago. I have been doing them regularly every day whenever I can, while nursing, walking, watching a movie etc. and I don’t need reminders anymore, it’s a habit.
Another way to make sure you meet your goals is by keeping a journal. I discovered The Head Plan last year and I’m totally hooked. It’s Irish made and its clever design helps you achieve your yearly, monthly, weekly and daily goals, whatever they may be. The pages layout divides the goals into different categories, focusing on different areas of life that you may want to improve.
The journal isn’t dated and you can start it whenever you want. It comes with a little star bracelet that when worn, it serves as a reminder to focus on working on your goals.
I find this journal very helpful in achieving my goals and I also use it as a gratitude journal.
Everyone is different and different methods work for different people. I would love to know what works for you. Please comment below and share your experience so we can all benefit.