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Since becoming a mom, I’ve discovered many things. One being the importance of supporting others. Parenting is HARD. I’m hoping I can spread some of the knowledge I’ve gained over the years and help out other parents wanting to help their kids grow and to build stronger families.

First things first though. You’ve heard the phrase “put on your own mask first”? If you don’t take care of yourself you’ll inevitably struggle to handle the immensely stressful job of homemaking and parenting. Lets be honest it takes a heaping load of patience and extra hard work to maintain a house and to raise children. It’s so easy to ignore our own needs and focus on others. We’ve got to show ourselves a little love and a little grace so that we can respond to our children with love and grace! We deserve it. We NEED it. And our children deserve a parent not on the edge of a complete mental breakdown. So if you don’t feel comfortable taking time for yourself, do it for your children. They need you to take care of yourself!

And if you think your struggles are larger than a little self care can fix, please talk to someone. Tell your doctor and/or see a therapist. There is no shame in getting help. On the contrary, it takes a strong person to seek help when they’re struggling with mental health.

I say this as a person who struggles with anxiety. Seek help when you need it. If you feel anxious more than good seeking professional help may be for you.

That being said regular self care is important to maintaining good mental health; HOWEVER, not everyone has the budget to “Go to the salon” or “Go on a weekend trip with the girls”. I know I certainly do not. Can anyone say BUDGET?! We’re working on paying down debt so fancy vacations and added expenses are certainly not happening but our mental health is still hugely important. So I’ve made a list of inexpensive places to start to take a pause, re-center and bring back a little calm to your overworked self.

Top ten (CHEAP) self-care ideas for the overworked parent

Bullet Journal

Bullet journaling seems to be super popular right now and I totally understand why! It can help you organize your thoughts, set goals, and track your progress. For me, doodling has always been soothing and relaxing. (You should see my notes from my high school days! The margins are filled with doodles.) You can get as expensive or as cheap as you want with it. You can buy lovely journals (link) and beautiful pens (link). But me, I bought a 5 dollar blank journal and simply used a black pen and my kids’ colored pencils. Low investment for a lot of relaxing time! I take my bullet journal with me to parks and coffee shops. Just enjoying the sites and sounds as I doodle and create pages to dream about and track my goals. Excellent addition to my self care regimen!

If you’re unsure about what a bullet journal is or how to start one check out my blog post ………..

Read a book (FROM THE LIBRARY)

Reading just for yourself broadens your mind! Learn about something new! Be inspired! Improve your life! Or just be entertained! It’s up to you. There are a few I’ve enjoyed enough to buy and keep to reread however so if you’re interested in the less cheap route…

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, TheWhole Brain Child and No Drama Discipline by Bantam, The Year of Less, and The Dance of Anger

… are all worth while reads that can change your life! I will likely be creating several blog posts on all of them; but, if you’re ready to start reading now, I highly suggest reading these excellent books.

Hot bath or hot shower (whichever you prefer!)

Personally I’m a bath person, and the hotter the better. I just pretend it’s a hot tub! And who doesn’t love a hot tub? If I’m extremely stressed I’ll add some bath salts, but just a hot bath and closing my eyes for 15 minutes is enough of a time to meditate and destress.

This one can be tricky though. At times there can be children knocking on the door to ask you EXTREMELY important questions like “Did you wash my underwear?” or “Why is it raining?” or “Why don’t panthers live in Ohio?” Sometimes there are children running through the bathroom doing laps around the condo. So if you can’t take a calm bath or shower, I get it. I’ve been there. Maybe try to send your partner in parenting out with the kids for a little walk or outside time. Getting in some relaxing time is important!  

Spend time outside

Nature is really the best medicine. I love to sit in silence in nature and focus on the sound of rustling leaves and birds calling to each other. I also love to garden. I have extremely limited outside space but make the best of it, growing some herbs and flowers and I love to tend my garden every day: watering, pruning, replacing dirt in pots where the adorable and pesky chipmunks have dug holes. In the morning there is nothing better than sitting on the patio and sipping coffee from my favorite mug enjoying the beautiful space I’ve created. So breath that fresh air and take time to listen and be still. It helps.

Walk or exercise

I’m more of a walk for exercise sort of person. I also love yoga. But if those things aren’t for you just do what you love! Or… do what you tolerate! Whatever gets your blood flowing and body moving! Exercise, as I’m sure you’ve been told, is a great way to destress and take care of your mental health. Exercise helps to regulate your hormones, leaving you more balanced and less tense. When I think of exercise, I think little of weight loss and more about how it makes me feel. Do I feel calmer? Do I feel stronger? Do I feel less stressed? Do I feel energized? Then it’s a win! No matter what you do, just start moving. Your body will thank you.

Get up early or stay up late

I’m an early bird. I always have been. But not everyone is and that’s fine. Just do what works for you! Its crucial for me to have that little bit of “me time” to start my day. I drink my coffee, look at the days events, review our meal plan for the day, and plan a few activities and review my to do list. For me, having my mind in the right place to start the day is a game changer. Of course you can do these things the night before as well.. while I’m asleep.

Find a creative outlet

For me, its drawing and painting. For my husband, its woodworking. My family is extremely creative, but we’ve all found our own little niche to call home. My mom knits. My brother loves singing and playing instruments. My sister loves dance and choreographs for a high school show choir. I also had a side business decorating cakes in my life pre children. Whatever your thing is just run with it! Create. Express yourself. And just have fun! Our home is full of hand made treasures that make me smile when I see them. My husband has made several pieces of furniture for our home including our headboard, shelves, wood canvases for me to paint on and a desk for himself. Just be creative and express yourself!

Find a cheap hobby

Your creative outlet can also be classified as a hobby, but there are others to choose from that wont cost you your child’s college fund to start. Perhaps you love cooking or going to garage sales or photography or home brewing or canning or hiking and exploring nature. Learning new hobbies does not have to mean busting the budget. It simply requires an interest and a love of learning new skills!

Make something delicious

My family LOVES banana bread and chocolate chip cookies and makes them probably a little too often. My husband loves making bread. Eating a beautiful salad can feel amazing! What could be better than something sweet or something delicious that just makes you feel good? Not much.

Organize on Sundays

Having a plan is crucial. The key for not going crazy for me is getting my thoughts down and organized. I like to know a rough outline of what is coming, otherwise who knows what will get done or be remembered! It frees up my head space to do other things like guide my kids into figuring out how to not harm each other when the toddler takes the remote or knocks down the four year old’s tower that they worked really hard on. Or to focus on reading a book with my kids or to play with them. I can be more in the moment when I know I already made a plan for dinner, I don’t have that tab running in the background as I try to focus on my child and to meet their needs. For an anxious, worrier like myself it seriously is a game changer.

On Sunday, I look at the week’s activities and appointments. I meal plan. And I goal set EVERY SUNDAY after reviewing last weeks goals. For more details check out my post ………..

Make a plan, but be flexible. This is life. Its messy. So if things don’t go according to plan (and they will NOT always go according to plan) its ok. Let it roll off your back. We’re dealing with small children after all! Not running a military boot camp.

I hope one of these suggestions can help you to continue on your journey toward better mental health! Leave a comment with how you’re maintain your mental health during this stressful time!