I’m sure you hear it all the time… “you need to take better care of yourself,” “prioritize self-care,” “stop burning yourself out,” “What have you done lately to fill your cup?” And all sorts of other comments or questions that imply you need to add more items to your ever-growing to-do list. But what about the parents who desperately need self-care, but have no means to handle it without kids in tow? Can you manage self-care with kids??
What is self care?
Self-care is essential to be a fully functioning adult. What few people seem to understand is that self-care isn’t always going out for pedicures or painting classes with wine.
Self-care is doing something you enjoy that fills you up. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase:
You can’t pour from an empty cup
Or perhaps, you’ve heard:
Overflow your cup so you may pour into others
While both of these ring true, self-care is more than just going out and pampering yourself. Sometimes self-care is meal planning and making freezer meals to support you and your family on upcoming crazy days where you won’t want to cook. Sometimes self-care is doing something that makes you laugh so hard your stomach and face aches.
Self-care looks different for everyone. It may bring out the creative spark within you… or it may be indulging in a rare fun book to read. Regardless of what you choose to do for self-care, at least do something. This will help beat the overwhelmed burnout that is so common among busy parents.
Why Should You Manage Self Care With Kids??
Life isn’t always accommodating to the parents who desperately need to fill their cups and set themselves up for success.
I know all too well how difficult managing self-care with kids can be as a military wife, homeschooling mom of two, blogger, and entrepreneur who lives halfway across the country from any family. We move all the time, so it takes a while to develop trust with new people with finding childcare, support systems, or any type of help. I’ve heard it myself: “you need to take more time off to do something you enjoy”… and my answer is always the same… “ummmm…. how?”
When Kids Wont Give You A Break…
It’s no secret: there is no shortage of things to do. And sometimes just finding time for you that isn’t 11 pm when you’re insanely exhausted can be flat out impossible. And if you’re like me, waking up early isn’t an option too. Why? Well… in my home… my older son (5) has always had this uncanny ability to know when I’m up and moving, even if I’m quieter than a mouse. He just knows, and forces himself awake at 100mph, disrupting everything I had planned… then spends the rest of the day fussing in over-tired exhaustion. Totally the opposite of self-care.
Don’t Fret or Ignore Yourself… Initiate Self Care as a Family….
Instead of stressing yourself out and just giving the fight, sacrificing your own self-care needs to the whims and needs of your children, invite them into your routine.
To avoid stress, make it fun. Focus on laughter and quality time together. You’ll effectively create positive memories to share with your children, while also building up your sanity levels and filling your heart.
Pleasant Side-Effect to Self Care with your Kids
We often forget how difficult it is for us to learn self-care; how difficult it is for us to prioritize ourselves through life’s chaos. It is easy to obsess over creating your own self-care routine… but what about our kids? Kids need self-care too… not just adults.
When you shamelessly indulge in your own self-care routine WITH your kids, you are also teaching them to value who they are. You’re teaching them how to be mindful. You’re teaching them what to do to set themselves up for success. These are massively important lessons you may or may not have learned as a child that will serve their transition to adulthood in the future.
Plus self-care as a family provides some amazing bonding time. It shows your children you value them. You teach them that they are also a priority. And you deepen their relationship and trust levels with you and your trust levels in them.
90 Genius Ways To Manage Self Care With Kids
Self-care, with or without kids present, is quite literally unlimited. In this article, I’ve curated a growing list of my favorite things to do with my boys. To help make it easier for you to browse (instead of giving just one big ugly list), I’ve compiled it into categories for you. I hope you enjoy it!
- Kitchen Fun
Writing Self Care Ideas You Can Do With Your Kids
- Journal, if your kids are old enough to write. Here is 300 Creative Writing Prompts For Kids.
- Write stories together (this would also work if your kids are too young to write. When my son was 4 he would tell me stories that I would write)
- Go to the library and pick out books
- Tell jokes
- Write poetry
- Fill in Mad Libs
- Draft dream lists of things you want to do together
- Piece together lists and collages of places you want to go together
- Write lists of activities you want to do together
- Make a competition to draft the funniest story
Kitchen Fun Self Care Ideas You Can Do With Your Kids
- Bake something fun – this is my favorite Paleo dessert recipe book
- Cook a meal together. If you need ideas, this is my favorite kid-friendly Paleo cookbook
- Work together to create weekly meal plans
- Spend time together creating freezer meals for future hectic days when you won’t feel like cooking (or have time)
- Make your own ice cream together
- Create your own volcano with vinegar and baking soda
- DIY your own play dough for sensory play
- Make your own lemonade (this is my favorite lemonade recipe)
- Conduct small science experiments
- Blindfolded taste tests with foods like grapes, berries, raisins… etc.
Activity-Based Self Care Ideas You Can Do With Your Kids
- Have a dance party in the living room or backyard
- Play board games together
- Play card games together
- Take some screen-free time and read a book – either with each other or next to each other
- Exercise together (my 2-year-old and 5-year-old sons love to climb on me while I work out on our Total Gym… also adds to the weight I’m lifting)
- Take a bike ride
- Make up imaginary games to play together
- Go for a walk around the neighborhood
- Have fun doing a nature walk together
- Walk along a hiking trail
- Go swimming
- Garden – flowers, veggies, trees… etc
- Go on a picnic
- Swing at the park
- Go out for ice cream
- Call or FaceTime with family or friends
- Skip rocks on a pond, lagoon, or river
- Go fishing
- Explore a local farm for berry picking or through a pumpkin patch
- Play a sport together, like soccer, basketball, volleyball, football, or t-ball
- Chase each other at the playground or nearby field
- Explore a new museum, park, farm, or area in your town or city
- Go kayaking or canoeing
- Plan a trip to somewhere you’ve never been before – great for exploring your local area… and actually go
- Build a fort together, and play games or read books inside it
- Play capture the flag
- Go to a rock climbing gym together
- Go to a pet store or aquarium and watch the fish swim around
- Participate in volunteering for a local nonprofit together (my boys LOVE playing with dogs at the animal shelter)
- Make a list of 30 random acts of kindness you can do together… and go do them (one a day would be perfect)
Artistic Self Care Ideas You Can Do With Your Kids
- Painting something together
- Color in a coloring book, downloaded coloring pages or drawing your own coloring pages to color in
- Building something together
- Craft together, whether it’s crocheting, knitting, scrapbooking, card making… etc
- Learn something new (instrument, language, hobby, etc.)
- Make an inspiration collage
- Create your own scrapbooks from your adventures together
- Go through old scrapbooks and talk about past adventures.
- Make silly drawings together
- Create your own puzzles together,
Sensory Self Care Ideas You Can Do With Your Kids
- Take a nature walk with a scavenger hunt
- Go on a Safari – the goal is to notice as many different animals, birds, bugs, and different plants as possible
- Use the Smiling Mind app (great for kids 7+)
- Blowing bubbles, focusing on deep, slow breaths, and exhaling to fill the bubble, talking about how bubbles form, detach, float away, and pop.
- Blowing into pinwheels, paying attention to breathing techniques
- Playing with balloons – The point of this game is to keep the balloon off the ground, but by moving slowly and gently.
- Sensory Bag – Place several small, differently shaped, and textured objects in a bag. Have your child reach in and touch an object, one at a time, describing what they are touching without looking, forcing them to use only their sense of touch to explore the object. You could also use water beads
- Sensory Play – Play with water beads, play dough, clay, or different crafting items like poms or pipe cleaners.
- Making a list of ways to bless other people, and doing those activities together
- Make a game out of finding different things in your surroundings
Parent-Child Pampering Self Care Ideas You Can Do With Your Kids
- Have a dance party in the living room or backyard
- Enjoy a DIY pedicure/manicure with your child
- Diffuse essential oils during quiet time, reading time, or other activities at home
- Brush and/or braid each other’s hair, if your child’s hair is long enough
- Make and apply face masks (here is my favorite DIY Face Mask Recipe)
- Make and apply sugar scrubs
- Go get a massage or facial together (if your kids are old enough)
- Enjoy sitting in a therapeutic salt cave together (we love going when they also do the singing bowl sessions)
- Go to a salon together to get your hair done
- Indulge in a “coffee” date together (we love getting smoothies together)
Relaxing Self Care Ideas You Can Do With Your Kids
- Take time to be still, and list out aspects in your life you’re thankful for
- Move Your Body
- Call or FaceTime with family or friends who live far away
- Watch funny videos on YouTube
- Listen to music or an audiobook together
- Learn something new (instrument, language, hobby, etc.)
- Take silly pictures together (my son loves the puppy Snapchat filter)
- Plan a trip to somewhere you’ve never been before – great for exploring your local area
- Enjoy a puzzle together… or work together to create your own puzzle
- Spend time in a hammock snuggling while reading a book, talking, or discovering cloud shapes
Possibilities for Managing Self Care with Kids are Literally Endless…
I hope you enjoyed reading through this list of self-care ideas that my family enjoys. I would love to hear about your favorites in the comments!
Comment below and let us know:
What do you do for self-care with your child(ren)?
Additional posts about being home and spending time with kids:
- 25+ Moms share their favorite tips for working from home with kids
- 25+ clever and simple ways to make money from home (many you can achieve while also being home with your kids)
- Career goal to stay home with kids?
- Work at home moms, know your worth!
- Turn Your Child’s Learning into Self-Care
A Note From Nicole
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Nicole is a military-trained research analyst, homeschooling mom, healthy lifestyle coach, flexible business consultant, and writer for MotherhoodTruth.com and GracefullyAbundant.com. After living through and overcoming a season of homelessness and chronic health, Nicole developed a passion for helping others develop healthier habits using functional nutrition, herbalism, and renewing faith.