A self-care checklist is a helpful tool for ensuring you take care of yourself daily. Being a mama to little ones is demanding and all-consuming, but incorporating self-nourishment, peace, beauty, and love into your routines helps prioritize your well-being and find rejuvenating moments in the midst of motherhood.
January is a great time to organise and set up everything for the year ahead. But amid all the planning and goal-setting, don’t forget to make your own needs a priority. Self-care is not a luxury or a selfish indulgence. It’s a necessity and a responsibility.
Self-care is about making sure that you’re nourished and supported so that you show up with a willing heart, a replenished body and a calm mind for your family and your work, whatever that may be. It’s about creating a balance between your needs and your family’s needs, without sacrificing your well-being.
But how do you practice self-care when you’re busy and overwhelmed? When you barely have time to go to the bathroom on your own at any given moment, let alone enjoy a bubble bath or a cup of tea that’s still hot? When you are constantly juggling multiple roles and demands, even tending to your basic needs can be a challenge.
As a mother of two under three, I know how challenging it can be to find time and space for self-care practices. I’ve found that keeping a basic self-care checklist coupled with intentional routines and rhythms has made a very positive impact on my physical health, stress levels and emotional state.
Self-Care Basics with Nourishing Routines and Rhythms
My self-care checklist is not a rigid or unrealistic plan. It’s not an extension of a to-do list that pressures me into action. But rather, a flexible and intentional philosophy that guides me to make choices that are nourishing. It’s a way of infusing my days and my home with beauty so that my environment in turn cares for me. Being intentional with self-care is a way of offering myself love on a regular basis, so that I can be an overflowing source of it to all of those who dwell within my home.
A book that I adore on healthy habits is “Atomic Habits” by James Clear. He brilliantly explains the science of why small steps practised on a daily basis, can lead to the most profound results. He writes “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems”.
This is why the foundations of self-care strategies should be about making sure that your routines, and systems cover your basic needs and include a generous serving of self-care habits. When you have little people needing you at all hours of the day, it’s so important to have the systems set up in place, so that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every day. A good daily rhythm ensures that you’re getting enough sleep at night, have restful moments throughout the day, and are well-nourished and properly hydrated.
For me, getting enough sleep looks like getting to bed at 10 pm. I know that sleep is essential for my physical and mental health and that I function far better when I have a regular bedtime.
I love tea! More than that, I love the ritual of morning and afternoon tea. I believe it’s a very British habit that Australians have well and truly adopted. Some of my fondest memories growing up were having buttered tea cake and apple and cinnamon tea in the afternoon with my mum and sister around the kitchen table.
In this season of motherhood, I try to have a tea break at least once throughout the day, where I brew myself a nice cup of tea and sit in my armchair, take a deep breath and sip it slowly. I may have a baby on my lap at the same time, or a rambunctious toddler running around the room, but what matters is that I’m intentionally taking that moment to be still and not multitask. It’s a simple way to pause and breathe and enjoy a warm and soothing drink. A calming punctuation to my day.
A habit that I love is when I make my morning coffee, I also put on a big pot of nourishing herbal tea. I love my London Pottery Farmhouse 1.2 litre teapot for this. It sits on the kitchen counter and it prompts me to drink my herbs throughout the day. It doubles up as hydration and getting all the benefits of the herbs at the same time. I’m currently drinking a cosy blend of catnip, chamomile, fennel and lavender. But I also use nettle, raspberry leaf, oat straw and chamomile either as singles or in combinations, which are all great for supporting women’s health and energy levels.
I also have a Klean Kanteen drink bottle that has a 750 ml capacity, so I know that if I finish my teapot and have two refills of my drink bottle, I am doing great on the hydration front. Being in summer and exclusively breastfeeding means that it’s pretty punishing when I don’t properly hydrate throughout the day. I can feel the difference in my energy, mood and milk supply when I drink enough water, so it’s essential on my daily self-care checklist.
Getting dressed in a cute outfit every morning makes such a difference to my mindset. Being a stay-at-home mum is an incredibly important job with great responsibility, and I like to respect this role by dressing for it properly. I love to wear simple summer dresses with some Blundstones or Birkenstocks in summer. I also do a very simple skincare morning routine (usually a spritz with some rose water, a light moisturiser and some BB cream) and a touch of blush and lipstick. It makes me feel put together and ready for the day.
Eating Well & Taking Supplements
I try my best to eat my meals slowly and savour them. Just as I did when I worked outside the home, I like to think of 12pm as a cue for a lunch break. We eat all our meals at the dining table even though the kids are so small (meal planning makes this process so much simpler). I take my supplements every day by putting them into a weekly pill box and keeping it in the fridge where I can see them. Along with a balanced diet, I take my morning and evening supplements, which are a prenatal, magnesium, vitamin D and fish oil. This, along with my herbal tea, is my “replenish-the-mother” plan which I prescribed variations of form many a patient in my naturopathic days and now take myself.
Cultivating Peace with a Simplified Schedule
The second part of my self-care checklist is thinking about how I structure my weeks. I love the Flylady system for this and keeping a list of what I like to get done each day along with my daily responsibilities in my homekeeping binder. I’m not strict on what each day of the week has to be, it’s more knowing that there are these seven themes that can be moved around on any given week depending on what’s going on. I know that when those seven things are done, my life runs a whole lot more smoothly and stress levels are kept in check.
All of these events are in the family calendar, so they are protected and it makes them happen. I think something that makes it all so successful is that all the self-care activities are married up with something else. Exercise is married up with a catch-up and a coffee with a friend. Grocery shopping for nourishing food is made up of catching up with other mums. It makes it sustainable and I love the way that it structures my time.
Monday: Home Reset & Week Set Up
Mondays are always a busy day! My son is at kindergarten, so I take the opportunity to do a reset of the home. This means clean sheets on all the beds, the house tidied up, floors vacuumed and mopped, windows cleaned, and rubbish taken out ready for bin night the following day. I also love cutting some fresh flowers from the garden and getting a double batch of sourdough on.
Tuesday: Plan and Play Day
On Tuesdays, I put aside time to check in with our budget, pay bills, catch up on text messages and emails, plan our menu for the week, and take a look at the calendar to make sure that I’ve got some fun planned for everybody. For me, that includes scheduling time with friends who are not local for phone conversations or Zoom catch-ups.
Wednesday: Anti-Procrastination Day
On Wednesdays, I just do one or two things that I’ve been putting off. Getting these things done is amazing for self-care, as it’s those little irritating things that bother me when I haven’t got done. Knowing that I have a space to be able to chip away at them is so beneficial to my mental health.
Thursday: Errand Day
On Thursdays my husband’s home. I love to start the day by swimming at the lake early in the morning, no matter the weather or season – the most glorious act of self-care and my favourite source of stress relief. A cold water swim, a hearty breakfast and a hot coffee always puts me in the most wonderful frame of mind. He and my son have a special day together and baby and I run errands in town, doing the grocery shopping, going to the post office, doing various bits and bobs, and catch up with a group of mums for a coffee at the end of it all.
Friday: Date Night
Friday is date night. The vast majority of dates are at home and doing something intentional with my husband. It’s usually having dinner together after the kids go to bed over a candle and talking and cuddling up to a movie. That’s typically all we have energy for at the moment.
He also bought us for our wedding anniversary a book called “Couple Edition Adventure Challenge” and it’s been fun to do some of these as date nights, as there are plenty of options for ideas of what to do at home.
Saturday: Family & Friend Day
One of the new habits that I am trying to get going this year is morning tea on Saturdays. A slot that we have every Saturday where we invite a neighbour, some friends or new people we’ve met that we would love to nurture a relationship with over for a pot of tea and a great sweet treat.
It’s really hard as parents with young kids to do dinners or lunches, as they coincide with naptime or bedtime, but morning tea is a great window. Baby can be napping in her room and it’s my toddler’s best time of the day.
Sunday: Rest and Renew Day
Sunday rest and renew day. It starts with a swim at the lake, popping back home to feed baby and then a yoga class with a friend and a coffee and chat afterwards. It is my day of renewal and it’s been one of the best habits I have cultivated over the past two years.
Cultivating Beauty in Your Environment
The third part of my self-care checklist is about cultivating beauty in my physical and digital environment. For me, having an environment that’s filled with a beautiful atmosphere is a form of self-care and also one of the subtle ways I can take good care of all the different people in my home.
I think it’s a useful practice to look at what we’re absorbing from our environment, from our physical environment, and also our digital environment. What media are we consuming? What worldviews and narratives are we exposing ourselves to and embodying?
It’s really important to be aware of what portrayals of motherhood we are imbibing from social media as well. Doing a declutter of what you are nourishing your mind and heart within your digital world is a very powerful practice for your emotional health.
There are habits that you may like to put on your self-care checklist that are entirely dedicated to the kind of environment that you create for yourself. To me, these are:
Remember to play the lovely music on the stereo system throughout the day for everyone to enjoy. Or upbeat playlists on my cordless headphones when I’m tidying up the house.
Filling our bookshelves with wonderful books from all kinds of authors and people from different walks of life. I’m so excited that my son is getting to the age where he loves flipping through books on his own.
Pick the Blooms, Light the Candle & Diffuse the Essential Oils
Taking the time to put the essential oil blend in the diffuser for the day, to light the candles at night over dinner, or to gather the flowers from the garden and have small vases throughout the house. They all add such cosy touches and nourish my sense of beauty.
Cuddling up into crisp sheets on a Monday. Having a cold shower and using a lemon verbena body wash before slipping on a clean cotton nightie in the summer or flannel sheets and, a hot water bottle with snuggly socks in the winter. These are the little things that make me feel pampered and comfortable in my bed.
Setting up a pot of tea the night before and a candle with a timer, so that in the morning, all that needs to be done is boiling water poured into a teapot. This is a way of starting my day with a ritual that is calming and cozy, and that makes me feel ready for whatever the day brings.
These are the actions I can take so that my home hugs me throughout the day and makes self-care effortless.
Offering Yourself the Same Love that You Offer Your Children
The last part of my self-care checklist is about offering myself the same love and care that I offer my children. This is an idea I have heard from Diane in Denmark, but I have yet to put it into practice, and I feel that 2024 is a perfect time to gather one together. And this is a pamper basket. A basket, a drawer, a bag you fill with beautiful things that take care of yourself in the little moments you have throughout the day.
What’s in My Pamper Basket?
In my pamper basket, which I keep next to the armchair I do most of my nursing throughout the day, I keep:
- a lovely rose hand cream
- an essential oil roller with a calming blend
- a timer
- my Kindle
- a journal and a pen.
Other ideas are a box of chocolates (while I would love to do this, my toddler would sniff this out and it just wouldn’t work), some magazines and nail polish if you’re somebody who enjoys painting their nails, or a face mask.
What I found putting together this basket is that often those gifts that you get given for Christmas or birthday, the hand cream, the body spritz, the candle, this is a great place to put those gifts intended to care for yourself in a place that means that they will get used on the daily.
Little Moments of Care
What I love about this idea is that when you do find yourself with a small pocket of time, you don’t have to think about what you would like to do to take care of yourself. It’s a self-care checklist in a basket. You simply need to look at it, see what appeals to you, and know that whatever you pick is giving yourself a bit of love.
It’s a way of treating yourself with kindness and compassion and reminding yourself that you are worthy of care and attention.
Create Your Self-Care Checklist
I hope this post has inspired you to do your evaluation of your daily routine, the way you structure your week, the environment you’ve created for yourself, and the love you offer yourself. I hope you have found some ideas and tips that resonate with you and that you can incorporate into your self-care checklist.
A self-care routine is not selfish or indulgent. It’s a way of honouring the importance of the work that you do in your home and for your family. It is a way of nurturing the souls that dwell within your home, including your own. It is a way of cultivating a positive mindset for this phase of life, which is filled with challenge and work that is never-ending, and that is often invisible. But you can offer yourself recognition and gratitude, and by taking the time to create these nurturing systems for yourself, you can make self-care effortless and enjoyable.
It’s been so fun organising January with you. I’m looking forward to our theme next month, which is looking at our finances, and being intelligently frugal in our homes. Until then, be well.