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18 Self-Care Ideas for Moms That Aren't Just 'Take a Shower'

by Haley Jena Fact-Checked by Caroline Picard |May 1, 2023

Because basic hygiene shouldn’t be your only source of me-time.


As a new parent, it can feel overwhelming to suddenly have little to no time to yourself with almost all of your focus on your baby. Although it can seem impossible, it's important for new parents to remember that taking care of themselves is important, too. When you can, making time for self-care can help you feel centered and more like "you" as you adjust to your new role as a parent.

Of course, many moms and dads don't have easy access to child care, which can make carving out space for self-care even more difficult. But if you're able to find time, even if only for a few minutes, try not to feel guilty for taking it — remember that self-care isn't selfish.

And when you are able to prioritize time for yourself, fill it with something that genuinely recharges you — not just the "take a shower" advice that's often recommended to new parents as a way to unwind. (Of course, showering every day is far easier said than done when you’re caring for a newborn, and it's definitely an accomplishment to fit a relaxing shower or bath into your day — but basic hygiene shouldn't be your only option for self-care!)

How to make time for self-care as a mom

Sticking to a schedule can be challenging as a new parent, especially if you have a newborn who hasn't yet settled into a predictable sleep routine. However, identifying a day and time that's usually open for you can help you make self-care a priority.

For example, if your baby tends to nap around 1:30 p.m. and your partner is home on Sunday afternoons, block out that window. 

Self-care ideas for moms

Whether you can spare a few minutes or have time for a longer activity, here are some affordable self-care ideas for moms.

Go for a walk

Taking time for a walk — whether it's a five-minute stroll around the block or an hour-long escape during your lunch hour — can be a gamechanger for your mental health. Fresh air, a change of scenery and physical activity all offer a chance to reset. 


Mindful meditation is a tried-and-true way to recharge. And it has health benefits, too: Some research suggests that a meditation practice may help reduce anxiety, depression, insomnia, stress and fatigue.[1]

New to meditation and not sure where to start? You can find free clips on YouTube, as well as meditation apps like Expectful (which is specifically designed for pregnant people and new parents), Headspace, Calm or the Mindfulness App.


Putting down your phone and diving into the pages of a good book before bed can help you power down after a long day. To keep yourself motivated, consider joining a book club with friends.

Pamper yourself

Whether it's a sheet mask or home pedicure, squeezing in a few extra minutes to pamper yourself can help you relax and de-stress. Even better? Combine your pamper session with a comforting TV show and cup of tea in a cozy bathrobe.

Call your best friend

Have 30 minutes during your baby's naptime? Schedule a phone date with your best friend. It’s remarkable how much lighter you can feel after catching up with loved ones and filling them in on your life (and hearing about theirs, too).

Keep a journal

Putting your thoughts to paper can help you check in with yourself and process overwhelming feelings.Not sure where to begin? A quick search for guided journals will deliver plenty of options, from notebooks that prompt you to write about certain topics to wellness journals.

"A gratitude journal for me has been the most helpful [self-care strategy]," said one What to Expect community parent. Even taking 30 seconds to jot down how you're feeling on your phone's notepad can help.

Take a day off social media

If you’re able, going off the grid can do big things for your mental health. Temporarily delete your go-to social media apps from your phone (or at least hide them in a folder) and disable notifications. You might be amazed at how much energy you preserve by doing so.

"Take a break from social media if you feel like you just want to stare at your beautiful baby," recommends one What to Expect community parent. "Remember you only owe yourself and your baby that time and affection. Everyone else can wait a little."

Get active

It might be the last thing you feel like doing at the time, but exercise has countless benefits for both mind and body. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), physical activity improves sleep quality and reduces feelings of anxiety after just one moderate-to-vigorous workout.[2] (Talk about taking care of yourself!)

Running low on motivation or time? Look up a short, fun dance workout on YouTube, go for a jog around the block or do some restorative yoga stretches before bed.

Cheer yourself on

Jotting down self-praise in the notes app of your phone throughout the day can help you focus on the little and big wins. Did your toddler just have a temper tantrum? Remind yourself, "I am a great mom and handled that well." Did you just crush a presentation at work?

Write, "Wow, I gave that my all, and it paid off." Or, once your little one has gone to bed, tell yourself, "I am incredible at nighttime routines." Whatever the victory, no matter how seemingly small, show yourself some love.

Wake up 15 minutes earlier for a distraction-free cup of coffee 

If you cherish quiet time, consider winding back your alarm clock 15 minutes before everyone else usually wakes up to get your morning off to a slow, peaceful start. Even a few minutes to enjoy a hot cup of coffee or tea can help set the tone for the day ahead. 

Take a nap 

It can feel tempting to knock out items from your to-do list while your little one sleeps, but give yourself permission to rest when you need it.

"After I just gave birth to our second, I found sleep and rest to be the most important self-care activity," wrote one What to Expect community parent. 

Recite affirmations

If you're short on time, repeating positive affirmations that resonate with you can be an easy way to squeeze in self-care. For example, while you’re taking a shower, making coffee or tidying up around the house, recite positive affirmations, such as "I am capable of anything," or "I am unconditionally loved."

Explore a new hobby

Discovering (or re-discovering!) a hobby you're passionate about can be a fun way to make time for yourself. If you enjoy music, consider researching new artists or teaching yourself an instrument. If physical activity energizes you, see if there are any free fitness classes in a nearby park, or download a fitness app that inspires you.

Bake a delicious treat

If cooking helps you unwind, plan an afternoon to make comfort food that brings you joy, whether it's a batch of chocolate chip cookies or your Grandma's famous meatball recipe. Put on your favorite tunes and a comfy outfit, and cook away.


Volunteering is an excellent way to give back to your community and make time for causes you're passionate about, whether it's working in a community garden, walking dogs at a nearby shelter or helping neighbors clean up your local park.

Not sure where to begin?

Get crafty

If exercising your creative muscles helps you feel energized, try to schedule time for your passions, whether it's crocheting, photography or drawing. "[I’m] about to order an adult coloring book," shared one What to Expect community parent. "I heard that it relaxes you."

Tell your loved ones when you need help or space

Of course, not everyone has support in the form of a partner, family or friends who can offer child care help, but if your loved ones can step in to give you a break, let them.

"Be vocal about your needs with your partner," recommends one What to Expect community parent. "It’s so easy to assume they know you need a break, even if it’s a silent and solo trip to the store (which can feel like luxury in the newborn days). They likely won’t know unless you say, 'Hey, I need a couple of hours totally to myself. When can we make that happen?'"

Consider therapy

New parenthood comes with a lot of changes that can make you feel overwhelmed and anxious, thanks to varying hormone levels, less sleep and suddenly being responsible for another person. If you think you could benefit from therapy, especially if you believe you might be experiencing symptoms of a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder, reach out to your practitioner. 


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