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30 Self Care Ideas in Under 30 Minutes

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As mothers, we hear it all the time, “make sure you practice self care.” No one tells dads this, and no one had to remind you of this before having kids. But something changes once they lay that tiny little person on your chest. You’re no longer living just for you, and all your energy goes into keeping this new little person alive and happy. Unfortunately, you can’t get water from an empty well, so as moms, we need to take care of ourselves. It may seem selfish, unimportant, or time consuming, but a happy, well-rested, energized momma makes for the best momma for her kiddos.

I know the early months, when you’re not sleeping and can barely remember your own name, are HARD! Even now, when I don’t get enough regular sleep, I can expect myself to be grumpier and less forgiving (of my kiddo, my husband, and especially myself). So I can no way say that I have this self care thing down. All I can do is give you my best self care ideas that you can perform in under 30 minutes so you can feel reenergized, so you’re able to take good care of your family.

The last thing we want to do as mothers is lose our sense of self. Our kids are the best thing that happened to us, but we’re still us.

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How much time do you need for self care?

You need as much time for self care as you need to feel rested, relaxed, and most importantly, like yourself. I would suggest at least 15-30 minutes a day. However, if there are times when you’re just feeling crummy, take an hour or two, plan a girl’s trip, or a weekend with just your husband. When you feel yourself being overwhelmed, moody, or down-right mean (and that’s not your normal personality), it’s time for a break. Taking just 30 minutes everyday should be enough to keep yourself balanced.

Related: Fall in Love at Omni Bedford Springs Resort

Why is it so hard to practice self care?

I think when you become a mother, you immediately get a guilt card. I know I’ve never felt more guilt in my life about decisions I’ve made. If I take time during the day to do the dishes, instead of playing or reading… GUILT. If my husband takes over baby duty, and I lie down for an hour… GUILT. When I was working, if I got too caught up in things and didn’t spend a minute thinking about my kiddo… GUILT.

So the biggest hurdle to self care… you guessed it GUILT.

First off, we have to stop putting pressure on ourselves about what others think. C-sections are real births. Fed is best. SAHM and working moms are each doing their best to provide for their children. Each baby is different so each momma is different. We carry enough of our own guilt and worry that we’re doing a good job, we don’t need outsiders cutting us down.

When it comes to overcoming your own guilt about self care, realize that 30 minutes a day, or a weekend or two a year, is not taking away from all the things that you do as a mother to provide a loving and safe home for your child. And that time away you need to recharge is just as important for your kiddos as it is for you.

How do I schedule myself for self care?

Stress, anxiety, and depression can all creep in on new mothers (or even seasoned mothers) when you’re inside all day. If you’re breastfeeding, you are a round the clock meal maker, and it can be lonely and exhausting. If you’re a SAHM, you likely don’t have much adult conversation during your day. If you’re a working mom, you’re probably juggling so many balls, you can’t see straight. So how do you schedule any time for self care?

This is why I’m giving you self care ideas you can do in under 30 minutes. You can do it while you’re kiddos are napping or on your lunch break, if you’re a working momma. Some things you can even do with your kiddos, although I do recommend getting time away that is just for you.

If you need more than 30 minutes, enlist the help of your village. Get your husband on board. Have him watch the kids while you get a haircut. Or have him take the kids to the park, so you can have the house to yourself. Get a family member (grandparents, aunts, or uncles) to watch your kiddos while you get away with your husband. Make mom friends and do child swaps, so you each get a day to yourself.

How much should you spend on self care?

You can spend as little or as much as you want on self care. Just make sure it’s in the family budget before you book any elaborate trips or spa packages. Some of the best self care ideas require no money at all and are easily accessible to everyone.

What are some things to do for self care?

Let me start by saying self care is not cleaning the bathroom, folding clothes, or grocery shopping. Those are chores. And even though I feel great when the bathroom is clean again or the dishes are put away, that’s not something done for my personal mental health and well-being.

Self Care Ideas: Relax

woman sitting in yoga pose in bedroom
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Before we get into all the self care ideas that actually involve movement and some level of energy, let’s just relax first.

Read a chapter of a book. Reading is a way of visiting another world without ever leaving your house. It gives you a chance to calm your mind and use your imagination. You can become the heroine of the story (or the villain). It’s just a nice little escape every now and then. If you’re not big into reading, find a subject you’re interested in or would like to learn about (gardening, quilting, travel) or try a self help book or a book of poetry. For any avid readers out there, set yourself a 30 minute timer, so you don’t get sucked in and try to finish the book.

Read a magazine. Maybe you’re not a book lover, but you can make it through a whole magazine in 30 minutes. Whether it’s travel, photography, home and garden, or Hollywood news, flip through your favorite magazine (even if it’s just to look at the pictures).

Watch a favorite TV show. Choose something uplifting that will put a smile on your face. I usually watch old episodes of Friends, The Office, Big Bang Theory or Everybody Loves Raymond. Pick something that you’ve seen and you enjoy, so you don’t have to concentrate too much on what’s going on.

Meditate. I’ll be honest: I don’t know anything about meditation, other than making that “om” sound. But there’s an app for that! Try Serenity: Guided Meditation and Mindfulness (I’ve used this one while pumping at work) or Headspace: Meditation & Sleep. These apps offer guided meditation sessions to learn the skills to ease anxiety and stress.

Listen to music from your younger days. I’m not ashamed to admit it: I was a huge ‘NSYNC fan back in the day. So anytime I listen to music from that time, I am immediately transported to an easier, less stressful time in life. A time when you had no responsibilities and it was someone else’s job to worry about the future. Even if it’s only for 30 minutes out of your day, it’s a great way to unwind.

Listen to a podcast. I rarely listen to podcasts, so I’m no expert on this subject. But find one that’s uplifting or talks about a subject you’re interested in. The podcasts I have listened to were all book related. So find one about a hobby that you enjoyed before becoming a mom.

Change your sheets and lie down. There’s nothing like a clean set of sheets. Remake your bed and lie down (napping is optional).

Self Care Ideas: Get Active

woman practicing yoga in front of windows
Photo by Alexy Almond from Pexels

Now that we’ve spent some time relaxing and unwinding, it’s time to get moving.

Get outside. Sit on your porch. Go to the park. Find a tree you can relax under. Just enjoy nature. Take it all in: feel the sun on your skin and the wind in hair; listen to the birds singing or water flowing; watch the leaves blowing on the trees or your kids playing in the yard; smell that fresh cut grass or the dirt after a light rain; don’t lick anything!

Talk a walk. Since you’re already outside, go for a walk. Get your body moving and enjoy the nice weather. Take your kids and let them tell you about their day, or go solo and push that to-do list from your mind.

Garden. Ok this might sound like a chore, but not if it’s something you enjoy. There’s something about getting down in the dirt and creating a beautiful piece of your world that can be really uplifting. Or you can grow veggies and plan to eat healthier. If you don’t have access to your own plot of land, consider kid-friendly indoor plants. (Personally, I am only able to keep cactus alive.)

Do yoga. Yoga is a great way to bring your body and mind together. Focusing on your breathing and the poses blocks out everything else. I always feel better after any kind of workout. If you want to take your yoga game to the next level, try Jillian Michaels: Yoga Meltdown. It offers two routines; one for people new to yoga and another for the more experienced. It incorporates yoga poses into a muscle strengthening workout to really get your blood pumping.

Dance it out. Don’t want to buy any extra equipment to get moving, no problem. Make a playlist and spend 30 minutes dancing around your kitchen. Use that music from your younger days or any bouncy music you currently like. You can even get your kiddos involved and have one big dance party.

self care ideas: woman in bathtub with flowers

Self Care Ideas: Grab a Pen and Paper

woman writing in journal
Photo by Negative Space from Pexels

With electronics taking up so much of our time these days, sometimes it’s just nice to go a little old school and write it down manually.

Journal. Overwhelmed with motherhood, work, or life in general? Journaling is a great way to get all those feeling out and process them. When you’re constantly thinking about negative things or just everything going on, there’s no room to relax. When I journal, it’s like having a conversation with a friend. You’re able to get it out and hopefully let it go.

Make a bucket list. If you’re in the middle of motherhood, you probably don’t have much time to do anything or go anywhere. So make a list of all things you want to do. It could be a list of things to do in the near future – go to the spa, spend a weekend away with your husband. It could be a list of things to do once your kids are out of the house – travel to Europe. Or it could be a list of things you want to do with your kids as they grow – go horseback riding, take a cross country trip, visit Disney World.

Related: 30 Fun Fall Bucket List Ideas

Create a list of goals. Whether it’s a list of goals to be completed by the end of the week, a 5 year plan, or a list of goals for the rest of your life, the best way to makes your dreams a reality is to write them down. Then you are able to visualize them and work towards them.

Write a list of 10 things you’re grateful for. It can be as big or small as you want. Maybe you’re grateful for your family or specifically your great aunt Sarah. The more often you do this and the more specific you get, the easier it becomes to appreciate the world around you and improve your outlook on life.

Write it all out. A total brain dump is the best way to clear your mind. You’ve journaled your feelings, you’ve made your bucket list, you’re written your goals and the things you’re grateful for, so now you just need to write out whatever is left. Keeping track of doctor appointments, dance recitals, baseball practice, due dates at work, and playdates all in your head is eventually going to cause mental fatigue and things will be missed or forgotten. First, get a piece of paper and get everything written, then decide the best way to track everything: either a planner or dry erase wall calendar.

Plan a trip. Maybe it’s that weekend trip with your husband or that cross-country trip with your kids or that European trip during retirement. Wherever it is, plan it out. Research hotels and attractions. Even the act of planning a trip can be just as exciting as taking it. And if you have it all planned out, you’re more likely to start saving for it.

Related: 5 Steps to Create an Easy Vacation Budget

Self Care Ideas: Pamper Yourself

woman in tub using jade roller on her face
Photo by Monstera from Pexels

When it’s not just mental fatigue but your body starts feeling run down, it’s time for some pampering.

Get a massage at home. If you’re currently pregnant, if you’ve got a new little one you’re hauling around, if you’re super active and your muscles are just sore, it’s time for a massage. While 30 minutes is not enough time to get a proper massage from your favorite massage therapist, it is the perfect amount of time to get a massage at home using this massage pillow. Pair it with this shoulder and neck massager, and you can have a full back and neck massage in under 30 minutes.

Moisturize hands and feet. Chapped hands are by-product of all those diaper changes. And if it’s flip-flop season, you can bet your feet need some love too. Repair the damage with this hand and foot cream set.

Take a long shower. I’m not a fan of baths; something about sitting in your own dirty water just doesn’t appeal to me. So, I’m suggesting you take a long shower; just let that water beat down on your back and shoulders as long as you need. Spruce it up with some scented candles or shower steamers to let the stress melt away. Scent is the strongest thing tied to memory, so if you use the same scent each time, and then use that scent later when you’re stressed, it will take you back that feeling of relaxation.

Get a manicure or pedicure. This one might leave you a little stretched for that 30 minute time limit, but treat your hands or feet with a manicure or pedicure. Most usually come with a hand or foot massage. If you can’t get out for a true manicure or pedicure, paint your nails at home. Sometimes a new color is all you need to brighten your day.

Self Care Ideas: Enjoy Your Food

woman in white shirt and jeans sitting in chair by windows sipping tea
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

How many meals have you rushed through lately or eaten cold? It’s your time to sit down and really taste the food your eating. With no guilt about what you’re eating.

Drink plenty of water. Ok you really should be doing this throughout your day, but I know I’ve had days where I can’t remember taking more than a sip of water the entire day. So spend 30 minutes making sure you meet your hydration needs. If you’re not a fan of water, try infusing it with some fruit.

Enjoy a warm beverage. There’s nothing like a hot beverage on a cold day. Or just enjoying your daily cup of coffee uninterrupted. Take your 30 minutes to enjoy that drink while it’s still hot. Not a coffee drinker? Try tea, warm milk, or cappuccino.

Bake something. I love to bake, and I love the smell of things baking. Whether it’s your grandma’s famous cookies from scratch or a Betty Crocker special, spend your time making something you can enjoy for the next couple of days. If you want to get your kids involved, put them in charge of decorating.

Indulge in your favorite ice cream or other dessert. So whether it’s that item you just baked or your most favorite cream, sit down and really enjoy, without worrying about the calories. A treat every now and then is sometimes just what your body needs.

Self Care Ideas: Use Your Creative Mind

woman drawing in notepad
Photo by Alena Koval from Pexels

Let those creative juices flow, and make something beautiful.

Color or draw. Adult coloring books are huge right now. The biggest bonus of coloring when you’re an adult: there’s no one to tell you to stay in the lines. If you’re even more artistic, draw or paint something. There’s a feeling of accomplishment knowing you’ve created a masterpiece.

Be crafty. Are you a knitter? Maybe a scrap booker? Are you mastering your new Cricut? Or maybe you’re sticking with macaroni art? Whatever your craft level, find a project that gives you joy. Maybe make something for your home. This is another great one to get your kids involved.

Self Care Ideas: Be Social (or Not)

woman sitting by windows holding a phone
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

People are social by nature, so it’s always good to have adult conversations. Other times, you’re own company is all you need.

Call a friend. Sometimes we just need someone to talk to. Another mother who is going through the same struggles as us. Or one of our single friends we can reminisce about old times with. Whoever she is, wherever she is, give her a call.

Take a drive. Sometimes it great to just be by yourself. Go for a drive and just see where the road takes you. You could also bring that playlist from your past.


While it may not always be easy to find time for yourself, and you may not always be able to do it guilt-free, it is still very important. I recommend not jamming too many of these self care ideas in one sitting, as the point is to relax and be present in the moment. And put the electronics away. If you’re relaxing by watching a TV show, don’t be scrolling through your news feed or scheduling doctor’s appointments. Take some time for you and just breathe.

Got a favorite self care idea you can do in under 30 minutes? Let us know in the comments.

self care ideas: woman's hands holding a cup of tea

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