Self-care for Working Moms: The Ultimate Guide for 2021 (Plus 3 Secrets for creating more time!)

Aug 11, 2020 | Mom entrepreneur, Self-Care


I began this Ultimate Guide for self-care focused on working moms in the beginning of March 2020. Since its inception, our country and world have been turned upside down.

Covid-19 has dominated our lives, sent us home, and detached us from our own versions of normalcy.

I recoiled and held back. I wondered if this content was well timed or ill timed. I doubted my capacity to provide some good advice to working moms as I navigated my own experience as a working mom.

Initially, in quarantine, I faltered working from home and facilitating distance schooling. The divide for working moms became greater than it has ever been.

I struggled to engage in self-care. I screamed, I cried, I wrote, I learned, and I despaired realizing how much good had been in place prior to my working mom life 24/7.

Today, I am ready to get this information out there. There are working moms struggling everywhere. I’ve collected advice to help you:

  • Reestablish a feeling a calm and control
  • Give to yourself first through radical self-care
  • Begin to create routines which will work for you, your family, and your work


Please reach out to your working mom friends. Share this blog and tell me where I got it right…or wrong. Although our ships may be different, we are all in this storm facing it together. I respect you, mama. 

Why is Self-care Important for Working Moms?

My working mom friends are some the highest achieving and self-less people I know. Unfortunately, self-LESS can lead to issues with our health and wellbeing, if we’re not careful. I speak this truth as a working mom and an entrepreneur. I have experienced significant lows – no energy, regretting commitments, and resenting other women who seem to all have it all together.

Listen hard, my dears! We are on an incredible journey raising the future of our planet. If we do not get our act together and begin to operate from abundance, we are not doing them justice. We aren’t doing anyone justice. So, starting right here, right now, raise your right hand and repeat after me….

“I, (state your name), a badass working mom, do solemnly swear to commit to radical self-care in all of its amazing forms. I promise to put myself first every day and, when I am struggling, to ask others for help. So, help me god(essess).”

 Did you join me in pledging to radical self-care? Thank you. You didn’t…go back, say the pledge. We’ll wait for you right here.

The Journey

My friends, I am a real mom-trepreneur who has the privilege of raising an amazing six-year-old boy. I am blessed with work I love both as a pediatric occupational therapist and wellness coach. I have a husband who is my partner.

What else do I have? Years of experience as a perfectionist and mental messaging in my head about not being good enough. Raise a hand if you can relate to that baggage?

Perfectionism is no joke. It’s the dark cloud following you through life’s greatest moments. It’s the doubt showing up and making it impossible for you to see your amazing qualities. Perfectionism lead me down the road of codependency and through a bad marriage in my 20s.

Fear not! I have banned perfectionism and her buddy self-doubt from my life. I’ve succeeded through many approaches, some good ole talk therapy, and my commitment to feeling my best. (See oath above.) My greatest strategy is employing a growth mindset. 

Your journey may look similar or vastly different. Mama, you have the power to transform your own life. On your own journey, please have all the following tools – free. My journey has transitioned to one about reaching out, reaching back, reaching down, and lending a hand, and my heart, to other women walking this path.


Self-care is not one size fits all. I respect you, mama. Feel free to alter, add to, and reach out to me if I have missed any gems!

Understand the Impact of No Self-care

Is this subheading necessary? I will assume if you have read this far, you are a working mom in dire need of some radical self-care. Operating as a working mom by pushing oneself to do all the things perfectly for everyone all the time is a recipe for disaster.

We’ve all seen those perfect images on social media or Pinterest. Who knows how many takes to get the perfect photo? Quite often, behind the scenes things don’t appear as glamorous. Or they are because that mama has hired help. We’ll tackle getting you some extra help further along.

Every Little Bit Matters

As you scroll further on down this article, there are dozens of suggestions. It will not be realistic for you to start doing all of them at once. I don’t encourage overwhelming yourself. Instead, pick one small change. Then add another. As you add to your self-care practices, tune into how they improve your mood, your health, and feeling as though you have all your ducks in a row!

May I ask one small favor? Commit to keeping up with the changes you introduce into your routine. Don’t half-ass your self-care. Go all in!

Reward yourself for adding to your own wellbeing. Best advice? Choose progress over perfection. Take those baby steps and celebrate each one – just as you celebrated the miraculous first steps of your little one.

How Do Working Moms Take Care of Themselves?


Listen to Your Body

Take a deep breath. Now another. Tune into the goodness of breathing. Then tune into your body.

What are you feeling? Hungry? Need to pee? Running a grocery list through your head? What else? Where are you feeling tension or discomfort?

Were you aware of those sensations before this exercise? Or have you trained yourself to ignore them until they will no longer be ignored? Let’s be honest, most of us working moms are so busy caring for other people’s needs, we tend to ignore our own.

Stop right now! Begin by listening to what your body needs and treat it like the important vessel it is!

Your body carries you through your days. It holds your heart, your brain and nervous system, and all the other important organs keeping you alive. Let’s give her the care she deserves!

Make Sleep a Priority

Ladies, if I may, please begin with your sleep routine. If you are already rocking 7-9 hours every night, awesome! If you have been using sleep hours to accomplish other tasks, let’s get you in a better place.

Sleep is an essential function for survival. Read that again. It is vital, not a suggestion. Adults should get between 7-9 hours, but sometimes we need more. Getting enough sleep is important, but the quality of your sleep is critical too.

Be sure to keep your bedroom calm and free of clutter. Turning down lights and beginning calming activities two hours before bed can help your body gradually prepare for sleep. I also recommend those hours be screen-free, particularly if you struggle with falling asleep.

In March 2021, The Ultimate Guide to Self-Healing Volume 4 will be released and I have written a chapter on sleep. I’ve included a step by step guide for how to create a sacred sleep environment and cultivate habits to improve your quality of sleep and get the best sleep of your life! Pre-order a signed copy from me here!

For more background on sleep, please check out my blog about brainwaves and falling asleep here.

Don’t Forget About Rest 

Sleep is essential but slowing down and taking breaks can be as restorative for your body. Rest seems to be taboo.

We equate it with laziness and lack of productivity, but it benefits our productivity.

I come from a long line of productive nappers. Sometimes all you need is a quick break to reenergize.


Feed Your Body Well and Hydrate

We cannot survive on the remnants of the meal we served our children. Mamas eat well. We all have different dietary restrictions and preferences but let there be lots of fresh vegetable and fruits! Get enough protein and fiber – yup, I said the “F” word – and choose more complex over simple carbohydrates.

Sadly, I am a recovering addict to all forms of sugar. (Who else salivates over the mere thought of warm chocolate chip cookies??)  If I want to feel great, sugar and I stay apart.

I have learned overindulgence in sugar, alcohol, unhealthy fats, and too much caffeine leaves me with a garbage belly and low energy. Personally, I aim for the 90/10 rule. 90% of what I eat is wholly nourishing and good for me and 10% is coffee. God, I love coffee.

Equally important, drink water. Drink about half your body weight in ounces of water every day. Yes, you will pee, a lot. Friends, urination, and elimination are important. Those processes, as unglamorous as they can be, keep you healthy.

Put Your Healthcare on the Calendar!!

I added the exclamation points because I need the reminder! Little personal secret, I have had a bad pattern of avoiding scheduling my appointments. I am a fantastic juggler of my son’s appointments. Mine, not so much.

I know what you’re thinking. “Kelly, I have to save my PTO to take care of my little ones if they get sick.” Yes, many of us are in the same boat. Some of you reading may not even get PTO.

I am pulling out the soapbox! Working mamas unite with me on this one. Schedule your appointments. Prioritize your health. Do not apologize! You must persist in taking the time for yourself to get to routine appointments.

Get Your Body Moving

I do not always like to move it move it. I will not lie to you. However, my elevated mood after working out – even for 15 minutes – tells me, I needed to move!

Pick a type of movement you love. Do you love to walk? Is yoga your vibe? How about running? We are all adults and this is not gym class. (Sorry for any unpleasant “running the mile” flashbacks.)

You get to choose what exercise works for you. Just pick something and commit to moving your body daily.

Currently, I love hiking! As a family, we immerse ourselves in the woods. It’s been good for both my mental and physical health. 

Create a Simple Beauty Routine


Does this surprise you? I know we’re tackling some deep topics, but skincare and beauty routines have value. I want you to look in the mirror every day and see a woman who cares about herself. I nourish myself with great skincare and a simple beauty routine.

My advice is to keep it simple sister. My routine includes washing my face, moisturizing, throwing on a tinted moisturizer with a little sunblock, and some mascara. If there are a few extra minutes, I may add some blush. Hydration is key to skin health, so water cups up!

I’ve also use a boar bristle brush. Boar bristle brushes help bring the oils on your scalp onto your locks. I only wash my hair once or twice a week. I promise, my hair does not look greasy. There’s always dry shampoo!!

Speaking of hair, when you get regular haircuts, your style is more manageable. Plus, how luxurious and rejuvenating does it feel to have someone wash your hair for you??

Be Honest About Your Energy

At the beginning of this section, we breathed deep and checked in with our bodies. To truly offer the best of yourself daily, you need to be aware of your energy economy. I love that term!

You have a finite amount of energy available to you every day. There are countless ways you intend to spend it – at work and at home. I’m sure you can recall a situation where you were depleted of energy and you pushed harder to your detriment. I can recall many!

When you wake up, check in with yourself. How is your energy, physically and mentally? The beauty of investing in your self-care is improving your energy economy.

You can choose the activities and habits, which will increase your energy economy. Trust me, this is where magic begins and suddenly you become capable of more than you dreamed!

Where’s Your Head At

We cannot complete this section without having our heads examined. Just as we checked in on our bodies, let’s check in on our mental health. There is stigma attached to mental illness and often we have the same resistance to talking openly about our mental health.

As moms, we are often at risk for not operating at our mental best. When we are fatigued, we can fall into a negative headspace. 

Have you ever had a day that felt overwhelming and impossible? Have you ever cried in your car and then wiped your tears before going straight back to work or time with your loved ones? Of course, you have. Here is where we could all offer one another some grace and compassion. Overload and burnout are real issues for working moms. 

Keep track of your triggers. Journal about them or talk to a good friend or your partner. 

Finally, if you reach the end of the proverbial rope, reach out. Therapy is an incredible tool. For me, it was money well spent when I needed professional guidance. 

Finally, working moms, we’ve got to check in on one another. Observe your working mama friends and check in with them regularly. 

In the next section we’ll tackle how to overcome those burnout feelings. It’s all about mindset!

How do working moms recover from burnout?

Breathe a sigh of relief. This is where we begin to highlight ways for you to get your groove back! Strengthening your mindset is the key to unlocking your potential. As you experiment and implement these strategies, keep an open mind. The following are healthy habits and daily rituals to increase your positivity. 


Wise words from one of my favorite coaches, Tiffany Peterson.


Saying thank you is a simple daily habit. Develop an attitude of gratitude. Start by placing a notebook and pen on your nightstand. Each night, before you go to sleep, write down 5 things for which you are grateful. Use details. So instead of, “I am grateful for my husband” write, “I am grateful to my husband for making dinner and cleaning up all the dishes so I could rest on the couch after dinner.” 

The beauty is in the details. As this becomes a regular practice, you will begin to look for the blessings all day. You begin to shift your mindset to focus on your blessings. You will in fact, change the function of the Reticular Activation System in your brain to notice blessings in your life.


I am going to ask you to put yourself into some brief discomfort. Affirmations are most impactful when you speak them out loud while looking into a mirror. Honestly, it’s going to feel awkward at first. 

When I started reciting daily affirmations, I whispered at the mirror. I hoped no one would overhear me. But I became more confident and spoke them as my truth. I noticed in moments where doubt would typically creep in my brain kicked in an affirmation. It was transformative for me! 

Start will some simple “I am” statements such as “I am worthy,” “I am enough”, “I am loveable and loving,” or “I am strong and capable.” 

One of my current favorite affirmations is from the book The Secret. I listened to The Secret over and over in my car during my commute! The affirmation covers all bases, “I am whole, perfect, strong, powerful, loving, harmonious, and happy.”

Spiritual Practice


We all come to a spiritual practice from different backgrounds. Flex into the areas of spiritual practice which resonate with you. Perhaps, you will feel more centered by taking time for silent prayer and reflection each day. 

My favorite practice is meditation. Some sessions are better than others, but I always feel more settled and calm after. There are many forms of meditation. One can simply sit still for a few moments and breathe. Sometimes it’s the perfect reset.

I recommend guided meditation if you have a wandering brain like mine. I love the Calm App. There are a variety of meditation topics and music to improve your focus or help you sleep.

Set Boundaries

Preserving our mindset requires vigilant practice in setting boundaries. Let’s explore some specific ways to put ‘em up!

Say “No” Unless It’s a Hell Yes. Is Suzie’s bake sale where you want to spend your extra energy? Go with your gut. Commit to projects and plans that excite you.

Little tip? If you’re unsure, say “no”. It’s much easier to come back and say, you know what I will volunteer, then it is to renege when someone is counting on you.

MYOB – To compare is to despair. Ignore what other moms are doing. We’ve all got our own ways of functioning! You don’t know what is happening behind the scenes of a modern day “Donna Reed.” Focus on what works for you and your family.

Take Technology and Media Breaks. Tune out of social media and tune into your home, your family, your own dreams. Scrolling social media can become mindLESS. To be mindful, you need breaks. It is also healthy for your family to set boundaries around when it’s not okay to half attend to people. 

Alone time – Stay connected to yourself. Did you ever get an afternoon off all by yourself and after 10 minutes you start to miss your kids? Sometimes 10 minutes is enough for me to feel calm and ready to engage again. 

Remove People Pleasing Guilt. I could write a whole book or volume of books on this topic! My favorite phrase is “don’t should on yourself.” We count ourselves out when we set the expectations of others ahead of our own. You do you and leave the guilt behind. 

Lower Your Expectations. Lower your expectations for yourself. Hell, lower them for everyone! Expecting perfection sets us up for a life full of dissatisfaction. 

Know Yourself

What makes you tic? What brings you joy? What are your triggers? These are just a few questions to ask yourself. Knowing who you are, your values, your pet peeves, and seeing how they play out – without judgement – can help you have more grace with yourself.

Create a joy list for yourself. Fill a page with all the activities you love to do. They can be simple, free, expensive, or extravagant. Choose activities daily off your list. In moments of frustration, pick up your list and engage in one of the activities. Here’s a link to get a copy of my Joy List pdf.

Take Time to Dream About You 

Do you keep a journal? Journaling is a great way to relieve stress and explore your heart’s desires. There is a life for you beyond your roles as mom, partner, and employee. (Insert all other titles for the ways you serve others.) Who do you want to be? What do you want to do? What do you want to have? Open a blank notebook page and write down those questions. You may be surprised at what comes up!

Sometimes when I am most exhausted, I am tempted to put away my dreams. Yet, envisioning what I would like to be, do, and have shifts my mindset and my energy. It’s time well spent.

Help Someone

I know I asked you to focus on you and now I’m asking you to serve others. Let me explain. In the morning when you wake up, ask yourself, “who can I serve today?” Of course, you will take care of your children, your spouse or partner. I’m referring to service mentality. This does not mean letting people walk over you. I do not suggest saying “yes” to all requests.

Look for opportunities to serve others. You could simply buy your coworker coffee because she had a bad day or give another working mom your best tip to survive. You could also choose to tune into the needs of your children and consciously serve them. 

Are there opportunities to volunteer in your community? Recently, I developed an online poetry fundraiser with a friend. We decided to collect donation for Covenant House to support their efforts in helping youth facing homelessness. What could you do?

How do working moms take time for themselves?

Now we have addressed mindset, we’re going to explore ways to make yourself feel good every day.

This is not an exhaustive list, but it’s a great start and may inspire you to add more to the list!

Morning Routine (Secret #1)

Do you follow successful people? Most of them will encourage their followers to wake up early and have a routine. It should stick. Ever wake up to a little face in your face and realize you overslept? Waking up in scramble mode feels awful. I find it will typically translate into a disorganized and haphazard day.

Getting up early, so you can have time for yourself, is only one part of the equation. The way you begin your day can set the tone for your mindset all day. Beginning the day caring for yourself and tending to your desires feels good. The best morning routines include: 

  1. Some time for meditation, prayer, or contemplation – wake up with the right mindset.
  2. Some movement, whether it’s stretching or a quick walk – the key is for the movement to feel good. 
  3. Finally, connect with what’s important to you. I grab my coffee and head to the computer to write. 

Wear Comfy and Pretty Clothes

We’ve all looked in the mirror at 3 pm and discovered a hot mess looking back at us. You don’t need to aim to look like an influencer, but feeling like you’ve put yourself together adds a little spring to your step. Simply fill your wardrobe with clothes you love. Each day, pick an outfit you feel good wearing. Ask yourself if your clothes “spark joy,” to quote Marie Kondo.

If they don’t, let them go. I save time in the morning getting dressed because I feel good in all my clothes. In the next section we’ll talk about decluttering. Marie Kondo has a lot to offer on this topic, I highly recommend taking yourself through her book. She asks you to start with clothes.

Change Your Environment

Cleaning and Clearing – Let’s Declutter!

Honestly, keeping my home clear of clutter is an ongoing battle for me. However, I have improved my mindset around the act of decluttering. I used to dread areas of my home which collected random items and I had closets full of boxes full of unsorted paper. I have read inspirational books, watched Hoarders to frighten myself, and even listened to hypnosis on tape to motivate myself to tackle the clutter. 


Feeling overwhelmed is intricately linked to my triggered perfectionist who likes to tell me how much I suck at staying organized. I have mastered decluttering using two key strategies.

Set a timer for 10 minutes – The most effective strategy I have employed was setting a timer for 10 minutes and working on one small area. When you give this a try, limit yourself to 10 minutes. Stop when the timer goes off. You are training your brain to see decluttering as fun and easy! I like to play music or diffuse essential oils to enhance my mood. Once an area has the 10-minute treatment, you must keep it decluttered. I have found maintenance is essential. 

Carry to completion – My second strategy is about prevention! Clutter occurs in my home when we do not put things back where they belong, or a task remains incomplete. Here are some frequent incomplete tasks in my home; unopened mail on the kitchen table, dishes in the sink (and the dishwasher is empty), dirty clothes on the floor, etc. Is this familiar? Stay present with your current task. Take a few minutes when you’re done to consciously put items in their final resting place. This simple strategy works, and I recommend you teach it to the littles (and bigs) in your home.

Bring the Outside in With Plants

We don’t have any pets because we have just enough time to take care of humans.

I love plants though and creating environments in my home with plants creates a serene space. 

Create a Relaxation Corner in Your Bedroom

I love the idea of bedrooms being a space for respite from life. As the quarantine began, I asked my husband if I could take a corner of our bedroom and set up my yoga mat and my meditation cushion to have a space to go to.

Prior to quarantine I had that space in my office, but my office became my workspace for my full-time job and the space that we used for distance schooling. 


Treat Yourself

Splurge on Self-care You Can Reuse

I love to invest in my self-care practices with items I use repeatedly. They can be used daily, weekly, or when I need a healthy ritual to reconnect with caring for myself. These are just a few of my favorites, a dry body brush, a great water bottle, the perfect coffee machine, a boar bristle brush for hair, and my yoga and meditation mats.

Plan a Vacation or a Staycation

Sometimes we just need to get away from it all. If you’re reading this during quarantine, you may find yourself stuck at home, without the opportunity to go on a vacation. Some of my favorite vacations over the years have been staycations.

I love finding ways to enjoy my home without the pressures of daily life and schoolwork and work. Sitting outside on my porch with a cup of coffee, some nice music, and nowhere to be feels like a little slice of heaven.  

Read for Leisure

Ever since I was a little girl and learned to read, I have loved to read.

Reading works of fiction provide an opportunity for me to disengage from reality and go someplace completely different. I can spend hours lost in a story and when I come back to reality, I find myself refreshed. 

Raise Your Vibe

Prioritize Joyful Activities

I mentioned this earlier. Create a joy list for yourself. Fill a page with all the activities you love to do.

They can be simple, free, expensive, or extravagant. Choose activities off your list every day. In moments of frustration, pick up your list and engage in one of the activities.

Try Something New

Maybe the mere idea of trying something new feels overwhelming. However, shaking up our routines gives us the chance to explore new possibilities. Sometimes trying something new is this simple as sitting down to paint with my son or learn how to draw Pokémon from a YouTube video. 

Hone Your Skills – Take time to focus on your goals.

What do you do that truly lights you up inside? If you need help deciding, go back to your joy list. Is it baking, writing, drawing, or something else?

Lately, for me, it’s poetry. One of my goals is to create and publish a book of my poems. This goal isn’t tied into my work life or my role as a mom. It’s something just for me. 

Be silly!

Have some fun for fun’s sake. This happens easily in my house with a silly little 6-year-old. Join in the ridiculousness. 

Watch Feel Good Movies or Shows

The current options for watching movies and television are literally endless. I love finding a new feel good show to binge watch when I need a little pick me up. 

Say Yes to Less

Simplify your life and opt for less activities, less busyness, less commitments, for you and your kids.

Downtime, even boredom can be great to build creativity. How can you reduce the amount of commitments in your life?

Just Slow Down

Breathe and be intentional. When the pace of my work life and mom life get too much get to be too much for me to focus and feel in control, I find taking a moment to stop and slow down helps me decide what the biggest priority is in the moment. 

Find Your Own Balance

Taking time for yourself requires you to examine your routines and the structure of your day. Though we all share in the journey as working moms to figure out what works best, our journeys are also individual.

Find the balance that works for you and for your family. 

How do working Moms Manage?