TLDR: If you just googled something like “how to prioritize myself as a busy mom,” you are in good company! It’s tricky to take time for yourself when everyone else always seems to need something. There’s an important mindset shift that needs to be addressed to help you really prioritize yourself while also caring for your family. But caring for yourself matters because when you don’t prioritize yourself, your relationships suffer. (And that’s not just a cliché—there’s research to back this up.) Let’s make that mindset shift and talk about ways to take care of all the important things that you’ve got on your plate, yourself included.

If you just googled something like “how to prioritize myself as a busy mom” (or some variation on that phrase), you’re in good company. It’s not easy to take care of yourself while also taking care of little people, especially if you don’t feel like you have any free time in your busy schedule.

Maybe you’ve got babies and toddlers waking you up at night, dumping piles of toys or food all over the place, constantly needing to be fed and changed, and skipping naptime…and you’re exhausted.

Maybe you’ve got tweens and teens always wanting a ride somewhere, needing you to sign them up for something, wanting to stay out late (and you’re waiting up), dealing with big problems, and rolling their eyes at you…and you’re exhausted.

Finding Time for Yourself As a MomAnd I know you’ve got laundry to do, homework to help with, grocery shopping to get done, dinner to make, snuggles to give, comfort to offer, activities to facilitate, and all the little things like cutting tiny fingernails. And we haven’t even mentioned the mental load that comes with motherhood.

It’s a lot!

If you’re like me, sometimes you are completely overwhelmed by it all…but at the same time, you’d never give it up. You love these people and you WANT to care for them.

But you also wonder, “How can I prioritize myself too?! How can I make sure that my own needs are taken care of when I feel like I barely have a minute to myself and have a never-ending to-do list?!” (Heck, sometimes even thinking about that feels like just one more thing to worry about.)

Caring for your people AND having time for yourself can feel like an impossible task sometimes and might make you want to shrug your shoulders and say “it can’t be done.”

But I want you to know that it really matters. The fact that you are here reading this blog post is important because how you feel has a huge impact on your family’s life.

Why Your Needs Have to Matter

Here’s the truth that I want to say to you (and why I am glad you are here): if you don’t prioritize yourself too, you are going to get to a breaking point that isn’t good for you or your family.

And even before you get to that breaking point, you’re going to rack up a whole lot of resentment and overwhelm which will not only hurt your mental health, it will drive a wedge between you and the very people you are trying to care for.

Not to mention that you’re skipping out on opportunities to model for your kids just how important self-care really is.

I’m betting you know some of that, at least in theory, and that’s why you’re here, reading this article. (I’m glad you are.) Because it’s easy to know, harder to execute.

So, let’s talk about why prioritizing yourself even in motherhood matters and how you can do it.

Challenging The Mindset Behind Self-Sacrifice

Let’s start by talking about why prioritizing yourself can be difficult and let’s use a bad example to show you where this is coming from:

When my kids were little I LOVED to read stories with them—one of my favorite ways to get quality time with them. We’d snuggle up on my bed and read picture books.

And when they got older, I’d lay on the floor of their room and read chapter books to them while they listened in.

But let me tell you one book that we didn’t read…The Giving Tree

Tips for Prioritizing Yourself as a MomAre you familiar with that one?

For those of you who aren’t, it’s the story of a tree and “her boy.” The tree loves the boy and he “loves” her.

He climbs on her when he’s a child. He talks with her. He carves initials on her when he’s in love.

But as he gets older, he comes around less often.

And when he does, he asks for things.

When he asks, she gives him her fruit until it’s gone. When he asks, she gives him her leaves. She gives him her trunk. She gives and she gives and she gives every single part of herself.

But he’s never really happy and he never really returns any love to her.

And Here’s the Big Problem:

In the end, she’s a stump. And he’s sadly sitting on her. And neither of them are really very happy. (Though the last line of the book says that she is.)

Moms Matter Too

Somehow this book is passed off as a beautiful tale of motherly love.

But to me, this book is a HUGE example of self-silencing and perpetuates a harmful message to society (women especially)—that they are valued only for what they do for others or what they give.

(Sidenote: I recently posted a reel on IG about this and some people commented that they felt like this book was satirical and was poking holes in our conception that motherhood is about giving yourself up entirely and how utterly wrong that is. I’m not sure whether it was written seriously or satirically, but either way, there’s an important point…)

What You’ve Got to Recognize

If you are caring for the people in your life because you think you have to (because that’s just what good moms do) or because that’s how you convince yourself that you are worthy of love and appreciation, it will always be difficult to take time for yourself.

I think if you take a good look at yourself and the messages you’ve internalized about motherhood, you’ll likely see that society is emphasizing that we as mothers need to take care of others endlessly to be worthwhile. (Or to be happy.)

How to Prioritize Myself as a Busy MomNow, please please don’t get me wrong. Sacrifice is an essential and even beautiful part of motherhood. I love to care for my kids in meaningful ways—spending time talking together, helping them with schoolwork, or cheering them on as they develop their talents.

I love making cookies with them, helping them register for their first college classes, and helping them make big decisions in their life.

But there are also times when I notice that they seem to see me as merely a pathway to their own happiness, something to facilitate their needs, not as a human who has feelings and desires of her own.

They are willing to take as long as I give. (Just like the boy and the tree.)

They take advantage of me sometimes (as kids do) and if I’m in the mindset that I HAVE to serve them all day every day to be a good mom, it’s a losing situation for all of us.

Don’t Be Deceived

And let me be clear—I am doing them no favors if I, like the tree, give myself up entirely so that I am merely a stump of who I once was. It’s not helpful if I think that my only worth comes from taking care of others. Not helpful to me or them.

On the contrary, if they see me taking time to develop my own talents, prioritizing my own physical and mental health and well-being, and doing things that bring me joy and fulfillment, not only will I show up as a happier and better mom, but they will learn crucial lessons about how to treat people. And how to treat themselves when they are in a caregiving role.

In other words, the first step you need to take if you’re serious about this whole “how to prioritize myself as a busy mom,” is to shift your mindset about your role as a mom. Sometimes we set really high expectations for ourselves about what we are “supposed to do” as moms that aren’t realistic, sustainable, or even all that helpful.

You need to believe that taking care of yourself matters too.

(Grab my free audio mini-course that talks about the science behind why this matters and how to implement it.)

How to Prioritize Your Needs

Once you’ve determined that it matters to take time for yourself, how do you actually make that happen? It can be hard to even eke out any time for yourself when there’s a long list of things to do at any given time.

And have you ever had that moment when you get time to yourself and you can’t decide what to do? Partly because you have such a long list of possible things you could do that you don’t know where to start and maybe also because you’ve sort of forgotten what your hobbies and interests even are?

You’re normal. But if you can get into the habit of finding time for yourself too, it will get easier.

What to Prioritize

One of the best ways to start when taking time to prioritize yourself can be with the most important thing—your mental health and physical health.

It can be easy to slip into thinking that self-care is merely turning on Netflix at night and grabbing your favorite drink (hot chocolate for me). And these things can be a nice break and can help. But if you want to replenish that empty cup, you’ve got to take time for the really important things as well.

Mental and Physical Health

I’m talking about things like taking care of your body and getting enough sleep. These things can be easy to let slide, but the way your body and mind feel has a HUGE impact on how you show up as a mom! And when you see to these, it’s easier to see to the laundry and groceries…freeing up more time and brain space for hobbies too.

(For example, I’ve noticed that I’m much more inclined to snip at my kids and feel edgy if I am tired. And all I want to do is avoid the tasks that need to get done instead of just knocking them out.)

Even when the kids trying to fight you on the amount of sleep you get, do your best to prioritize that. Don’t stay up till 2 am scrolling social media, even if that’s the only alone time that you feel like you get. You’re NOT going to feel better the next day when you’ve only gotten 5 hours of sleep.

Taking time for yourself as a momDon’t skip the workouts just because it’s hard when you’ve got little ones underfoot. Head to the gym and use childcare if you need to or find a great at-home workout routine that you can squeeze in—even if it’s while the kids are eating lunch. (Walks or bike rides are also a great idea with kids.)

Snacking on whatever is in front of you is easy. Eating cookies after dinner every night sounds wonderful. But remember that your body needs real nourishment too. Prioritize your meals like you do your kids.’

All of those things impact not only your physical health but your mental health too.

It can also be helpful to remember that things that relax you can go a long way (in even just a few minutes). Take time for deep breathing or meditation, slow down and read a good book, seek professional help like therapy as needed, or find other self-care activities that help you to relax and destress.

Pursing Things You Love

I love what research and science can often teach us about family life. And here’s a favorite finding of mine:

Trying new things, having a creative outlet for things you love, and taking time for your hobbies are super good for you AND your relationships!

Want an easy way to improve your marriage? Try a new hobby (with or without your partner).

Just the very act of doing something unique or something you love brings excitement to you, which means you’re you’re happier (which always makes relationships easier).

And, it gives you fun things to talk about when you get together with your spouse at the end of the day which increases connection. (It’s also good in the bedroom because it allows your partner to see you through new and exciting eyes when you are developing your own hobbies and feeling excited about those things. That can breed desire for both of you.)

So make time for exploring personal interests and trying new things. This can be as simple as testing out a new dinner recipe (easy to fit in since you’ve got to cook dinner anyway, right?) or taking a new yoga class. Or my personal favorite, reading a good book (throw in a bubble bath if that’s your style). Whatever it is that brings you simple joy and fulfillment.

Time for myself as a mom

Enlisting Family Members

Also, remember the mindset shift that we talked about? Don’t forget that you are not solely responsible for everyone else’s happiness or for taking care of them endlessly. That’s not what makes you a good mom. You are a good mom because you love your family.

Part of loving your kids is helping them learn to be contributing members of society. That means that they need to learn to help out with things like household chores. It’s not a bad thing at all for your 10-year-old to learn to do laundry or your preschooler to put away silverware (ok—it’s a great thing)!

It’s ok to ask your spouse to share more of the burden of household tasks if a rebalancing of that is needed. And because you’ve shifted your mindset about where your worth comes from or what you “have to” do, you can lose the guilt on this too.

With the much-needed support of all members of the family, you will have enough time to take breaks for yourself to do the things you love.

Remember, prioritizing yourself along with everyone else makes the whole family system better.

Take a Break

Back in the early years of my motherhood, my husband worked 60 hours a week (in a Ph.D. program) and I didn’t get a lot of time to myself. Luckily, my two oldest were professional nappers—a delightful quality. Nap time was still a regular occurrence right up until they went to kindergarten. (So wonderful!) This gave me a nice break and a chance to do things that I wanted to do while they slept.

My younger two were not as big of nappers, so we always had quiet time. They’d be in their rooms for an hour or two reading or playing quietly (ideally anyway) so that I could get some time to myself.

I’ll admit that there were times that I felt guilty about enforcing quiet time like this. But I also knew that it was a great chance for us to have some time apart and to up our energy levels for the rest of the day. They needed it and I needed it.

So if you’ve got little ones at home, don’t be afraid to not only use naptime and quiet time as a reprieve but to do things you love during that time. It doesn’t always have to be productive.

Remember What Matters

I can’t emphasize enough that your well-being matters and you’re doing your family a service when you acknowledge that and take care of yourself. Making yourself a priority should never be something you feel guilty about and if you do, that mindset shift needs to happen. It’s one of the best things you can do for yourself and your relationships. (I know from my own experience and from research.)

This whole website is filled with resources to help you reclaim who you are in the midst of motherhood so that you can have amazing relationships with the people you love.

These things matter. You matter.

I hope you will check out my membership program where we dig deep into these things and work together to implement them in our lives. Or grab my free audio mini-course (below) to learn more about the exact things we’ve been talking about.

Hello Friend! I’m Dr. Amber A. Price

I’m here to help you thrive in your relationships with yourself and your family

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