For my fellow Type A people out there — you know and understand the power of a good to-do list. If it’s on the list, it gets done. I usually take that to the next level at the beginning of each year and create a to-do list for the next 12 months. Part resolution, part goal setting. And a big component of that is including a self-care to-do list. Usually we prioritise our kids, our partners, work tasks, friend obligations, grocery shopping, etc. via lists, so why not prioritise ourselves in that way as well?
In the past year of rapid business growth and management, while juggling family life, a toddler and now a pregnancy I’ve had to make a more conscious effort to take care of myself, physically, mentally, and emotionally. And not just the truly “treat yourself” moments type of self-care, but the mundane, everyday types of self care that can fall by the wayside when you’re working a little too hard or the kids have been driving you up the wall. Embarrassing example: Shaving my legs and moisturising them regularly? Yeah, didn’t happen for a while. I’m all for embracing your natural body hair, but this is an example of a small, mundane task that I know helps me feel good and extra pampered, yet I didn’t do it for a while.
Now that 2019 is underway, it’s becoming even more imperative that I bake time into my schedule to prioritise myself before getting swept up in everything and everyone else. A whirlwind of kids parties, and deadlines is the perfect cocktail for burnout and overwhelm, which is why I wanted to share my self-care to-do list strategy for 2019.
Below, I’m sharing how a self-care to-do list practically works within my schedule, and my personal to-do list that’s helping me stay a little more zen this year. Read on for more…
What is a self care to-do list and why do it?
A self care to-do list is something I made up last year when I felt major burnout from all the work hours I was putting into building MUMOKI. I wanted to not just talk the talk but walk the walk of self care. A self care to-do list is literally what it sounds like…a to-do list of self care tasks. The tasks will look different for each person, including you. It really depends on what makes you feel good, better, and recharged.
For instance, while you might think of “self care tasks” as things like “take a bath” or “try this sheet mask” (which are totally valid self-care tasks!) my self care to-do list included items like, “take my pants to the tailor” and “make dentist appointment” and “schedule nail appointment.” — seemingly boring tasks that made me feel juuuuust a bit better about having my life in order and taking care of myself. Some were tasks that were taking up a ton of negative brain space because they kept creeping back up and I would think, “Oh no, I still need to get this task done.” Enter extreme guilt. Framing these chores as a “self care task” was valid because having them finally ticked off felt like a huge weight off my shoulders.
By having this separate self care to-do list, you now have a go-to place where you can immediately start on “tasks” to feel better instantly. No more spending even more mental energy to figure out what to do today for self-care. Open your list, tick some stuff off, feel great.
By having this separate self-care to-do list, you now have a go-to place where you can immediately start on “tasks” to feel better instantly.
Here’s my personal self care to-do list for 2019…
Now that I’ve shared what a self care to do list is, why you should consider creating one, and how to get started, here are my actual to-do’s for practicing self care for 2019:
1. Practice gratitude before bed each night.
Yes that can sound super woo-woo but I listened to this very interesting Tim Ferris podcast recently with AJ Jacobs and it has completely changed my way of thinking.
There are so many people and things who make every day very special. From my morning cup of coffee that my husband makes me each morning, to getting a seat on the bus, to my son packing away his toys. When I go to bed at night, I start at the letter A and work my way through the alphabet and think of one thing that has been special from the day for each letter. I’m usually sound asleep by the time I get to about I or J but it’s a great way to reflect on your day, switch off and calm down your brain and feel happier.
2. Be present and savour every chance I have to unplug!
I’ve found that being on my phone before bed (especially Instagram or email) — gives me major anxiety and insomnia. So instead, I journal about my day in a stream-of-consciousness way, and it’s been a great way to relax. Aside from journaling, reading a book before bed has been another great relaxer sans-screen.
3. Gather with the people I care about…
…and host them for a night in. My husband and I love to cook at entertain so we do dinners and lunches at our house A LOT. It’s a great way to show love to the people you care about and double bonus is that if your friends have kids, they can all entertain each other while you have a grown up conversation. One brilliant idea is a games night. We went to one at a friends house last week and I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much. We ordered Pizza, cracked a bottle of wine (ok maybe a few bottles) and yes it was a little chaotic with 6 adults and 5 kids but was definitely worth it.
4. Gift myself an experience or skill vs. a thing.
The kind of thing that falls into this category are booking in a quarterly facial for myself — a real treat for my dry, dull and over caffeinated skin. I’m also including in this category date nights. I have booked in one negotiable date night for my husband and I every 2 months from now until December. It seems like a lot but really that’s only 6 times a year which is nothing! The key being there will be a babysitter booked (much easier to do now that we have Mynder in our lives), AND it’s only for the two of us. Multi-tasking catch up dinners with friends is not allowed.
And here are 5 tips to get started with your self care to-do list
1. Pick your favourite to-do tool or app. This step is important. Make sure it’s something you actually currently use to keep track of your daily tasks. If you don’t have a to-do system in place—what kind of monster are you?! I’m kidding. I use Google Keep for my personal to-do list, or I’ll jot things down in my favourite notebook.
2. Write down some treats: Is there a new serum or scrub you’re dying to try out, but you’re saving up this month and don’t want to spend the cash? Drop that baby in the to-do list. Treat yourself later. The beauty is that Future You will know exactly HOW to treat yourself and adding a product to your cart has now become expedited, and you can skip the whole “what new serum should I try” Internet rabbit hole. Trust me on this one. I used to work in Beauty and those holes run deep.
3. Write down chores and household tasks: You know that nagging feeling you get when you have that one household chore that needs to get done and when it does your life would feel SO much better, but you just never seem to have time to actually get it done? I’m talking postponed visits to the shoe cobbler, tailor, a deep-clean of your bathtub. Yeah, write those tasks into your self-care to-do list, because getting these off your plate should count as self-care, no matter how mundane, when you consider the relieved feeling you’ll have once they’re done. (Note: Interestingly, most of my self-care to-do tasks fall into this category.)
4. Dream up relaxing experiences: Is there an experience that you’re excited about but, likewise, not ready to shell out the money for? It’s important more than ever to rest your tired eyes and try an activity that will have you way from the screen. For me, that looks like tasks like “book a facial” and “have dinner at Tetsuya’s.” Buying things is fun, but so is spending your time experiencing a new thing, especially if it’s with friends!
5. Relationships: Is there a person or friend that you really want to hang with that you haven’t in a long time? The next time you’re feeling down or lonely-ish (coz let’s be honest, that is frequent in Mum Life), open up your handy self-care to-do list, see your friend’s name and text them for a hang sesh and grab a coffee. Bonus points if it’s to share an experience that you wrote down on number 4.
Repeat after me: Self care is not selfish.
Life is constantly happening all around us, whether we are ready for it or not. Good and bad things don’t always happen when we plan for them to, and sometimes it can be easy to slip into reaction mode especially when you have kids. You are the greatest authority on you, and it’s important to know yourself and anticipate what you need to get through this thing we all call life. And if there is anything I have learnt over the years it’s that you cannot care for your little ones if you can’t care for yourself.
Give yourself permission to not be okay.
You are strong and powerful and a total boss when it comes to raising humans, but that does not mean you are a robot. We all have feelings and needs that need to be honoured. It is okay to not be okay, it is okay to need to take a break, it is okay to be less than perfect. In the age of social media living, too many people are competing and comparing instead of turning inward. When life comes at you fast, give yourself permission to stop and catch your breath. Not only is it okay to not be okay, but it’s also okay to be kind to yourself! You are likely more okay than you think you are, and whatever you are is beautiful. Love yourself every day and as often as possible. You are enough.
Still need more guidance? Here are 18 free moments of Self Care you can implement right now.
1. Take a walk. Really, it can be as simple as this. It’s up to you whether you flip on a podcast, an audio book, some favourite tunes, or if you challenge yourself to not engage with your phone at all.
2. Take a shower or bath by candlelight. Want automatic spa vibes? (Even if your kid is hollering in the other room?) It’s amazing how transformative a change in light can be when added to this everyday (or every other day) activity.
3. Turn off your phone. Or at least hide it in another room for a set period of time. Phone addiction is real and it’s something most of us suffer from. Unplugging intentionally and often is necessary self-care in 2019 and beyond. Watch this TED Talk by Sherry Turkle for further proof.
4. Read. Reading more remains one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions. Especially with the 24/7 news cycle (which is primarily upsetting and head-spinning), reading for pleasure is a great way to recharge and reconnect with that little voice in your head. All you need to do is make a date with yourself to pick up that book or magazine you never finished and get to it. We personally love taking a print edition to a local cafe, but an at-home session curled up with a Kindle will also do.
5. Set a daily intention. Listen to this great Goop podcast with Gwyneth Paltrow and Oprah for more on the power of intention. Asking yourself what your intention is for the day or before you engage in an activity can be a powerful practice.
6. Socialise. Sometime’s I become a bit like a broken record but it really can’t be stressed enough – IRL human interaction is a must for happiness. And any woman can tell you that a quality chat with a great friend is soul-soothing in too many ways to count. To make sure you’re spending modestly while socialising, make a date to meet-up with your friends at one of your homes, make a pot of tea, try to place your phone out of arm’s reach, and let the hang time/play date begin.
7. Stretch. If you don’t have an regular exercise routine going, stretching is a good way to start. There are plenty of online stretching routines on YouTube, many include options you can do right in your bed! Or check out these great postpartum pilates moves you can do in your loungeroom.
8. At-Home Workout. Likewise, if you don’t have a gym pass, there are plenty of free online workout routines that you can follow from your computer. And we doubt we have to tell you the many benefits that come with simply moving your body more. Try swapping elevators and escalators for stairs if you’re able and other easy methods of of sneaking in more steps throughout your day. Most smartphones also have step-counters, so you can check in on your movement.
9. Meditate. Simply sitting still and just being is a powerful self-care practice. If you want to use an app to do it, there are plenty on the market, and many of them are free. There are also books that can guide you.
10. Journal. All you need is a pen, paper, and a little time. Not a writer? Warm yourself up with these questions or start by writing down your “happy list” (the practices that make you glow, and that you can reference during funks throughout the year). We personally love this simple little A5 notebook from Typo.
11. Sleep. Everyone’s sleep needs are different. Are you an 8 hour person? 6 hours? 9 hours? Figure out what you need to feel good and try to make those hours a nightly habit, as well as develop a nighttime wind-down routine if you can muster it. And if you are up all night with a baby, there is no shame in catching up with a mum nap.
12. Eat well. Instead of holding yourself to a new and difficult diet, just try filling your plate with more fruits and vegetables in each meal. Drink more water. Watch your sugar intake. The basics.
13. Make friends with your library. If you haven’t already, explore the many—completely free—benefits of your local library and other community centres. E-books, magazines, and so many options for the kids are all yours for the
14. Take yourself to a museum. Sure, you could take the kids with you, but we all know a museum day by yourself sounds even more heavenly. If you don’t want to splurge on a ticket or membership, research which days of the month are free, mark them on your calendar, and make a date with yourself.
15. Listen to music. An automatic mood-booster. ‘Nuff said.
16. Book a snuggle session with your family. Having a permanent snuggle buddy is one of the highlights of parenthood. Put snuggling, cuddling, and just being together into your agenda for the day. Example: 6:15pm-6:30pm = mummy and me snuggle session. Both you and your kids will absolutely love this tradition.
17. Combine friends, family, and nature. One of our friends said her New Year’s resolution was to hang out with friends and family more in nature. We love this location-specific, double-whammy goal of both enjoying the people you love and the beautiful world around us, together.
18. Tidy in spurts. Sometimes feeling organised can help your brain feel less overwhelmed. Just ask Marie Kondo. But life is busy and life with kids is messy. So, instead of taking on a huge tidying project, try setting an alarm and tidy in short spurts—do a one minute tidy or a 10-minute tidy—and see what you can get done in a short, focused amount of time, then call it quits. Get the kids involved, too, so they are learning to clean up after themselves.