Relaxed mom with baby

Healthy Mom, Happy Family: How to Take Care of Yourself While Caring for Your Little Ones

Daughter. Wife. Sister. Friend. Confidante. Colleague. Boss. Healer. Caregiver. Heroine.

A woman can be any one of these and more, but perhaps one of the most challenging hats you can wear is that of a mother.


Some may only be taking their first steps as new mothers. Others already consider themselves the doyenne of mothering with their years of experience. No matter where you are in your mothering journey, it will definitely be one of the toughest, albeit rewarding,  experience in your life.

Healthy Mom, Happy Family - How to take care of yourself while caring for your little ones

Wonder woman

Being a mom, you will take on more responsibilities than you had while you were single. You will now be considered the primary caregiver in your family. You will be on the constant lookout for ways to make your family thrive. You are chief homemaker (and not just housekeeper, mind you) who will do everything in her power to make sure that everything is as it should be.

In this role, you might find yourself juggling a myriad of things – husband, kids, parents, work, social life. The list of things to do could be endless as our brains tend to work overtime (even when we don’t want to!). And while you surely think you can skip it, you also have to realize that even wonder moms need to take a break.

It is imperative that you do.

The world will not stop turning just because you took a breather. It is important that you recognize your strengths and your limitations if you want to have a happy and healthy home life.

Nowadays, more and more emphasis is given on caring for oneself. Self-care is the ability to take conscious steps to engage in activities and behaviors that promote positive physical and mental health. In a society where there is a pervasive culture of putting women in specific boxes and labeling them as simply one type or another, this unified drive to consciously break free from the Stepford Wife stereotype is a much-needed move.

The shift from “martyr mom”  to fierce and fabulous female has gained traction and continues to empower women to turn the limelight on themselves. Not to say that womenfolk have discarded the need to nurture or care for their loved ones; it is simply stating that the femmes of this generation now realize the value of taking care of themselves.

How, then, can women continue to tend to themselves while caring for their husbands, kids and other family members? In the movie called Your Life, here are some things to do to be in the starring role:


…saying yes to everything. Some friends, family, and other people around you seem to think they can ask you for favors and that you are obliged to give it to them. You are not. Let them get over their meteoric sense of entitlement by saying no. Refusing to do things that do not serve your needs or the general well-being of your loved ones is completely acceptable. Say yes to things that help fulfill and enrich your life.

… feeding yourself junk. Your body is not a trash bin. It is easy to fall into the trap of takeaways and fast food when you’re flitting from one appointment to the next, but this isn’t the way to go. Sometimes, convenient does not necessarily equal healthy.

Opt for a more balanced diet with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. Steer clear of sugar-laden, processed food. Combined with proper exercise and enough sleep, you can ensure that your body is equipped with the right amount of energy to take on the numerous tasks ahead of you.

…feeling guilty. Get to the bottom of why you have mommy-guilt. Is it because you think you don’t spend enough time with your kids? Are you stressed from work that you sometimes unintentionally snap at them? Halt your counterproductive thoughts! There’s no perfect parent, so stop comparing yourself to others.

Instead, look at the bigger picture and perhaps, you have been micro-managing. Learn to delegate and trust your family members. If you cannot make it to your kid’s dental appointment, be assured that your husband can take care of it. Your friend is running a marathon with his child? No biggie, you also have fun with your youngster making soap bubbles while washing the dishes.

You have your own style, your own way, and your own means of showing how you love and take care of your own.

Mom cuddling baby


…and take a break. As the author Etty Hillesum said, “Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.”

Even just five minutes of getting out of the laundry room to enjoy a cup of coffee can already break the monotony of daily tasks. Learn how to take mini-breaks throughout your day to recharge your mind and body. Get a nap. Stare into space and daydream. Take time to count your blessings and be thankful for them. These breathers allow you to stay calm and relaxed. They also serve as a way to refocus and come back to your responsibilities feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Self care lotion


…and do something else other than parenting. You are the same person you were before you got married and had kids. Maybe just a little more experienced, more loved, more special. If you are athletic, pick up your old sport or try a new one. Cannot spend as much time with your book club? Join an online one. Love dancing? Enroll yourself in a salsa class.

Doing these things will help you reconnect with yourself. It also shows your kids that mommy has her own personality. You lead by example, and who knows? Maybe your kids can pick up a thing or two from your admirable traits.

…indulge yourself. Schedule a special mommy-only moment and pamper yourself. Work out a schedule with your husband wherein he can take care of the kids while you take time out to do things you enjoy. Call up your friends and shop for fantastic postpartum clothing. Have a movie date with your mom. Treat yourself to a day at the spa.

Whatever it is that you feel like doing on your own that will perk you up, do it. A day away from the circus that is your house can be good for your sanity and peace of mind.

Mommy matters

First things first. Have you ever wondered why the instructions on airline safety says, “Put on your mask first before helping your child or other passengers”?

In case of an emergency, masks drop down from the compartments above you containing enough oxygen for about 12 minutes. If you’re flying at altitudes of 20,000 ft. or above, people can go unconscious due to hypoxia (oxygen deprivation) within 20 to 60 seconds. Putting on your mask first then attending to your child will give you a better chance to save other’s lives.

This otherwise cliché example only stresses home the point that before you can nurture and care for others, you must take care of yourself. Before you pay attention to the needs of the whole family, direct your attention to yourself first.

Is it being selfish? No, it is a necessity. You need to make your happiness a priority so you can also bring happiness to others. You have to love yourself first before you can love others around you. When you are full of love, life and joy, it will be easier for you to pour it out and share with others.

Why do you need to do this?


About The Author

At 16, Merril Bainbridge began her career in the Australian fashion industry. In her early 20’s she left to launch a successful Pop Music career which saw her at the top of the US Music Charts. Retiring to start a family, she found a new purpose helping breastfeeding women with her fashion label, Peachymama.


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  1. I am definitely guilty of this.

    Since I became a Mom it feels like I’ve discovered a totally new phase of being tired. The phrase: “Even my tired is tired” started to make sense to me.

    To me Moms are like superheroes. No-one can multi-task like a Mom can. I surprise myself sometimes with the amount of things that I got done in a day.

    A Mom’s duties never end and time for leisure is very limited in our home. I am silly. I can ask my husband to look after JD so that I can go for a coffee break with a friend or do something for myself. But the moment I’m gone, I feel guilty and wonder how things are going at home.

    I am ridiculous, I know. We all need a break and some me-time every once in a while.

    I am lucky that my job allows me to do some of the things I love. I am busy at certain times, but then I also have days where it is really quiet and peaceful at the office. I usually have my crochet accessories, adult coloring in books and accessories and some books to read at the office that I keep here all the time.

    I haven’t gotten round to reading a book again since I had JD because I’ve been keeping myself busy with other projects.

    But I think it’s time to pick up a book and actually finish it. I do enjoy reading very much and I actually miss being engulfed by a riveting book that I can’t manage to put down until the last page was read.

    • Betsie Labuschagne

      I know what you mean by feeling guilty and wondering how they are when you are not with them. That is just part of being a mom. I am lucky enough that I can leave my daughter with her dad on the days I go shopping, which is once a week. It’s only for a few hours but as soon as I leave I miss her and nowadays she just wants to go with me as soon as she is seeing that I preparing to go shopping. For me, it is a big plus that I know she is happy and taken care off while I am away. The same goes when we are out of town for business. She then stays at a family member who also have a daycare. I know she enjoys being with the other kids a lot and that allows me to do what has to be done. But as soon as it becomes six o’clock in the afternoon, all I want to do, is she my daughter!

  2. stephanie videira

    the first 4 years of my daughter life we stayed far away from family( so no grandparents to help when i needed a day off) and she wasn’t in pre-school so she was with me 24/7 which was hard when i just need some me time ( my husband was working away from home 2 weeks of the month, but we have since had another child and moved to the same town as both of our parents so its been great having some time to our self’s, makes the world of difference ( though saying that our baby is teething so lack of sleep at the moment.

  3. This article reaches me on a very personal level! Diagnosed and hospitalised with Severe Depression and anxiety in March 2017, I know exactly how important it is to look after yourself in order to care for what was important to you. . My most difficult hurdle, is finding the time to do what I KNOW makes me feel mentally happy, being a single mom who co-parents with my Baby Daddy, I seem to spend the days she is with me – soaking in every inch of her, every giggle, every argument absolutely everything. The days she is not with me I feel like all I am doing is preparing for when I do have her, for example; cooking in advance so that I do not lose time with her having to stand in the kitchen making dinner. Every now and again, I stop and say to myself, You need to ground yourself, before you lose yourself. There are so many things I want to do, paint my nails, take up photography again, find a small hobby I enjoy, just for a little me time. My question to all the mamas out there is how do you balance your time, to do what needs to be done AND still do the things that make you, well, you?

    • Betsie Labuschagne

      I think if you take it day by day, you will eventually find a balance that works for you. I know it’s hard finding time with everything else that needs to be done but I have also learned that there are shortcuts that you can incorporate which makes all the difference.

      Make an appointment with yourself for an hour each day that she is not with you. Then use that hour to do something for yourself. It is amazing what an hour each day can do for your mood, and well being. You can even do something in the day when she is taking a nap, even if it is only for 30 minutes. It makes all the difference.

      I, too, was caught up in having to do everything, but then as time got by, I noticed that I can use these little quiet times to do something else and ‘switch off’ from all the other things that has to be done.

      • Thank you so much @smurfy84, my little one no longer naps unfortunately, much to mom’s horror LOL
        But I will definitely try the hour thing on the days I do not have her. I think it is all about time management as well and unfortunately I lack that skill lately 😛 I think I will sit down this weekend and try and plan my hour into the days I am alone. I agree with you that it is amazing what a little time to your self can do, I find even if I set a little bit of time aside and paint my nails, it makes a HUGE difference. Something so simple yet we battle to make time for it, it is crazy!

  4. Such a great motivating article. As moms we usually overload on responsibilities. We try to keep everyone happy but seldom look at what we need to be happy. It is so easy to give advice too! Not as easy to follow your own advice though…I’ve caught myself giving this advice to so many new moms, especially when I see those tired eyes. But I struggle to follow it myself. I wonder if we try to over-achieve because of our instinct to make sure our family is always happy and thriving. Throw in some trauma, divorce and single-parenting and things feel twice as hard.

    Suddenly it is hard to find time for those little somethings we like to do for ourselves. And sometimes we miss the special little moments with our little ones because we are just too stressed, tired and overwhelmed.

    In the end, though, I think they understand more than we give them credit for. Moreover, I believe if we teach our children by way of example how to look after yourself, make time for what you want to do, they will grow up to be more balanced grown-ups. Maybe by giving too much we teach our children to expect and to take too much, which is not what society needs…

    And if we see it like this it may be easier to allow ourselves to actually take time to spend on ourselves without the guilt because in effect we are building up the next generation of moms and dads…

    • Beautifully said Githa, I am so with you on that. I want to teach my daughter to love herself and to look after herself but kids learn by observation and not so much by what we say. If I want my daughter to do those things for herself I had better start being a better role model!

  5. This is such a great article that I feel every mom and dad should read.

    The pressure from society has such an impact of our family life. It is just one appointment after the other or one thing on the “to-do” before…and then you realize you never made you that cup of coffee you longed for.

    Being a mom is the best feeling in the world but also a very tiring job and we need to look after yourself because when we sick, who will look after the little ones then?

    During the school term life is hectic for me but because I get holidays when the schools does plus my kids day-care centres do not close, I make a point of having “me-time”. I drop the kids in the morning and then do whatever I’ve planned for the day even if it is just watching series.

    Since I finish work on a Friday afternoon at 1, I use the afternoon to do things for me like going to the hairdresser etc. I use to feel so guilty for not fetching them on a Friday afternoon or sending them in the holiday to the day-care but I soon realized that if I don’t look after myself, I will not make it.

    We are only human!
    From one tired and exhausted mom who cannot wait for Friday!

  6. I was taken out for a weekend treat by my aunty sans husband and children and I got lectured by my sister in law about our mother duties.

    I had a great time and got bumped back to reality that Sunday evening. I felt like crying and wanted the weekend to just on for 1 day more.

  7. Beautiful article mum’s how do we do it taking care of everyone needs but ourselves Going above and beyond our limits because we are soft caring kind and loving . We do need time for ourselves I’m lucky as hubby acknowledges this and most days when he comes from work he helps clean up and will make me a cup of tea and sandwich. I love going out and interacting with other mum’s it revitalise me to take on the next hour or so

  8. Being a mom is the most rewarding full-time job you can get. This coupled with a full-time job makes life very tiring. I work six days a week at my full-time job. On Sundays it is cleaning, doing the washing, etc. In the evenings I do my assignments for my new course so there is never much time for a break or a bit of me time that usually comes when I take a really long bath to unwind.

    I do know that if my children sense that mom is stressed it makes them more anxious as well and makes them quite difficult to settle. It was much easier to catch a ten minute break when I had one son. When my second born came along that ten minutes quickly disappeared. As they get older they do seem to realize mom needs a few minutes to herself sometimes especially after a long day at work.

  9. It is not the easiest being the high achieving, driven and ambitious busy working mom.
    Mothers have the ability to juggle work, family and dozens of responsibilities, tasks and errands daily.
    Because of the level of stress we end up with, (which you may not even realize because this pace has become our new normal), we are bound to be exhausted.
    Stress in mothers is under-rated, personally in my opinion it adds to fluctuations in your adrenal and hormone levels which ultimately leads to numerous illnesses.
    Keep this up and you’re headed for chronic illness like diabetes, heart disease and more while speeding up the aging process.
    All this is preventable and this article has been informative and motivational too all mothers out there. Take better care of yourself. You are important. Thank you.

  10. My downfall is junk food, lack of exercise and sleep. With three active boys around me 24/7 I find it hard to even have a cup of coffee sitting. I find by the end of the day after schooling, cooking, cleaning and everything in between I find myself so battered physically, mentally and emotionally.

    Every year I say to myself this year is “me year” and it never gets there. My husband works six days a week and luxury of grandparents or babysitter is very rare. So any advice on how I can even fit in a quick YouTube exercise during my day? Every mother needs her thing right?

  11. I struggle to let go and to allow myself to have time to do something other than mothering. Like you say, I guess it is a guilt thing; maybe I feel like I am a bad mother if I am not constantly doing something that will benefit my family. The other day, though, I realised what a difference it makes when one does take a little break. My family agreed to look after the little ones while my husband and I headed to Makro to do some shopping. It sounds crazy, but I had so much fun, going to Makro, just my husband and I. We were able to talk without interruption; we were able to walk into the shop and ask for help without having to check 360 degrees every two seconds to see where the little ones were beetling off to; we shared a boerewors roll and coke from a stand outside the shop, and I felt like we were on a date!

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