Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms out there! I hope your weekend was spent relaxing and enjoying some downtime.

As a hoop dance instructor, one of the biggest frustrations moms who take my hoop classes share with me, is how difficult it is to take time back for themselves. Between school, work, and home, most of them end their days with a bigger to-do list than when they started. Frustrated they can’t get it all done, they sacrifice their personal needs for their family. That’s why it’s so important to set up a daily routine of self-care. Because unless you make yourself a priority, life will always come first.

This is an area I struggle with daily, but I have found that I am happiest and most productive when I focus on 4 specific areas of self-care. I’m also more refreshed and better able to give back to my family. So really, sticking to these things is as much for them as it is for me.

1) Environment

Sometimes it feels unfair that as the mom, the majority of cooking and cleaning, organizing and maintaining that goes into managing a family falls squarely on my shoulders. But, I am happier when my environment looks, smells, and feels nice. So even though the workload sometimes feels off-balance, that inequality makes me happier.

That doesn’t mean I spend all my free-time (haha) cleaning to make things “nice”. But, it’s okay to inject some personality into the area around you. I have homemade curtains, leftover Valentine’s projects, and “art wall”. None of these things are all that special…but all of them are special to me.

What do you have around that’s special to you?

2) Exercise

Exercise contributes to improved mood and reduced stress. It helps alleviate the effects of many common western diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes,  and more. Many people feel stronger, healthier, and more beautiful when they follow a regular exercise routine.

So, why then, is it so hard for moms to maintain a regular workout?

One reason is that we put too much pressure on the potential physical results the exercise can gain for us.

Oh, you do Zumba? That’s great for fat-burning.

Oh, you do yoga? I heard that’s really good for long lean muscles.

Oh, you’re a hooper? I heard that burns like 600 calories an hour.

Instead of getting involved because we like something, too often we get started because that activity has the potential to get us the body we have longed for since before we ever had kids. But, after years of joining different activities because I thought they would make me beautiful, the only ones I willingly came back to were the ones that were fun…and ironically that is when I have felt the most beautiful.

I hoop for many reasons. But most of all, it meets the necessary fun quotient so I never have to force myself to pick up a hoop. I want to.

And that makes it easy to stick to a workout.

3) Hygiene

Somewhere between college and young love, marriage and kids, regular hygiene habits have become more of a semi-regular occurrence. Skipped leg shavings, dirty fingernails, day-old yoga pants, and messy buns meld together from one day to the next. And when our kids are the only ones who talk to us all day long, it’s easy to feel like there’s no reason to get dressed.

But one of the best things you can do for your mental health is commit to a daily morning and evening routine. Get up. Get new clothes on. Do your hair. Brush your teeth. Take some time to look at yourself. Spend a few extra minutes in the shower.

Pretty soon you’ll realize primping isn’t for your kids, husband, or anyone else. It’s for you, because when you look good, you feel good. And when you feel good, you look good.

4) Relaxation

Moms are often the first person up in the morning and the last one in bed at night. They manage mealtime, homework, school projects, grocery shopping, and more without taking a break. This kind of dedication and hard work keeps their families running, their kids smiling, and the neighbors fooled into thinking everything is under control.

But nonstop work causes burnout…which is why you see so many moms walking around with the zombie stare, on the verge of tears, and feeling like they’re never gonna be good enough for their kids.

Relaxation is an essential part of feeling whole again as a mom. It’s not always possible spend an afternoon at the spa, but you don’t need an expensive or time consuming get-away to relax.

You can start by giving yourself 5 minutes in the morning, and 5 minutes at night. Every day.

Don’t work. Don’t clean. Don’t take care of your kids. Just spend the time basking in the nothingness and do anything that helps you relax. (Hooping is my favorite way to unwind.)

Sometimes, this 5 minutes is the difference between an angry, stressful, frustrating day, and everything going your way.

Until next time, keep it hoopy.

– Missy

p.s. I’d love to hear what you do to stay sane as a mom. Comment below with your best tips!