We all need it, and yet for me and so many other women I know, prioritizing self-care doesn’t come easy. The benefits to our overall well-being have been studied and proven to be positive. Personally, the impact of taking time for myself ends up benefitting my whole family! When my cup is full, I am more creative, energetic, patient, motivated, and empathetic towards others. I find that I can regulate my emotions more easily which is especially awesome when dealing with irrational toddler melt-downs.
Ultimately, I know the power that self-care can have in my life. And still I resist carving out that time for myself.
One thing I’ve learned is that self-care is easier for me when I have things on hand that I can use to create quality experiences right at home. This means finding favorite things that help entice me to fill my cup. Things that make it simple for me to slip self-care into the margins of my day. Reading and writing early in the mornings before my family wakes up or during nap time. Comfortable things I can wear around the house that make me feel cozy and warm. An impromptu home-pedicure with a bright new polish color. Or perhaps a late night relaxing soak in the bath after kids go to bed.
Here are a few of my favorite things I reach for when I need some quality self-care.
1. Reading for Self-Care:
I love books and I love to read. Curling up with a good book and a hot cup of coffee or tea is one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways show myself some quality self-care. Here are some regular things I reach for when I want to lean into loving on my bookish-self.
- What Kind of Woman by Kate Baer. This book of poems is absolutely life-giving. I have gifted it to several friends and continually pick it up when I need to feel inspired and empowered.
- The Book of Qualities by Ruth Gendler. Someone gave me this book when I was in college and it has been one I return to over and over again. A delightfully diverse expression of human qualities written as characters of our own familiar emotions.
- Book Nerd coffee cup by Fishes Eddy. Coffee is one of my favorite parts of my morning ritual every day. And nothing beats having the perfect mug to enjoy it in. Pair that with an awesome book and it’s everything I could want for in a self-care-kind-of-morning. I try to wake up before my family most days so I can have this time for myself as an offering of self-love as often as possible.
- Apple AirPod Pro Headphones – These were a special gift from Paul for Christmas this year. He knows how much I love to listen to audiobooks and my regular headphones didn’t have noise-cancelling capabilities. So this year he treated me to a fancy pair. Our kids are pretty wild (and loud!) so these have been awesome to help me find my zen.
2. Comfortable Favorites:
Nothing makes self-love feel easier than to be cozied up in my favorite and most comfortable things to wear. This tends to be my splurge zone in life because I wear cozy things like it’s my every day job. Here are a few of my favs.
- Engraved Necklace from Made By Mary. This year Papa Paul helped the little boys get me a Made by Mary necklace for Christmas with their names engraved on two thin gold bars. I put it on immediately after opening the package and haven’t taken it off since. It’s my favorite thing to wear!
- Patagonia Fleece – My love for Patagonia runs deep. When we lived in Chicago and I was waiting for my nursing license to process, I worked for Patagonia for several months. It was SUCH an amazing job and their products are beyond compare. I have never known a company to stand by their values more than this one. I’ll be a Patagonia loyalist for the rest of my life for certain. And I live in this sweatshirt daily.
- Ugg Slippers – I’m not sure when I first splurged on a pair of Ugg slippers but it’s one favorite I don’t want to live without. These are the most comfortable, warm, and practical slipper I’ve ever stuck my toes in. We don’t wear regular shoes in the house so these are glued to my feet winter, spring, and fall.
- Vuori Joggers (not pictured). I was desperate for some new comfy sweatpants in the early days of quarantine. One day coincidentally, I opened my Real Simple magazine and ran across a product review article on sweatpants. Bought these on a whim and after 2 weeks of wearing them non-stop, promptly went back and bought another pair.
3. Favorite Writing Tools:
My creativity is one of my greatest sources of self-care. Since I was very young, writing has been one of the most powerful outlets for me. I find there is a mental release in the expression of emotions shared on the page and in the flow of putting pen to paper. That’s why I consider myself quite the connoisseur of pens and paper! Here are some of my favorites.
- Noted Pens from Target. These felt-tip pens come in a variety of fun colors and are similar to Le Pens that I also love. If you are gel-ink pen fan, then consider the G2 Pilot pens (I prefer bold but the micro and fine point are also terrific).
- Notebooks from 1Canoe2 are some of the best in my opinion. The paper quality is incredible, the weight is thick enough that your ink doesn’t bleed, and the cover designs are so fun and cheerful. I use these for all kinds of creative projects – journaling, brainstorming, note-taking, doodling… you name it.
- Gratitude Journal from 1Canoe2. I love all of the prompted journals from this company. In fact, these are some of my favorite gifts to give close friends (especially ones I want to encourage and support in their own of efforts of self-care). This one gives undated morning prompts and evening prompts that help me focus in to the gratitudes of the day.
4. Relaxing into Self-Care:
One of my very favorite things to do is to relax in a hot bath. Making time to pamper ourselves is such a great way soak in self-love. And yet I often struggle with this form of self-care the most! Here are some of my must-haves when I do make time to pamper myself.
- Oui! Candle by Mer-Sea (or any of their different scents). There is something kind of magical for me about a candle burning. The light fragrance filling the air, the flicker of the flame, the shadows that dance on the wall when you turn the lights down. I discovered this brand when I visited a little gift shop at the beach several years ago and have loved it ever since.
- Bubble bath + Bath salt Set by Mer-Sea. Another luxurious olfactory experience in self-care complete with a hot bath bonus.
- Lip and body scrubs by Bathhouse Soapery & Caldarium. A few years back my sister gave me a delightful body scrub from this company (out of Hot Springs, AR) that remains my favorite after all this time. The fragrances are amazing and the products are awesome too.
- Que Bella Face Mask Pamper Pack from Target. Would you believe me if I told you I’d never done a facial mask before just a couple years ago? I’m not sure how I stumbled on this affordable brand (maybe it was their colorful marketing that caught my eye once upon a Target wandering) but these are the only ones I’ve ever used and I really enjoy them!
- Butter LONDON Nail Polish (the Dearie Me color) – I love getting pedicures. It’s probably tied at the top with (or just smidge above) soaking in a hot bathtub for my favorite way to feel pampered. Since covid, I’ve taken to trying to paint my own toenails instead of going to a nail salon. While it’s definitely not the same experience, I can really appreciate the way a bright color on my toes can lift my spirits.
I want to be the woman who finds balance between creativity and self and motherhood and embraces the chaos of it all. One of the best ways for me to live life as the best-version of myself is to recognize how enhanced life is (for everyone in our house!) when I prioritize my own self-care. My wish for myself is also my wish for you. That we may feel confident in filling our cups and find ways to do so that are within daily reach.