motherhood wholehearted living

24 Self-Care Practices for Mothers: Do It for Yourself. Do It For Your Daughter.

Our daughters (and sons) may be young, but they won’t be for long.

I’m amazed at what my daughter, at only two years old, soaks in daily. New words, new expressions, new connections. And there’s no one in the world she watches like she watches me.

The other night as I tucked her in, she was chattering away about bath time.

“Trenton take a bath WITH ME! Chase take a bath WITH ME!”


“Mommy have her OWN bath.”

You got that right, little lady. 

She watches me. What I eat, how I dress, the tone I use with her siblings, the tone I use with her father. She’s my mini-me, and I want nothing more than to be the woman she needs me to be.

That starts with taking care of me. So that someday, when it’s her turn to be the bleary-eyed mother of a newborn, the bone-tired mother of a toddler, the mentally-drained mother of a teenager—she’ll know how to find her center again.

Just like she saw me do a thousand times.

Over the last couple of years, we’ve noticed the word “self-care” popping up everywhere. Every time I encounter it, I think to myself, Self-care isn’t just a list of things to do; it’s a state of mind.

It’s a lens through which you get to see your home, your family, your life.

It stems from an effort to love yourself, to guard your thoughts with care, and to hold your self-worth above everything else.

Self-care isn’t just something you do; it’s the way you think. It’s a way of life.

But of course, life has its special way of throwing us off—derailing us. The 24 practices below are not just more things add to your to-do list. (Heaven knows, I know you have plenty on your plate.) They’re simple practices to help you realign yourself, when the going gets tough, with that lens of self-love you want to see the world through.

24 Self-Care Practices for Mothers

1. Light a candle; breathe it in deeply and deliberately.

2. Read a book, especially one you know fills up your soul, like a conversation with an old friend.

3. Have a conversation with an old friend!

4. Climb into your child’s bed before the day even starts for a few minutes of cuddles. Do you know what even six seconds of physical touch can do for you?

5. Inhale deeply the moment you step outside your house. Notice how the morning air smells instead of rushing through it.

6. Create a touch point in your home or at work. A place where whenever you touch it you remind yourself to live in the moment. (Think: the door knob to your bedroom, the threshold of your front door.)

7. Take two minutes to reminisce, either with your kids or on your own, about a fond memory.

“Our dopamine output increases not only when we experience something pleasurable the first time, but again when we remember it… [By reminiscing] we and our children can enjoy more of what we already have.” Goldie Hawn, 10 Mindful Minutes

8. Write about what you’re grateful for in a journal.

9. Start a daily gratitude practice with your family by sharing at the dinner table one thing you were thankful for that day.

10. Take a hot shower or bath. (That’s right, baby girl. Mama has her OWN bath!) Make it more special by lighting a candle, using your favorite scents, or playing mellow music. #itsthelittlethings

11. Do a thought download. (It feels good to get it all out!)

12. Try a new make-up technique; it feels good to step outside of your usual routine.

13. Say a prayer before you turn the keys in the ignition. Pray anytime, obviously, but a friend once told me this particular moment is a natural one for her, and I agree. Maybe it will be for you too.

14. Buy a houseplant. Seeing green inside your space every day is surprisingly revitalizing.

15. Try five minutes of meditation. I’m a big fan of the Headspace app.

16. Write in your journal. And remember that there’s no formula for journal writing. Jot down a bulleted list, write about your day, write about how you feel, write a single sentence—just write. (This is a particularly beautiful journal for self-acceptance: Start Where You Are.)

“A word after a word after a word is power.” Margaret Atwood

17. Exercise. Extra credit if you get outside or listen to music that makes you love life.

18. Rub lotion into your hands or feet before you go to sleep.

19. Unplug from social media for as long as you need.

20. To be more specific, unplug completely from the internet one day a week, like Sundays.

21. Hold a warm drink with both hands.

22. Set a weekly intention. Need some mantras to try out? 12 Mantras for Moms Who Want to Love More

23. Schedule some daytime babysitting to do something you rarely do. Like getting a drink at Starbucks and people watching from the window or going to the nearest body of water (my pick is the ocean!) and sticking your feet in.

24. Take a walk, and spend a couple of minutes focusing on a single sensation, like the wind on your face or the way your foot connects with the ground.

"I want nothing more than to be the woman my daughter needs me to be. That starts with taking care of me." | 24 Self-Care Practices for MothersLet’s do it for us. Let’s do it for our daughters.

photo credit: Tevi Hardy Photography

  • Evanthia
    October 20, 2015 at 11:39 am

    Great list, Erica! I keep this little satchel of incense in my kitchen, the type they use at my church, and I’ll periodically stop to smell it when I’m feeling a little frayed. It really does calm me!

    • Erica Layne
      October 20, 2015 at 3:25 pm

      What an awesome one to add to this, Evie! Thanks so much. I think maybe I need to smell some incense right about now, because my sweeties are driving me a little bonkers this afternoon! 😉

  • Cara
    October 21, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    I’m going along the same lines and making an aromatherapy blend to help me stop and relax. I’m hoping to blend with oil and use as a perfume or make a room spritz for a boost.

    • Erica Layne
      October 21, 2015 at 2:58 pm

      Oooh, good one, Cara! Can I come over to your house? 😉

  • Mandi
    November 5, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    What a fantastic list of ideas! I’ve been trying to do better about taking care of myself lately, and I’m definitely going to implement some of these. I’ve found that having an intentional bedtime routine has worked wonders for my sleep quality. Turning off the screens, getting cozy with a good book while diffusing lavender oil… I’m getting sleepy just thinking about it 🙂

  • Selina
    February 22, 2016 at 12:28 pm

    You are wonderful! I’ve just been browsing through pinterest for inspiring and wise words on self-love and stumbled across you. Now signed up to your newsletter 🙂

    I’m one of the founders of Project Love ( and as a new mama have been really looking at how we keep that up as mamas. You are offering such wise words on it. THANK YOU xxx

  • Dee
    March 7, 2016 at 1:32 pm

    What a wonderful list! I’ve a painting( something I painted awhile back) as my stillness centre. It helps me align whenever life gets a bit too noisy!

    • Erica Layne
      March 7, 2016 at 10:35 pm

      “My stillness centre.” Wow, I love that. I’m going to be thinking about the concept – thank you!

  • Isobel
    May 25, 2016 at 4:57 am

    Love this list… as a new mum much needed today

  • Adelle
    May 26, 2016 at 2:54 am

    Love the simplicity of these…

    • Erica Layne
      May 26, 2016 at 10:44 am

      Thanks so much, Adelle. Seems like simplicity in self-care is essential for moms. For me, at least! Best wishes, and thanks for stopping by!

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  • Wangui
    December 7, 2016 at 5:04 am

    Thankyou for this…. “She watches me. What I eat, how I dress” I can totally relate with this. I have a one year old girl. She’s a mini-me. I want to give the best me too… #GreetingsfromKenya

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  • Amanda
    March 3, 2017 at 11:02 am

    I love this post! People have been asking me recently what I do for myself. My answer is usually….”Sleep?” This list is so much better than that! I just discovered your blog and I’m excited to read more! I love the idea of “Let Why Lead!” This is also a philosophy that I use each day.

    • Erica Layne
      March 5, 2017 at 1:01 pm

      Haha, I love me a good “sleep,” Amanda! 😉 Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment. I took a peek at your blog and it looks beautiful and meaningful. Keep in touch! -Erica

  • Jade
    October 13, 2017 at 11:14 am

    Thank you for sharing this Erica – Gratitude practice is such a wonderful idea for families! Lovely blog post, love your images also!

    • Erica Layne
      October 16, 2017 at 10:45 am

      Thank you, Jade! All the best to you!

  • Chu
    October 18, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    good read to start my Thursday morning. I’m Filipino & a single mom of three—12y.o., 4 and 3. I’m a Nursery teacher and we are starting a new life here in Indonesia.

    Thank you….simply thank. You have no idea how glad I am to stumble into something like this in a moment when a lot of things seem lost.

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