Routines play a big role in our lives, whether we realize it or not.
Even the most free-spirited people have some set routines in their lives that help them daily. Maybe they always eat the same thing for breakfast. Maybe they always do the same thing before bed – even if the rest of their day is unpredictable.
Routines give us structure. They help relive the decision fatigue that comes from having to make tons of unnecessary choices each day. They also help us accomplish the goals we’d like to achieve on a daily basis, by giving us a set time and place to tackle them.
Routines relieve stress, I’ve found, because we don’t have to try to do everything at once. A routine creates a plan and a strategy.
Today I’m going to share my daily afternoon self-care routine. I skip it if we aren’t home in the afternoon, but since I still have two little guys who get tired in the afternoon, we’re usually home at this time.
I called it a nap-time routine, but honestly at this point my kids are doing a daily quiet time instead of a nap. Everyday they are allotted two hours of quiet rest time (even if they don’t fall asleep.) For us, this is screen-time. I try not to let them go over two hours because I read that more than two hours of screen-time a day will start to wear down their attention spans.
If you’re a parent who doesn’t use screens at all, good for you! If you do more than two hours a day, I get it. You gotta do what you gotta do! This is just what works for us. It took me a long time to find an afternoon routine that worked for all of us. This is what we’ve been doing for several months now and it is going well. Again, my kids have aged out of naps but we ALL need a break in the afternoons to refresh us.
The best thing is that I get the break and nourishment that I really need – in the middle of the day – before my husband even gets home from work! Woohoo! This is such an accomplishment for me. I used to live for the evenings and the weekends. Now I have a little break for myself built into my day with the kids, and it has been truly wonderful!
I’ve written more about self-care here. While self-care is kind of a buzzword right now, I think it is genuinely so important – for all of us, but especially for mothers! Self-care isn’t selfish. If we aren’t refreshed, we will quickly run dry and not be able to give the best version of ourselves to our family. I’m far from perfect. My family deserves the best version of me there is.
My nap-time / quiet time routine:
The first thing I do once the kids are settled is change into my workout clothes. This takes all of five minutes. It’s important to take this first step, so that I don’t slack on my workout. If I let myself get comfortable or make a cup of tea before this is done, I might not get up for all of quiet time. It is vital that I take the first step and get in my workout clothes and shoes quickly, before I have time to talk myself out of it.
It is so good for my body and my mind to get moving each and every day. I have a little home gym set up in my basement, where I rotate between strength training and cardio days. If you’d like to start a habit of daily workouts, you don’t need much though. A yoga mat and Youtube will get you started!
My rotating routines that I choose from:
Pull ups, hanging leg raises, push-ups, plank runs 4 sets of 12 DONE!
30-45 minutes on the elliptical OR rowing machine (I let myself watch Youtube while on the elliptical) DONE!
30-45 minutes strength training with weights + short warmup (I can share my in-depth routine another time if there is interest) DONE!
After my workout, I make a quick green smoothie with protein powder. This takes about 10 minutes, start to finish. I noticed a big change in my strength and recovery when I started upping my protein intake immediately following workouts. (More on my strength training and recovery routine here.)
Bath or shower
If I’m almost out of time, I’ll take a quick shower. But if the kids are still doing good, I’ll almost always opt for a hot bath instead. Turns out this is really great for the muscles and the whole body. It’s called hydrotherapy and heck, they even say a hot bath can burn as many calories as a 30-minute walk! I just know they make me feel relaxed and amazing.
After my bath, if there’s still any quiet time left, I get a chance to make some green tea and put my feet up. This is my chance to write if I’m feeling motivated, or indulge in some Youtube if I’m not that motivated. The great thing about this little moment is that even if I’m lazy, I feel like I’ve earned it. Nothing beats the feeling of putting your feet up after a good workout and feeling the glow of your accomplishment. (As opposed to the kinda yucky feeling I get if I just lounge around all day….you know what I mean?)
By this time, the kids are done with quiet time, and it’s time to feed them a snack and get on with our day. But I’ve found that this little afternoon routine has been super beneficial for me. Even if I don’t feel like doing it, when I do it anyway, it brightens up my day and fuels me from the inside.
Now, if you think I have a lot of energy or something, keep in mind that my kids sleep through the night. When my kids didn’t sleep through the night, all I wanted was a nap myself! And there is certainly no shame in that! I’m at a point now though where I need to be active and stretch myself physically. And going to the gym everyday is out of the question! Even if there was childcare there, we would never make it out the door in the afternoon! I adapted this to suit my own family and my own needs.
My goal is create a life that I don’t need a vacation from. A daily routine that is fulfilling and gives me something to look forward to. Ideally, life is more than just weekends and vacations. It’s all the little in-between moments that form our lives.
If you’re a stay at home mom with little ones, what do you do during nap-time / quiet time? What restores and rejuvenates you for the rest of the day? If you don’t have a routine, I encourage you to create one that makes you feel amazing – for where you’re at in your own life.
Photography by Alex Marie