Self-care. It’s something we hear about all the time on social media, TV, everywhere. But as a Christian woman — more specifically, a Christian mom — is self-care selfish? Is it Biblical?
To answer those questions, we have to start by talking about what the term “self-care” actually means. Does it have something to do with mani/pedis, weekly massages, weekend getaways, or new cars? Maybe it’s about chasing a career goal or reading self-help books.
Or maybe it’s none of those things.
What Is Self-Care For Christian Moms?
I’ll be honest here. If self-care means spending money I don’t have or working to the point of exhaustion in the name of “bettering myself,” then I don’t want it.
While I certainly don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with the activities mentioned above (I mean, come on - what mama couldn’t use a relaxing massage every once in a while?!), I don’t think they’re what true self-care is about.
Really, genuinely caring for yourself means staying healthy (physically, mentally, and spiritually) and, most importantly, resting.
So when you define self-care in this way, yes, it’s absolutely Biblical. Think about it. The Bible tells us our body is a temple. In other words, we need to take care of it.
(Unfortunately for my sweet tooth, taking care of my body doesn’t include pigging out on junk food.)
If that doesn’t convince you, remember that after creating the entire universe, God rested. And then later, during the time of Jesus’s ministry, Jesus would often steal away from the crowds to be alone and pray.
If it’s important enough for Jesus to take a break, I think it’s safe to say we should be doing the same.
But if real self-care doesn’t (always) involve pampering yourself with expensive spa treatments or going on fancy vacations, then what does it look like? How do you take care of yourself in a Biblical, selfless way in a world that’s so full of selfish ideals?
Self-Care For Christian Moms: 10 Tips
1) Keep It Simple
I think the first thing we have to realize is that self-care doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, the more complicated you make it the more stressed you’ll be trying to accomplish it…which kind of defeats the purpose.
The good news is anything that relaxes you or allows you a little bit of a break will work.
Taking a bubble bath after the kids are in bed? Self-care. Getting up 30 minutes before everybody else in your house so you can have some time to drink your coffee in peace (and while it’s actually hot)? Self-care. Going for a walk around your neighborhood? Self-care.
Simple is sometimes best when it comes to self-care for Christian moms.
2) Start Small
Don’t expect to jump right into hour-long bubble baths at night if you’re used to taking that time to get things done around the house, work, or whatever else. And you can’t just decide to immediately start waking up two hours earlier every day if you’re not a morning person (or, at least, I can’t…).
Those are great goals to shoot for, but you have to sort of ease yourself into these habits. Maybe start with waking up half an hour earlier than normal or saving the bubble baths for once every couple of weeks.
The important thing to remember is that caring for yourself is a process, not a one-time magic pill.
3) Make The Time
I’m the absolute worst about making schedules and plans and then not sticking to them. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve set weekly or daily goals only to start the next week realizing I didn’t hit a single one.
I mean, y’all, life is busy. Kids, housework, marriage, school activities, career, grocery shopping, doctor’s appointments, dentist appointments…and the list goes on. Who has time for self-care?!
Nobody, that’s who. Nobody has time for self-care. The trick is to make time.
I struggle with this pretty much every day. But, hey, self-care is a process, right?
4) Put Faith First
The absolute ultimate self-care for Christian moms is strengthening our faith. That means spending time studying God’s Word and praying…on a regular basis.
This one’s difficult, too, because…life. But let me tell y’all, my day tends to go a whole heck of a lot smoother when I start it with Jesus. I find myself being more patient and kind toward my family, having a more positive attitude, being more motivated, and on and on.
This is the best kind of self-care I could ever practice.
Let me explain. As Christians, we’re called to serve others. We’re also called to minister to people and spread the Gospel. That’s much harder to do if you’re not building your own relationship with God and nurturing your own faith.
A friend of mine recently pointed out that this idea is like the airplane analogy. Ya gotta put on your oxygen mask (in this case, your faith) before you can help anyone else get theirs on.
Otherwise, we’re all goin’ down with that plane.
5) Just Breathe
Sometimes, self-care is simply taking a step back and just breathing. Inhale, exhale. Repeat.
I did a lot of that today. Why? Because I asked my kids to clean up.
They were tasked with straightening up our bonus room (which serves as my office, their playroom, and a guest room all in one) and their bedrooms this morning because we’re leaving to go out of town Sunday.
And if you know me, you know I like to come home to a somewhat-clean house. Otherwise I stress waaaay too much during a trip.
Anyway, it took my children (who are 7 and 3) the entire morning to finish. And I had to constantly yell (read: scream) at them to keep cleaning up.
It wasn’t my best moment.
But today, it took all I had to just not go off the deep end. There were lots of “breathing breaks.” And that’s all right. Sometimes a mama’s gotta do what a mama’s gotta do.
6) Plan Ahead
Just like any other habit you’re trying to establish, practicing self-care requires some planning. Whether it’s taking a bubble bath, reading a book before bed, or waking up early, more than likely you’re going to have to plan it out.
If you want to soak in the tub for an hour after the kids are asleep but you’ve got cookies to bake for a school event the next day (for example), then the bath probably isn’t going to happen. Not that night, anyway.
No matter what self-care activities you want to make a habit of, ya gotta plan ahead, mama. Maybe even block time off in your calendar every day — or a couple of times a week to start with — specifically for self-care.
7) Accept Occasional Failure
Be kind to yourself! Again, making self-care a habit won’t happen overnight.
There will be days when you’ve planned to wake up early, work out, read your Bible, and basically kick some butt and take some names. But instead, you oversleep, skip your quiet time, and barely make it through the witching hour.
Girl, it’s OK. Nobody can be 100% on top of things all the time. We all have those days. The best thing you can do is give yourself grace and start fresh the next morning.
Remember - God’s mercies are new each day.
8) Don’t Compete
Jealousy is the opposite of self-care. You can’t see yourself the way God sees you if you’re constantly comparing your life to someone else’s.
Y’all, I’m gonna be real honest here (again). This is my weakness. I’m so easily caught up in comparing my success — especially as an author — to other people’s. (Why is her book an Amazon best-seller and mine’s not?)
But it’s not even just that. It’s motherhood, too. (How does so-and-so have such an amazing figure a month after giving birth when I’m still trying to lose all the extra weight I gained from my last pregnancy…almost four years ago?! Or… Why do her kids eat their veggies without even putting up a fight?)
Friends, jealousy is Satan’s playground. This is where he gets you.
He whispers, “Look at that mom; she’s doing so much better than you,” and then you start to feel discouraged. Jealousy creeps in, and pretty soon, you’re feeling completely discontent with your own life.
And that’s often when we’re the most vulnerable to sin.
9) Find An Accountability Partner
Accountability is so important anytime you’re trying to achieve something, and self-care is no exception. Goals are easier to smash with a friend.
We weren’t meant to walk this life alone. God created us for fellowship — first with Him, then with other Christians. Why? So we can encourage each other, lift each other up, pray for each other, and, yes, even be brutally honest when necessary.
Find that one person, whether it’s your spouse, a friend, or your mom, who you know will hold you accountable and won’t let you make excuses.
10) Give It Time
Learning to take care of yourself in the truest, most genuine way doesn’t come easy. And it doesn’t come fast. You’ll have good days and bad. We all will.
Self-Care For Christian Moms: The Takeaway
So, my conclusion? Self-care, although it sounds selfish, is actually not — when it’s the right self-care with the right motivation.
Maybe we should call it something else. I don’t know about you, but when I hear the term “self-care,” I automatically associate it with being indulgent and greedy. After all, God tells us to put Him first, then others, then ourselves.
But (and here’s where the line between society-influenced self-care and self-care for Christian moms is drawn) I’d argue that there’s a difference between putting our own selfish desires above others versus striving to care for ourselves so that we can be the best Christians, mamas, wives, sisters, friends, daughters, etc. we can possibly be.
So maybe instead of “self-care,” we should refer to it as “service prep” because by practicing the tips I mentioned above, we’re preparing our hearts for the service God has called us to.
No matter what name you want to give this process, sweet friend, don’t give up. Real self-care — the kind that brings you closer to God, improves your health, and lets you rest so that you can turn right back around and pour yourself into others — is so worth it.
Need a good book to enjoy during one of those bubble baths you’re going to start taking at least once a week? ;) Grab a sweet, clean romance here!