Why Self-Care Matters For Moms

Updated May 8, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Many mothers feel overwhelmed and push the things that provide comfort and relaxation down on the list of priorities in favor of caring for their families. However, mental health experts emphasize self-care's importance for mental, physical, and emotional well-being. Stress is a typical human experience, and mothers often seem to have more than their fair share. Read on to learn how proper self-care can be a vital part of becoming the mother you want to be, the benefits it can bring into your life, how therapy can help you develop stress management skills, and some tips to help you start taking proper care of yourself. 

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Taking Care Of Yourself Lets You Take Better Care Of Your Kids

What Is Self-Care, And Why Does It Matter?

Beyond the essentials required for survival, humans need additional efforts for optimized well-being. For example, if you want to be more physically fit, you would exercise and eat a healthy, balanced diet. American Psychological Association researchers define self-care as the regular activities we use to meet our needs and safeguard our cognitive and physical well-being. 

“It is an essential component of stress relief and wellness. Making time for yourself may feel indulgent or selfish, but that is far from the truth. Even small acts of self-care or self-kindness can go a long way in decreasing the feelings of exhaustion, burnout, stress, and even depression that busy mothers often feel,” said the Mayo Clinic

Self-Care Benefits

  • Improve your physical health and reduce your risk of future medical issues such as heart disease, stroke, or diabetes by attending to all your body’s needs. 
  • When you feel healthy mentally and physically, you have more of yourself to devote to building and maintaining personal relationships with your family and friends. 
  • Self-care emphasizes your value, which can help boost your self-worth and self-esteem. 
  • Safeguard your mental health by building practical coping skills to manage stress. 
  • Reduce the impact of depression, stress, and anxiety symptoms. 

How Do You Define A “Good” Mother?

While the qualifications of what makes someone a good mother are entirely subjective, some common traits and qualities lend themselves to positive role models as parents. Characteristics such as respect, affection, patience, empathy, support, authoritativeness, and humility are generally considered positive in a caregiver. Self-care can help you find the balance necessary to provide all this and more for your family—often more efficiently and with less stress.  

Recognizing The Signs Of Postpartum Depression

Many mothers experience intense sadness, intrusive thoughts, and other psychological symptoms shortly after giving birth. While the “baby blues” are common after childbirth and may last up to two weeks, if your experience is more severe and lingers longer, you may have postpartum depression, or peripartum depression if it begins during pregnancy. 

Postpartum depression is not a weakness or character flaw but a complication of childbirth and the massive influx of hormones affecting body and brain chemistry. In fact, fathers and even adoptive or foster parents can experience postpartum depression after welcoming a new child to their home. Self-care may help you recognize the symptoms of a mental health condition early on, and seeking treatment can minimize the impact postpartum depression can have on your life and your family.

Postpartum Depression Symptoms

  • Severe mood swings and depression symptoms
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Sleeping too much or not enough
  • Intrusive thoughts of suicide or death—This requires immediate treatment
  • Anhedonia, or lack of interest in or pleasure from things you used to enjoy
  • Fear that you are a terrible mother
  • Thoughts of shame or guilt
  • Intrusive thoughts of harming yourself or your baby

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, help is available. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255 and is available 24/7, or you can text the word “HOME” to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line.

Why Moms Often Struggle With Self-Care

According to the experts at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), people may struggle with prioritizing their own needs and face challenges with self-care for various reasons. Often, mothers focus so much on meeting their children’s needs that they may forget to care for themselves properly. Ironically, you can provide the best care for your children when you first care for yourself. 

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Prioritizing Yourself Can Make You A Better Mother

Start with short and long-term self-care goals. Once you have those established and are proficient, create family-care plans, such as helping everyone connect emotionally or communicate effectively. While you may feel guilty for leaving the kids with your partner and locking the door so you can have a quiet moment to decompress after a hectic day, remember that taking the time for self-care allows you to present the best version of yourself to your family. Work on changing your perspective about self-care by considering how you want your children to approach their own mental and physical well-being in the future. 

Learning To Take Care Of Yourself

One of the central facets of self-care is learning how to manage your stress reactions to you can find the balance required to serve as a stable, attentive influence in your family dynamic. When your body and mind are strong and adequately cared for, you'll likely have plenty of patience and energy left to care for your family. 

Self-Care Tips

  • Sensory input from your five senses can help you manage stress in numerous ways. 
  • Make time to do things for yourself. Remember that you matter, too. 
  • Cross something you’ve been avoiding off your to-do list. Feeling overwhelmed is common, and some tasks become bigger in our minds than they are in reality. 
  • Center yourself through meditation, prayer, or time in nature, sorting through and understanding your thoughts and emotions. 
  • Develop your emotional intelligence to identify and understand your feelings and emotional literacy to express them adequately. 
  • Establish and maintain a balanced diet with regular physical activity and healthy sleep hygiene. 
  • Stay connected with your social network. 

Learn To Prioritize And Manage Your Time

You are only one person, and there is a limit to what you can do in a set amount of time. Prioritize your time, set realistic goals, and schedule your tasks efficiently so you get the most important things completed first. 

Establish An Array Of Practical, Evolving Coping Skills

Find healthy, practical ways to manage and overcome your stress. Knowing what makes you feel better helps you choose a helpful action in a tense situation. Pay attention to what works in different circumstances and build an array of coping skills to help you manage stress reactions. 

Model Positive Behaviors For Your Child

Children often mimic what they see, so show them how taking care of yourself should be part of their daily routine. Talk to them about it and keep the conversation going so they can evolve their self-care skills as they grow. 

Taking Care Of Yourself Lets You Take Better Care Of Your Kids

Helpful Tips For Becoming The Mother You Want To Be

Many moms are working to meet the standards of what they believe to be a good mother. While the finish line may differ for each one, the journey is often similar. Here are some helpful tips to ease the process as you work to become the mother you want to be.

  • Don’t compare yourself to others. 
  • Learn to identify the cause of your stress and unhappiness.
  • Develop and implement practical solutions to your problems.
  • Ask for help if you need it—both personally and professionally.
  • Take care of yourself first so that you can take care of your children. 
  • Maintaining social connections keeps you from becoming just “Mom.”
  • Remember that your kids don’t have a scoresheet. Everyone makes mistakes. The important part is teaching your children how to fix it afterward. 
  • Check-in with your kids and emphasize the importance of self-care and overall well-being from an early age. 
  • Celebrate your successes. Life is short, so take time to celebrate when you get it right. 
  • Remember your strengths and take advantage of them.  

Reach Out For Help

If you notice trouble taking care of yourself and consistently undervaluing your feelings, time, and well-being, you may want to contact a professional for support and guidance. Self-care requires effort, in addition to emotional intelligence (recognizing and understanding emotions) and literacy (communicating your thoughts, feelings, and needs)—all of which you can learn with a qualified therapist. 

How Therapy Can Help Support Your Self-Care

Mental health is a crucial aspect of your overall well-being, and therapy can be an excellent tool to help you care for your mental and emotional state. Many find that working with a licensed therapist online through a virtual therapy platform such as BetterHelp can be a convenient way to fit therapy into their busy schedules. With flexible appointment formats, frequently lower costs, and shorter wait times, online therapy makes treatment reachable to people who previously lacked options. 

Many therapists use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help patients identify and overcome harmful or maladaptive behaviors and thought patterns. According to a recent study, online CBT treatments can be as effective as traditional face-to-face therapy. Sometimes online treatment is more effective for patients who have never had therapy or are more comfortable in the virtual environment. The efficiency and duration of therapeutic outcomes increase with the number of sessions attended. Many patients said the convenience of therapy from home made it possible to participate in more sessions. Others said the added physical distance made sharing personal details with their therapists easier. 


You can care for your children better when you properly care for yourself. Simply put, self-care makes you a better parent and can be crucial to your overall physical and mental well-being. The information in this article may help you understand why self-care is essential and offer insight into practical ways to incorporate it into your daily routine. 

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