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Realistic Self-Care Ideas for New Moms – Inexpensive & Practical

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Inside: Self-care is SO important for brand new moms, but so many mom self-care tips seem out of reach. That’s why these self-care ideas for new moms are realistic, inexpensive and practical. Because you not only deserve to take care of yourself, you need to.

I can remember it so clearly: it was December, and I needed a few Christmas items at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. My twins were about 8 months at the time, and I snuck out after I had put them to bed.

While I was shopping, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror – and I actually jumped back in horror when I realized that I was seeing a reflection of myself.

I was unrecognizable.

No makeup. Bags under my eyes. I’m pretty sure there was spit-up in my hair and on my clothes.

A year prior to this, I was a glowing pregnant woman, stylishly dressed for my teaching career… never in a million years would I have left the house looking the way I did that night.

What in the world had happened to me? 

Related: Self-Care During Pregnancy – 9 Activities That Are Super Basic & Inexpensive

asian new mom writing in journal for self-care

Motherhood and Self-Care Go Together? Really?

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Motherhood. That’s what. Motherhood without self-care, to be more specific.

Y’all, my sons were a late-in-life gift from God after miscarriage and infertility, so I would take looking like a hobo over being a fashionable, childless woman any day of the week.

But does it really need to be either/or? Isn’t there a way to maintain some semblance of personhood and womanhood while being a mom in those early days?

Sisters, yes. Definitely yes.

I didn’t know that at the time, but to strip it down to its barest truth: one of the best ways you can love your sweet infant baby is to take care of yourself.

I know it’s not always convenient and sometimes it feels impossible. I get it – I was a mom of newborn twins with no family around to help. 

However, it is critical that you practice some kind of self-care as a mom, especially a mom of a newborn baby who relies on you for his or her every single need.

Related: How to Survive Those First Few Weeks With a Newborn

blond white new mom holding newborn baby in arms and smiling

15+ Practical Self-Care Ideas for New Moms

Today, I want to talk about what’s doable.

You’ll see lots of mom self-care tips telling you to take spa days or have a day to yourself at a hotel. If you can do that, fantastic. 

But I know many moms can’t do things like that for various reasons, so I want to share practical ideas that actually seem reachable. It doesn’t have to be a spa day or nothing.

Self care doesn’t have to be hours on end every day.

Even if it’s a few minutes every day – or a little longer than that every few days – it’s a time for you to recharge. It’s doing something you enjoy, something for you, something where you’ll feel energized and ready to return to your family.

Every woman is different. All of our needs are different. The key is to pay attention to how your feelings, your emotions, and tuning in to what you need to feel more like yourself, more taken care of.

Here are 15 self-care tips for moms of babies that anyone can do, regardless of resources, time, or budget restrictions.

1. Go for a walk every day.

Walking was one of the best things I did with my boys when they were babies. Not only was getting out to walk good for my health, but it was amazing for my sanity.

Time to quiet my brain, time to think if I wanted to think, time to not think if I didn’t want to think, time to pray. I brought my boys everywhere – parks, trails, random neighborhoods (with flat streets and lots of shade), the mall when it was cold.

Even if it was just to get me dressed and out of the house, going for a walk gave me a little purpose. Most babies are amazing in the stroller, and I counted that as me-time.

And not to mention that it helped me lose some of the baby weight, which was also good for my mental and emotional health.

2. Go for a drive.

Most of the time, this was just to get myself out beyond my four walls and have a reason to get dressed. Honestly, you don’t even need to get dressed if you don’t want to.

It’s time to just have quiet headspace, to think, pray, play your favorite music, listen to a podcast or an audiobook. Babies will often sleep in the car, so a drive is perfect to get some time to yourself.

P.S. Grab something through a drive-thru and pull over when baby is asleep. Food you didn’t have to make in a quiet car. It’s seriously amazing.

3. Rest.

If you’re able to take a nap while your baby naps, that is brilliant. But even if you sit on the couch and close your eyes and just do nothing – that counts as rest as well.

  • Watch a favorite TV show,
  • Reading a chapter in a book,
  • Zone out and stare at the wall.

By all standards, be totally unproductive for at least 20-30 minutes a day. A time when you’re not required to think and can give your brain a rest. Just be still.

4. Get up before the baby.

I’ll be honest  – every second of sleep was so precious, I struggled with this one. But I will say that, 100%, my day went better when I was up before my twins, when I had a few minutes to myself before I was on-duty for the next 12-14 hours.

To sit with my thoughts. To drink my coffee while it was still hot. To pray. To plan my schedule.

A few minutes alone set me up for a much more successful day. 

5. Or don’t get up before the baby.

Does getting up before the baby really really really not feel like self-care? Then don’t do it!

Seriously. You get to choose. Figure out which of these two options makes you feel like your best new mom self.

You can absolutely have a successful morning routine without waking up before your baby.

6. Get out of the house alone.

This doesn’t have to be fancy, but just having space where you are not responsible for your child will help you so much. It might be window shopping at the mall or browsing through a magazine at Barnes and Noble. It might even be sitting in a parking lot, scrolling on your phone. Leaving the house without all the gear and responsibility, just that little bit of freedom, will energize you. 

7. Communicate with your spouse.

The stress of a new baby can really wreak havoc on your marriage, especially if you can’t or don’t prioritize communication.

Don’t be afraid to communicate with your husband regarding your needs or wanting a break or where you’re struggling. That doesn’t make you a bad mom; you aren’t abandoning your baby. 

If you need to go to Target just to walk around with an empty shopping cart or if you need to sit in Starbucks for an hour, share that with your husband.

Maybe you just need him to take care of the baby every morning so you can shower, get dressed, and put makeup on, if that makes you feel better.

Think through how he can help you take care of yourself – and ASK for THAT.

8. Take care of your appearance.

As I shared in my opening story, I was not good at this at all. But I suffered for it. 

I think most women will agree that when we are cleaned up and dressed, we feel better about ourselves.

I’m not talking about being a fashionista mommy or looking like you’ve been to the  hair salon and seen a makeup artist. But I encourage you to take care of the basics:

  • Take a shower at least every other day.
  • Get dressed.
  • Wash your hair more than once a week.
  • Put on a little makeup if you can. 

It’s important to note that you aren’t doing this for anyone else. You are doing this for YOU. 

I can tell you that as a stay-at-home mom with sons who are 6-years-old now – I feel worse, I’m in a worse mood, I’m in a worse state of mind, when I feel frumpy.

My mood and outlook is so much better when I’m showered, out of my pajamas and in real clothes, with a little bit of makeup on. This isn’t about your appearance – it’s about feeling good.

If you feel like you look presentable and attractive, you’ll actually feel good.

Trust me. I felt horrible when I saw myself in the mirror at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Don’t be me.

9. Get out in nature.

There’s something about being outside of the isolation of your house and into nature that feels like freedom. The disconnect from technology. From the pile of laundry. From the clutter of toys and baby gear.

Fresh air. Warm sun. Vitamin D. Even a brisk wind in the winter. Nature grounds you. Makes you feel alive.

Make it a point to get outdoors and leave your house, even if the baby is with you. Explore those local areas that you never had time to when you were working full-time.

Nature truly is a gift from God to us. It’s free. Available to all. Take advantage of that. 

10. Find a hobby, or make time for one you already love.

When we become moms, sometimes we feel like that’s all we are and we forget who we were. A hobby can reignite that part of yourself that has gotten buried.

If there was a hobby you loved before you had your baby, see if there’s a way you can continue with that. Or if there’s a new hobby you’ve always wanted to try, give it a go.  

I’ll be honest – you may not be able to devote all the time and energy to it that you wish you could. But even doing it for short amounts of time here and there, in those margin times, is beneficial.

Crafting, crocheting, scrapbooking – any of those are great to get your creative juices flowing. 

For example, I have always loved writing. I started my blog for fun when my boys were babies, more of just a creative outlet.

But now it’s my job. So, you never know where those mommy hobbies will end up.

11. Pamper yourself.

I know. It might not be in the cards for a massage or a full-on spa day. But getting your hair cut or highlighted, getting a mani-pedi (even just one of those), helps to make you feel a little bit more like your former self.

You can even do some pampering at home: a facial, painting your nails, curling your hair.

I even count a bubble bath as pampering. Whatever it takes to make you feel more feminine will be so beneficial.

12. Connect with your people, in person if possible.

Who are the ones in your circle that you can lean on? This may mean the one you can call for a last-minute sitter, but it’s more than that. It’s so helpful to have those friends and family members you can text with or reach out to throughout the day. 

The idea is to not isolate. We can so easily get lost in the overwhelm when we feel like we are alone.

Find your people and connect on a regular basis with them – to vent, to share a funny meme, to get some mommy advice. 

If you don’t have anyone like that in your life, check Facebook or Peanut for some local mom groups. Look into mommy meet-ups at local churches.

Trust me, your people are out there. 

13. Use a meal prep service of some kind.

This might seem like a luxury, but as a new mom, you’re so overcome with tending to your baby’s needs that you almost completely miss your own. And it’s soooo important that you eat healthy, nutritious food, not just leftover Cheerios and Goldfish, for your own energy and health. 

If cooking feels overwhelming with all you have to do, get a subscription for a meal prep service. There are all kinds of plans from places like Hello Fresh or Blue Apron – ranging from sending you the ingredients to cook yourself to having the entire meal prepared.

Even if you do this for a few months until you get your feet back under you, this is definitely self-care. Many offer free trials – take full advantage of that!

If meal prep services aren’t for you, consider getting a Costco membership and taking advantage of the prepared and frozen foods. It’s life-changing.

14. Listen to podcasts

This isn’t something that I did until my boys were older, and I definitely wish I had started sooner.

There’s something about learning a new topic or digging into current events or even just educating yourself about parenting and motherhood that is so empowering. It helps you feel less alone, smarter, and just like a more well-rounded person.

This is a double benefit in that it also makes you a wonderful example to your child in addition to equipping you with all kinds of skills and information that you can put into practice in your real life. And that makes you an even better mama for your baby.

15. Indulge in a little retail therapy.

OK, I know, some might frown on this one – and I’m not saying you should go whole hog shopping here. However, picking up a little token here or there can brighten your mood.

It can be something simple and inexpensive like a new candle or a fun pair of socks or hair accessory. A favorite treat at the grocery store.

A little makeup splurge at the drugstore. A piece of clothing that fits your in-between body.

It can even be an unexpected bargain from the clearance aisle at Walmart. Something that makes you smile. 

Agreed, possessions can’t buy happiness, but sometimes a little gift for yourself can connect you to that part of you that has interests and tastes and preferences.

Indulging in that from time to time can get you through some of those days or weeks in the weeds of motherhood (the dopamine hit doesn’t hurt either).

Related: Struggling with Body Image After Baby? 7 Things You Need to Hear

16. Keep one room or space tidy.

It might not be possible to keep a clean house that was up to your pre-baby standards, but having one clutter-free room or even corner can be a real life-saver.

That might be the kitchen or your favorite armchair and side table. Whatever it is, prioritize tidying it right before bed.

Clear the surface(s), and throw away trash. Put away any stray items.

Make it a place you look forward to seeing in the morning.

Related: How to Manage Housework with a Baby – Super Simple Tips

17. Pray, or journal.

I know not every woman is religious, but I’m sharing this because this honestly was the most helpful thing for me as a new mom. I KNEW I couldn’t do it all on my own. The responsibility I felt was overwhelming. 

Knowing that I could pour my heart out to God, share my burdens, receive His love and grace as well as supernatural strength that was beyond myself was life-altering. It changed how I saw motherhood. It changed the mother I was growing into.

Even on the toughest and most discouraging days, I knew I had strong arms holding me up and tender shoulders to unload on.

mom practicing self care by preparing to go for a drive with her baby

The Necessity of Self Care for New Moms

I know it can seem overwhelming to even consider yourself when you’re up to your neck in motherhood demands in those early days. I hope I’ve presented a convincing case of why this is a must.

It’s not to put more pressure on you  – but the truth is that taking care of yourself IS taking care of your baby. No question.

There are so many ways to do this that can fit in with your lifestyle and budget, whether you have help or not, whether you have a lot of time or not, whether you have a lot of money or not.

Intentionally adding in one or more of these ideas every day – or even every few days – can make a huge difference in your mental, physical, and emotional health.

Don’t delay, mama. You are worth it. And your sweet little one needs the best version of you as well. 

You’ve got this. I hope these self-care tips for moms help you stay sane in those early weeks and months!

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