Self-Care Challenge - Make Yourself a Top Priority!

Image from Titus Dentistry

I was brushing my teeth a few evenings back and I was struck by a realization: I hadn't brushed them that morning. Eww! How could I forget something so basic, so routine, so important? Perhaps because I was busy feeding and dressing (and, yes, kissing and hugging) my son, driving my husband to the train station, running errands, preparing meals--all those things that moms do. And because taking care of myself was such a low priority that I just plum forgot.

That's not okay.

Women are nurturers, nourishers, and givers...often to everyone but themselves. Unfortunately, a woman's health and well-being may come last on her long to-do list. That's not okay, either.

The Full Belly Sisters' philosophy is this: if you don't take care of yourself, you won't be able to take care of anyone else. Here's an example my sister and I give when working with clients: flight attendants on an airplane always instruct you to put your own oxygen mask on first before putting on your child's mask. Otherwise, you could jeopardize your child's health as well as your own. And you don't want to do that.
Interesting that it's a dad in this graphic

So, let's spend seven days--that's all I ask!--focusing on taking better care of ourselves. Anyone can do this: you don't have to be a mom or a parent or a woman! Let's eat better, sleep more, stimulate our intellects and creativity, get our blood pumping through exercise. Let's treat ourselves more kindly.

I was kindest to myself when I was pregnant. I felt like the least I could do for the person growing in my body was to eat nourishing foods, to rest when I felt weary, to take the time to breathe and relax, to be gentle with myself. I remember--when my belly was big and round--I would take evening showers to soothe my aching body, then I would rub lovely-scented oils all over that belly. Part of this ritual was due to vanity (I was trying to avoid stretch marks!); a larger part was this newfound and deep respect I'd found for my body. I wanted to take care of me because that was the only way to take care of my baby.
My well-moisturized belly.
So, when you're thinking about this challenge, try to remember a time in your life when taking care of yourself and your physical and emotional health was a priority. What were your routines? And what elements of those past routines can you incorporate into your busy/stressful/overwhelming life now?

Pick a goal that is meaningful to you, one that motivates you and that doesn't seem too easy. You will rise to the challenge. And you will feel proud of accomplishing something that felt like it was maybe just a teensy bit out of your reach.

It'll be different for each of us. Some of us may want to take a 30-minute walk each day; others may aim to try new classes at the gym. Some may choose to cut out all sugar; others may put one less spoonful in their coffee each morning. Some may elect to go to bed an hour earlier than usual, to read instead of vegging out in front of the TV for hours; others may wake up an hour earlier in the morning, to do yoga or meditate or take a long (uninterrupted by children) shower. You may want to do something different for each of the seven days. Or you might want to join me in making sure you brush your teeth twice every day!

We'll officially kick off the seven-day challenge on November 1, after the mishegoss of Halloween and before the menu-planning mayhem of Thanksgiving. Start thinking about what your goal will be and what obstacles may currently be in the way of your meeting that goal.

Accountability can be a huge source of motivation. So, I ask you to announce your goal in the comments below (I'll announce mine, as well). Make it concrete; look at it when you find that you may be losing focus; let others here cheer you on. And, in seven days, come back and report on how you did: did you meet your goal? Or even exceed your expectations?

On each day of this challenge, we will post helpful tips, encouraging words, and small self-care "assignments," both here and on our Facebook page; we will also feature some special guest posts. It's going to be great. Join us!

Turn this challenge into an opportunity.

Update: Our Day One post is now up!
Update: Day Two!
Update: Day Three!
UpdateDay Four!
Update: Day Five!
Update: Day Six!
Update: Day Seven!


  1. Here are a few of my goals; I'm going to think about what else will be part of my personal challenge:
    -no internet after 9pm; it becomes a time suck for me and it gets in the way of my really decompressing before bedtime
    -the few hours that my son is at pre-school will be "me time" and working out at the gym will be a higher priority than running household errands or doing work; I can run the errands with my son after school
    -make sure to brush teeth two times each day (of course!) and remove any make-up before getting in bed

  2. For my week challenge I'm going to give up snacking between meals and will do both an AM and PM 2 mile dog walk!! 

  3. So timely. I've been thinking lately that I go without a shower too often and that I should start showering at night, after the kids go to bed. So that's one goal: to shower every night. The other is to get back to running. I'm doing a Turkey Trot, so it's easier to run when I have an event to look forward to.
    Thanks for the kick in the pants!! I needed it.

  4. Thank you for participating! We'll kick off in earnest on November 1 so get psyched :-)

  5. Ugh I could use this too right now in particular. For me it involves eating well every day and not just eating crap because i couldn't find time to make what I need. It also means asking my husband to take my son for an hour or two on the weekend so I can have a little down time. And finally I'd like to start walking again - 2-3 x a week. One week right? 

  6. Yup, one week. One week is a good way to figure out ways to fit these small - but vital! - things into your daily life. At the end of the week, you'll have a better idea of what your obstacles are and how to overcome them for the longer-term.

    Your goals are worthy ones. Get ready!

  7. Oh, and I might I suggest being very specific with you "eating better" goal? Perhaps something like "I will eat veggies and/or fruits as part of every meal or snack for seven days" or "I will only eat homemade, from-scratch desserts." The more specific you are, the easier it will be to focus on what you need to do (and to hold yourself accountable). Just a suggestion!

  8. I am in! I know immediately what I need to focus on for 1 whole week.
    1. I will be ready for bed and my little reading time by 10:30 every night - currently been up until 11-12+ many nights on the computer and this needs to stop so this is declared (and my husband thanks you)
    2. I am finally getting off refined sugar again - it has been 3 days so far. I know it affects my mood and makes me tired and b!tchy yet I crave it. I never last longer than a month as I get bored so need to find some new treat recipes that suit.  There is limited availability in Australia of no/low sugar foods (it is in everything here) and alternative sweeteners (which are costly if available)

    I am very good about taking time for myself, having a bath with burning oils if i want, etc but the eating and sleeping well (which really are the pillars of keeping my mood even) are often overlooked.

  9. I'm going to go with brushing teeth twice a day! And going to yoga twice. Cathy

  10. Deb - So glad you're going to be a part of this little movement of ours :-)

  11. Cool idea and glad you opened it up to men and women alike. My goal is to make sure I get some time to exercise everyday for a week, whether it's at the gym or jogging in my neighborhood. 

  12. Glad you're down for the challenge, Tom!

  13. Fabulous, glad you're joining in!

  14. Absolutely. I've been taking a me first approach lately. As long as everybody is fed and clean and warm. Then the laundry can wait so I can get a workout or a shower in. 

  15. My Goal, walk for at least 20mins and drink more water.

  16. Great! Enjoy your walk, chug-a-lug and hope to hear from you tomorrow, so you can report how Day One was for you :-)

  17. the tooth brushing story made me smile. my bathroom & bedroom is on the top floor of 3, and when i ended up with an emergency c section, added a spare toothbrush and paste into a jar in the kitchen so I didn't have to do trip back up stairs! Nearly four years later, I still have a back up set and would probably need to use it at least once a week from having forgotten while I was upstairs!

    Good luck everyone.

  18. Im with you. clean clothes in a basket are just as useful as away in a cupboard, even for a month at a time if needs be. 

  19. LOL, I'm glad to know I'm not alone, Wendy!


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