Self Care Ideas for Moms Who Appreciate the Outdoors
We talk a lot about kids and families around here, but self care for outdoor moms is extremely important. It might, in fact, be the MOST important. Prioritizing that relationship by focusing on our own needs and desires can be difficult when balancing a thousand competing demands on our time.
But self-love and caring for ourselves is also vital to being able to be fully present and engaged with our families. It also gives us the mental and physical energy to plan and execute the outdoor adventures we love to go on!
Self care practices that help us to be more fully present in our bodies and minds then can be a necessary way to survive as a parent, especially as a mom.
Cultivating a sense of self-love doesn’t mean being selfish or putting yourself first; quite the opposite, really. By resisting burnout, we can show up more fully and actively for our families and our communities.
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Smile, Breathe, Go Slowly
At the time I’m writing this post, the world recently lost the Vietnamese Buddhist monk and “father of mindfulness,” Thich Nhat Hanh. One of his most famous mantras is to “smile, breathe, and go slowly.” I think about this a lot—not least because my partner has it tattooed on his forearm!—but also because it is something I constantly need to remind myself.
In our modern society of go-go-go and the desire to be the best, the fastest, and the most accomplished, it’s important to remember that the path to joy and fulfillment often begins in our bodies and breath.
You’re doing a great job
I think it’s important to distinguish between the artificial smiles of the “toxic positivity” movement and a deeper acceptance that leads to a sense of calm amidst a chaotic environment and uncertain future. To get to this place of acceptance is not just about putting on a happy face, but also requires grappling with other difficult emotions, like feelings of inadequacy and shame.
It’s a struggle, especially as an outdoors-focused mom, when social media makes everyone else’s adventures seem better, more exciting, more impressive.
But we know that every day is not a grand adventure, and even just walking outside for deep breaths and a little puddle splashing on a rainy day still “counts.” Be kind to yourself, because more often than not, you are doing the absolute best job you can given the circumstances. And if sometimes you aren’t, that’s ok too!
Living and going slowly through life is a hard one to manage, especially in our modern world that emphasizes go-go-go. I always want to say yes to everyone and everything, because otherwise I get serious FOMO.
I’ve had to force myself to remember that some of the best memories we make on the trail, at the campsite, or even at home in our background are the ones when we are relaxed and our kids are engaged in free play.
Giving them the space to get into that mode requires not cramming too much into our days, and this can sometimes mean saying no to certain after-school activities or other obligations that consume too much of our family time.
The slower life also relieves a lot of my own stress and anxiety, and makes me feel less like a bus driver delivering children all over town.
Self Care Ideas for Moms Who Love the Outdoors
Find beauty everywhere
One challenge I have had in being an outdoors-focused mama is finding the beauty in my surroundings. Unlike some of the other TMM team members in gorgeous Montana or Alaska, I live in central Texas: dry, kind of brown, no mountains, snow, or vast forests.
But I’ve tried to embrace the rough beauty in the Texas Hill Country where I live and explore, developing a sense of gratitude for where I am right now and all I can do here.
Like I find the beauty here in Texas, I also strive to embrace my body in a society that tells women they need to be skinnier, flatter, smoother, softer. Wearing clothing that allows me to accept my body as it is, rather than as I want it to be, helps me to cultivate body positivity and focus on the things it can do, rather than how it looks.
One way I try to meet my body where it is now and not in some dream future is wearing clothing that fits well and is comfortable to move and simply live in. Like many of the other team members at TMM, I have been loving my lululemon gear: in fact, I wear my Scuba Hoodie so often that my daughter’s friend asked me if I owned any other jackets!
I also wear a lot of leggings because between work from home and running after kids, you can’t beat the ease and fit of leggings. Lululemon’s tights are high-rise and super flattering for a variety of different bodies. We recommend sizing up (maybe even 1-2 sizes larger) because they do run fairly small. For working up a sweat, the breathable Wunder Train Tight is wicking and fast-drying.
I also love my Align High-Rise Shorts for everyday wear, hiking, and working out. They are so soft, yet handle outdoor exploration without snagging or getting holes. These come in a variety of inseam lengths (4″, 6″, 8″ and 10″!) so you can find a pair to fit your comfort level.
Get outside, however you can
For me, self-care often looks like time spent outdoors. I feel more present with myself when I’m in open air, and I am a calmer and more patient mom too. The normal (and developmentally appropriate!) things my kids do that may annoy me indoors becomes mere background noise when we are outside.
Fresh air and especially natural light in the morning hours can also help set our circadian rhythms, waking us up and helping us to fall asleep at a reasonable hour when it gets dark.
“Everywhere we’ve lived I’ve found people to go running with in the early mornings (whether it be an established running club or people in my neighborhood). It gets me up and outside early, gives me people to socialize with and starts my day off with me in the best mood. I love the accountability that comes with getting me out the door early (especially in winter) when I know we’re all bracing the cold together.”TMM Member Stephanie
Many of us are working remote jobs right now, if we have the privilege to do so. During my workday on the computer, I like to find ways to work outside. In warmer weather, I set up my office outdoors as often as possible.
Of course, if it’s too cold, rainy, or windy, there’s no getting around hauling your laptop outdoors or typing with gloved hands; this is definitely one situation where the Scandinavian saying “no bad weather” does not hold true! When I was living in Sweden, I would take advantage of rare afternoon sunshine, cracking open the door to get some crisp, cold winter air on my face as I typed.
For those of us working or caring for children at home, lululemon Scuba High-Rise Joggers make a perfect “lounge-at-home” to walking around the block or playing outdoors with kids option. They are soft and comfy, but dependable and warm, too.
Take time away from kids
Again, this can be an “easier said than done” with COVID shutting down childcare facilities and virtual school becoming more common than we’d like it to be.
Especially for single parents or those on a tight budget, time away (that is not spent working) is a luxury. However, creative solutions—swapping childcare with a fellow mom or taking advantage of “kids’ night out” programs at a local community center—can help find time to be yourself outside of parenting responsibilities.
“Alone time with tea and meditation early in the morning, hike with close friends.”TMM Member Jen
And of course, if you have a partner, try to let go of the guilt of leaving kids at home with the other parent while you go on a solo adventure. I have a local friend that I’ve started going on kid-free backpacking trips with when our kids at with their dads, and they are magical.
Night hiking or swimming in the river without worrying about children and safety precautions is remarkably freeing (especially when you pack in a bottle of wine!)
If a night alone is not possible, even a solo hike, ski, or paddling trip can recharge your batteries and help you cultivate that relationship with yourself.
“Solo hikes are so awesome!”TMM Member Stephanie
Outfit yourself for adventure
One key to staying warm and comfortable on your solo mama outings is good gear. We are huge proponents of investing in not only quality children’s gear for outdoor adventures but for yourself too. I often forget myself when I shop for gear, especially since so much of the kids’ stuff is much cuter! That’s why I love lululemon’s line of active- and outer-wear: functional, high-quality, and flattering.
I am also a huge fan of patterns and colors, and lululemon often has a wide range of colors to fit any taste: for example, the Hotty Hot shorts are currently available in 20 colors! The Hotty Hot shorts are lightweight, quick-dry, and lined, which makes them a great choice for running or warm-weather hiking.
For outdoor running or hiking in cold weather, the Cross Chill Jacket keeps you warm and dry with its water repellent fabric.
Follow your own passions
Make time to follow your own passions and set your own goals outside of your family. This can look like anything that gets you excited and helps you feel more like your best self. Whether it’s competing against others or yourself, setting goals and giving yourself permission to get out there and go for it is a great first step.
“I always feel better after workouts or running. Half the battle is starting, but I never regret it!”TMM Member Jami
Create small rituals for your body and mind
If finding a large chunk of time or space away from your kids and family is too difficult at this stage in your parenting life, carving out small moments for yourself can set a foundation of wellness. This can look like putting on headphones and listening to your favorite music or podcast while you clean or go for a walk (drown out some of the kid chaos) or taking a long, hot bubble bath during nap time or after kids are asleep.
“This is going to sound super obvious, but for me, lately it’s been as simple as taking care of my skin. Winter this year has been rough on my face and I recently started taking care of it by using some nice oils to help moisturize.”TMM Member Rita
Another somewhat minor change that can make a huge difference is wearing a good-fitting and comfortable bra, for those of us who need one. I am so bad at this one, wearing the same, cheap sports bras for years and years before realizing how loose and worn out they have become. Bras are not that expensive, but can make a world of difference for how your body feels when working out, hiking, doing yoga, or running.
Lululemon makes it easy to find a bra that will suit your body and your needs: from low-impact bras meant for yoga or daily living, to medium-impact for training or hiking, to high-impact for running. They also organize their bra selections by “support” with higher support for larger cup sizes to lower support for smaller-chested folks, with medium support for those in the middle.
The Flow Y Nulu Bra is a low-impact, light-support bra designed for yoga and for smaller cup sizes, while at the other end, the AirSupport Bra is a high-support bra for larger cup sizes and designed for running. While on opposite ends of the impact-support spectrum, both bras are stretchy, breathable, sweat-wicking, and made with buttery soft fabric.
Finding joy in yourself
We are living in difficult times, and finding joy can be incredibly hard amidst the challenges. Focusing on your self, your passions, and your needs can go a long way toward feeling more deeply like yourself when things are tough. I know simply stepping outside in the sunshine and taking a slow, deep breath can reset my mood.
“…taking a moment to focus on my breathing when an app on my watch prompts me.”TMM Member Jen
Setting aside time to be myself and not just “Mom/mama/mommy” also allows me to cultivate a sense of self-love, and for many of us, there is no better place to do that than outside in comfortable and quality gear.
- Get Outside with lululemon — for other great lululemon gear that we have worn, tested, and love!
- Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude
- Getting Over Mom Guilt and Taking a Wilderness Mom-Cation
Self-Love for the Outdoor Mama
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