Preparing Your Environment for Self-Care

I spend a lot of time thinking about my daughter’s home environment:
How to keep her safe,
how to store her toys,
how to promote independence,
how to foster peace…

And I spend a lot of time preparing my husband’s home environment:
Little things like,
fresh sheets,
his favorite baked good,
a clean house to promote a relaxing weekend…

And I spend bursts of energy preparing for guests to enter our home.
Making things cozy,
running the vacuum,
lighting a candle…

I don’t do these things out of obligation.
I do them because:

I find satisfaction in the act of homemaking.
It’s like giving a quiet gift each day, to the people you most love.

dad reading to toddler in playroom no 1 dad hat

But a few months ago, it dawned on me:
…I’ve become an expert at preparing everyone’s environment
but my own.

  • HOW can I expect myself to suddenly snap into relaxation mode
    (when the opportunity arises),
    if I haven’t nurtured my own environmental needs?
  • And more importantly,
    WHY don’t I treat myself with the same love
    that I treat my family and friends with?

I realized:
It’s partly out of habit. I move so fast, I don’t slow down for myself.
It’s partly my inner negative self-talk about SAHM life. Such as:

I feel insecure about relaxing while my husband is working a traditional job.
I feel insecure about relaxing when other SAHMs are working during every scrap of alone time.
I feel insecure about spending money on my self-care rituals because I don’t contribute to our regular income.

But you know what I would say to my best friend,
if she confessed all those insecurities?

You’re special and you deserve to feel special.”

So I’m taking my own bestie advice,
and am slowly working on becoming a better homemaker for ME, too.

And it’s actually empowering me to feel more satisfied and relaxed throughout the day!
(It’s a work in progress, but)
I’d like to share what’s working for me right now, in the hopes that it might help you, too!

My Favorite Self-Care Homemaking Rituals:

1. Prepare your kitchen the night before

My husband helps me with this part every night! We tidy up the house together before relaxing in the evening, but when it’s time for bed, he does one last sweep in the kitchen, takes our dog outside to pee, and prepares the coffee pot to auto brew the next morning. I love waking up to a clean kitchen.

2. Make it easy to get dressed in the morning

It has been really helpful to keep a little dim lamp on top of the dresser so I can see what clothes I’m picking out without disturbing my husband (if he’s still sleeping). I also love when I’ve managed to stay on top of putting away laundry, so that I’m not digging through laundry baskets searching for my comfy clothes.

3. Open the Windows

First thing in the morning, I open the shutters in our living room and sip on coffee by a window. If the weather allows, I love to crack open a window and listen to the birds sing! On really nice days, nothing boosts my mood like airing the house. I open all the windows, turn on all the ceiling fans, and let the house breath for at least an hour. Sometimes I like to practice piano when the windows are open, and it makes me feel like I’m adding a spot of cheer to the neighborhood!

palo santo incense kit

4. Burn Palo Santo

This is new for me. Each morning, I’ve been burning a stick of palo santo while I journal and sip on coffee. The smell has grown on me, and while at first I felt silly and “new age-y,” I quickly came to appreciate the ritual itself as an act of self care. Plus, I really enjoy inviting an aura of mysticism into our space.

5. Turn Up the Music

We listen to intensely cheerful music in the mornings while we all get dressed and make the beds and prepare breakfast. Especially if we’re not in the mood. Music can turn my mood in about 5 minutes most of the time, so I force myself to crank up the tunes on our Google Home, and it WORKS. Lately I’ve been really enjoying Bollywood music in the mornings! It’s so lively and makes me feel like we live in an indie movie.

vacuuming with toddler

6. Clean the house for about an hour each morning

A clean house is vital to my mental health.  And I’m not naturally a “clean” person. So as soon as my husband pulls out of the driveway in the morning, my daughter and I clean for an hour, give or take. If she’s in an energetic mood, we choose tasks that we can do together, like wash the floors or fold laundry! But she’s a toddler, so sometimes that just AIN’T HAPPENIN.

Soon those days we use our baby carrier, and usually she’s happy for at least 30 minutes to watch me tidy up, vacuum, purge/organize stuff, etc. It’s been a huge help to my own mental health to get ahead of cleaning each day, and I actually really like that this routine helps me get moving in the morning. Otherwise I would inevitably just sit like a slug on the floor, sipping lukewarm coffee, staring, while my daughter delightedly rips apart a whole box of tissues. (And then I’d feel overwhelmed about cleaning them up.)

lavender essential oil now oil

7. Use essential oils

I use essential oils throughout the day, mostly because I love the smell. But I do think certain oils have a positive effect on my mood (especially lavender)! I’m not an expert, but I can share the 3 ways I use oils right now: diffusing, spraying as an air freshener, and pampering myself with DIY roller blends.

naptime tea self care for moms

8. Tidy up BEFORE putting your baby down for a nap (or quiet time, if your child isn’t taking naps anymore)

If there is ONE thing I hope you’ll try on this list, it’s this: Prepare your space for relaxing before you put your child down for a nap.

Naptime is sacred to me now, and if I don’t protect that time, my mental health really suffers. So to maximize that precious time, I typically give my daughter 5 minutes of quiet play time in her crib after meals, or before her nap. This allows me to scurry around the house tidying up messes, armed with a box of clorox wipes. And if I play my cards right, I even get to light a preemptive candle, select a tea to brew, and queue up a TV show.

…Now, my child is a human-being, not a mythical-1950s-angel-baby, so sometimes her 5 minutes of quiet playtime actually looks like (sounds like) 5 minutes of banshee-screaming. But I try to allow myself that 5 minutes anyways, and I call to her from other rooms as I clean, so she doesn’t get an abandonment complex (aka: so I don’t feel like a total monster). It’s okay to take 5 minutes so that you can be a happier Mom. Truly.

blooming tea glass teapot

9. Make a special pot of tea

My husband gave me a glass teapot and blooming tea for my birthday, and it transformed my naptime routine! I love the ritual of making tea for myself, and it feels so relaxing to quietly watch blooming tea unfurl. I don’t always use blooming tea because it’s expensive, so it’s a luxury that I break out on days when I need some extra TLC.

10. Stop reheating your coffee in the microwave

I know I just talked about tea, but as a Mom, and as a human, I drink a LOT of coffee. I got into this really gross habit of reheating the SAME mug of coffee multiple times. Because I am too busy to actually wait 60 seconds for the microwave to do its thing.

And then one day, it hit me: I would never EVER serve twice-microwaved-coffee to a guest! Or even to my husband! Or even to my enemy! Why oh why, can I not take 2 minutes to sling some fresh coffee grounds in the machine?! So now I make a fresh pot every afternoon before my daughter’s afternoon nap. That way, when I emerge from her nursery after a shocking nap-battle, I can immediately grab a fresh mug and lay down for a bit.

11. Keep single-serve baked goods in your freezer

I love to bake, but not every day. So I’ve gotten into the habit of freezing baked goods in small servings. I LOVE being able to thaw out a couple biscotti for myself in the afternoon, or warm up a glo bar in the microwave (recipe in this book), or even bake a little batch of cookies!

(If you haven’t been freezing your own cookie dough, you NEED to get on this bandwagon. Here’s a great resource)

sage goddess blend

12. Burn sage (or a candle) in your bedroom before bed

Sage is a new one for me. Like Palo Santo, I’m not sure how much I really *believe* in the energy-clearing part of smudging. But, I do enjoy the smell. And it feels good to participate in a proactive ritual all about making your space positive and safe. So every night before bed, my husband burns a little bowl of sage leaves for us and carries it around our bedroom. It honestly makes me feel extra nurtured that he does this for us, like he’s keeping us safe from bad dreams. It’s a little cheesy, I know, but I love it!

That was a LONG list, but I hope some of it inspired you to prioritize self-care in your homemaking routines! I actually put together a little worksheet that you’re welcome to download here: Printable Worksheet

self care homamking worksheet swift and bloom

It should help you reflect on your own self-care environment, and identify what makes you feel nurtured.

And of course, I’d love to hear tips from YOU in the comments! Thanks in advance 🙂



Leave a Reply

  • Hi Beth!! I really enjoy your writing style in these blog posts! Looking forward to more. I’m going to really try to implement some of your self care tips too. I’m not a mom but I really feel like some of your tips are little, easy to achieve if I make the effort and might totally help me. Thanks!! 😘

  • Boy did this post speak to me! I’ve always been the type of person who has to prepare her environment before “getting down to business”. As a working girl I had to get to work early enough to get “organized” and ALWAYS had a fresh flower on my desk. Sometimes I didn’t have any money to buy flowers so I would pick something along the side of the road!!!! Even now, 30 years later, like you I must have things “just so” before I go to bed. I’ve noticed my daughters keep flowers in their dorm rooms and like to “nest” as well. All this said–remember your friend Becky. Your sweet daughter will not remember how clean the house was but she will remember the things you did together and how you made her feel. Although it sounds like you are brilliantly carving out time to do what’s necessary for self care AND involving your daughter. You’re wise beyond your years. xo

    • Oh Susan, thank you for this heartfelt comment!! This makes me so happy! I love that you picked flowers for your desk. What a sweet scene to imagine.

      You’re totally right about Violet not remembering the state of the house, haha. Letting messes wait is a work in progress for me right now 😉

  • Wow! I am a 60 year old long past the baby phase and I work on my fiber business from home. I need this advice. I move through everything I need to do and then feel absolutely exhausted at the end of the week because I don’t do any of these things for myself. Thank you!

    • Oh Sheryl, thank you for letting me know this resonated with you! I totally get it. Before having Violet, I worked on fiber art from home, and it reeeeally sucks you into your own creative world!

  • what a beautiful post, thank you. And it’s a great reminder to slow down. Friday is my day-off from work. And whenever I make it a priority to start with a good cup of tea it’ll be a much better day. Just because I’m taking the time for myself and enjoying that tea.

  • I am staying at home with the kids tomorrow and can’t wait to try some of these! I am cleaning in the morning and finding my sage. I also feel so much better and calmer when the house is in order. It makes a huge difference! Thanks so much for sharing these.