How to prioritize yourself in 2023

It can be super tough to find the time to prioritize yourself and take care of you in this crazy world – but it’s important that you do. Your mental and physical health are both crucial to your wellbeing, and neglecting either will lead to further problems down the road. This is something I know only too well from personal experience, putting everyone’s needs before my own only to crash into burnout.

The need to prioritize yourself becomes even greater when you become a mum, which sounds counterintuitive because of course your have little humans that need your love and attention. But if your cup is empty, then you will have nothing left to fill up their cup with. The truth is when we are feeling run ragged we are a far cry from the best version of a mum we could be.

So how can you prioritize yourself in a crazy world? Here, we share an extract from Mother Power by Poppy O’Neill which is packed full of advice on how to prioritize yourself, feel better and show your kids how women deserve to be treated.

Honest, empowering and inclusive, this feminist guide to motherhood aims to unpick the way mothers are supposed to be so readers can unlock their power, fully embrace motherhood and create a life that brings happiness, fulfilment and confidence. Drawing on feminist ideas about motherhood and research from parenting psychologists, Poppy shows readers how to ensure their wellbeing is a priority whilst being the best parent they can be.

Poppy O’Neill is a best-selling author of mental health books for children, teens and adults. Her books include Don’t Worry, Be Happy, Help Your Child Make Friends and You’ve Got This.


One in four mothers surveyed by Ipsos said they had less than 10 minutes per day for self-care. 89 per cent said they think women’s self-care is a sign of high self-esteem, and only two per cent think self-care is selfish. 

What does self-care mean for you now?

Before kids, meeting your own needs might not always have been easy, but it was a hell of a lot simpler. Even finding the time and headspace to figure out what those needs are feels like a bit of a luxury after having kids. 

This is your cue to spend a bit of time thinking about yourself. 

There are six main types of self-care: 

Type of self-careWhat it involves Examples 
EmotionalPerforming activities that help you reflect upon your emotionsTherapy, journaling, creative art 
Practical Tasks that are essential in day-to-day life that prevent stressful situations arising Creating a budget, organizing your wardrobe, doing your tax return 
Physical Activities that improve or maintain your physical healthPilates, walking, getting enough sleep
Mental Doing things that stimulate your mindReading, visiting a museum, puzzles
SocialActivities that strengthen relationships in your lifeMeeting friends, being part of a club, taking time to talk on the phone
SpiritualActivities that give you a connection to something bigger than yourself Meditation, self-reflection, yoga 

As you might have noticed, the boundaries between these different types of self-care can get blurred. Taking a yoga class can be physical, emotional and social self-care, for example. 

Think about what you need to feel good in all these areas of your life, and jot down your ideas in a journal. How are you taking care of yourself already and what areas of your life do you need to dedicate more time to?

Self-care while caring for kids

It’s become a cliché that mums of young kids can’t go to the toilet without the baby, toddler and dog in tow. But it doesn’t have to be this way!

As long as your child is safe, you can take care of your needs away from them, even if they don’t like it. Your child, no matter how old they are, is allowed to experience uncomfortable feelings. 

It helps to talk to your child – even if you think they’re too young to understand – about where you’re going and when you’ll be back. Learning that mum goes away and always returns is an important developmental process and going for a quick wee without them is a safe, manageable way to kick it off. 

Temporarily experiencing difficult emotions in a safe, loving environment where they are comforted will benefit your child in the long run, as well as strengthen their bond with other caregivers.

Of course, there are limits to this – for example, the age at which you feel comfortable leaving your child with a babysitter is hugely personal and not something to be rushed. It takes faith in your own judgement to strike a good balance between responding to your child’s emotions, keeping them safe and taking care of yourself. If taking care of yourself looks like staying with your child, then go with your gut.

Banish the word selfish from your vocabulary

When was it decided that putting yourself first was a negative thing? If you don’t put yourself first, nobody else is going to. And yet, so many of us were told as children that it was our job to put other people first in order to be accepted.

Never sticking up for yourself for fear of inconveniencing someone else might feel like it will win you friends, but all it really gets you is trampled boundaries and resentment. 

If you use the word selfish to describe yourself or anyone else, try adjusting the language you use:

I’m being so selfish I’m looking out for myself

She’s so selfish She’s good at standing up for herself 

That was really selfish of you When you did that, I felt overlooked

Meeting a friend for coffee instead of doing housework is selfish healthy

It would be selfish fair to ask my partner to take on more childcare

It might feel weird at first, but the words we use to describe ourselves and others have a big effect on our worldview. Slowly, the way you think about things will shift, and it will feel easier and more natural to prioritize yourself. 

Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation. – Audre Lorde

Why putting yourself first makes you a more capable mother

Your children need you more than they need any other human being in the world. This can be a daunting prospect, and the way many women deal with it is by putting their own needs and wants to the bottom of the list. 

But you need looking after too – adulthood and independence doesn’t mean having no needs, it means you’re in charge of getting your needs met. If you’re not taking care of yourself, you’re not taking care of the most important person in the universe (according to your child). 

When you take time and make use of resources to care for yourself – whether that means getting childcare, juggling weekend lie-ins with a partner or taking time for yourself while your kids watch some TV – you are not only recharging your own batteries, you’re giving them the gift of a well-rested, less stressed and happier mother.

Not only this, you’re also setting a good example of how to successfully and healthily be an adult. But beyond these not inconsiderable benefits to your children, you deserve self-care simply because you are a human being.

Nurture your female friendships

Perhaps you have a wonderful partner who you love spending time with. Perhaps you have a bunch of funny, kind male friends. Even if these things are true, there is no substitute for good female friendships!

Nurturing your female friendships is a powerful feminist act. Even if you have a female partner, platonic relationships with other women are essential to your well-being as a mother. Find a circle of women you can laugh, cry and empathize with, who understand what motherhood is like and you can be your true self around. 

Who has popped into your head when you read that? Text that friend right now and arrange to meet up.

It might take time to find your tribe, so don’t worry if you haven’t found a group of friends yet. It’s much better to have one great friend than a handful of women you don’t feel you quite fit in with. Be yourself, say no to what you don’t want and yes to what you do, and your people will find you. 

Schedule it in

By now you’ll hopefully have an idea of what you might want or need to do in order to care for yourself better. But when you look at your week, it might not be clear when exactly you’re supposed to fit it in.

If you have free time, that’s great – go ahead and schedule in some self-care right now. 

If, on the other hand, it’s not that simple, you’ll need to find time. This might mean letting other obligations go, finding childcare or asking for support from your partner, family or friends. Remember how important you are and reach out to others so you can make self-care happen. 

Be creative 

Depending on your individual set up, you might need to get creative in order to meet your needs and build a life that works better for you. When you’re juggling caring for others, caring for yourself is rarely simple. Not all self-care needs to cost money, require formal childcare or even take up big chunks of time. Here are some tips for thinking outside the box:

Look for small pockets of time in your day – could you fit in a regular five-minute stretch or a 15-minute nap?

  • Build habits of self-care, such as packing snacks and water for you, as well as your kids 
  • Keep a journal close-by, or write in your phone’s notes app, for safe, emotional venting while you’re with your children
  • Use your early mornings and evenings to grab a bit of alone time while the children are asleep
  • Maximize your self-care with any props that will make your downtime more enjoyable – for example, a great pair of running socks will make your morning run more comfortable, or a bath pillow to support your neck while you soak in the tub
  • Make good choices – grab a book instead of doomscrolling

Doomscrolling: also known as “doomsurfing” is the act of spending an excessive amount of time on your phone obsessively scrolling through negative news. 

Spotting burnout

Mother burnout is real! The work we do can be relentless and time for self-care isn’t always available. What’s more, when you’re already on a low ebb, doing things that will improve your well-being actually tend to become more difficult and it can feel like just another thing you’re failing at.

Here are some of the signs to look out for:

  • Escape fantasies
  • Resentment towards your children
  • A short fuse
  • Fatigue
  • Guilt
  • Never feeling good enough

If you recognize yourself in this list, there’s no shame in it. The well-being of mothers is rarely prioritized in our society, and we’re expected and encouraged to overextend ourselves and neglect our own needs. Take a deep breath and know that it doesn’t have to be this way. Have a frank discussion with your support network (away from the children) about how you’re feeling, even if you’re not sure what the solution is. If you’re concerned for your health, your doctor will be able to offer advice too. 

Summing up

Taking care of yourself is hugely important, but it takes effort to ensure you’re able to. Remember that:

  • You have needs and wants that matter
  • Taking care of yourself is good for your kids
  • Even if it wasn’t, you’d still deserve it
  • You have to make time for self-care or it won’t happen
  • Text your bestie

Read this: The Self-Care Solution by Julie Burton. A relatable book about the realities of self-care and motherhood, featuring the viewpoints of over a hundred mothers. You deserve rest, happiness and time to yourself.

Grab your copy of Mother Power at Amazon at the link below….


We’ve teamed up with Balmonds in this giveaway to win a special treat to prioritize yourself with! Balmonds is a fast-growing brand making creams, oils and balms for sensitive skin, using exceptionally nourishing natural ingredients such as hemp, chamomile, beeswax and shea butter.

Here’s what you’ll win from the Balmonds range:

Skin Salvation – our award-winning original hero product, 100% natural and made with hemp seed oil, beeswax, chamomile, calendula, chickweed and nettle biodynamic tinctures. Good for almost anything!

Bath & Body Oil – 100% natural body oil with hemp, chamomile and lavender, good for hydration or massage.

Intensive Facial Oil – a restorative blend of naturally calming and regenerative oils: rosehip, lavender, chamomile, palmarosa, safflower

Natural Shampoo & Body Wash – an exceptionally gentle all-purpose wash for little ones or their mamas, made with natural cleansers and herbal extracts

Intensive Hand Cream – rich in EFAs such as sea buckthorn oil, hemp seed, shea butter and chamomile

Omega-Rich Cleansing Oil – all-natural cleansing oil to remove make-up and the daily grind! No fragrance, no essential oils, just incredibly gentle oils like rosehip and calendula.

Enter on our giveaways page


  1. What a nice article with some good advice. I mean, I’m a stay-at-home dad so relevant to me. Thanks for the giveaway, although to be honest, I’ll give the bundle to my wife (but that’ll get me brownie points, so I hope I do… ). Thanks for your generosity!

  2. I love to have a candlelit bath to de-stress and read alot of spiritual books when I get chance as I find them really inspiring x

  3. It is sad in some societies, people are brought up to be obedient, self sacrificing and suppressing their emotions, like Japan. But I learnt from first hand how detrimental it is to one’s health and mental health if you don’t fulfil your own needs

  4. I’m all about positivity and self control all year round, so every day is a resolution to me (well I try anyway).

  5. I could have done with some of this advice when I had children at home. Coupled with working in a demanding job and studying I never seemed to manage any time for myself. Now retired I luxuriate in the many hours I have to indulge my passions for exercise, reading and touring in our campervan with hubby all year round. I think it was those earlier struggles that make me appreciate all I have now.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.