10 Self-care Ideas when you have no Money and no Time for Self-Care

Everywhere you look the experts are encouraging “self-care,” especially for women.  We want the benefits of self-care, but we don’t always know how to fit it into our schedule or life.

no time for self-care

I got to be honest though. Those moments I needed self-care the most, especially when my kids were young, the thought of making self-care was, well, downright stressful.

How in the world could I make time for self-care when I was barely surviving as it is? And how could I even afford self-care?

Because the self-care ideas I always heard to do were things like:

Go for a night away

Go on dates once a week with your spouse

Hire a babysitter and do something on your own

Go to the salon and get your hair done or get pampered

….and so on.

Those early years when the kids were babies and toddlers our budget didn’t allow for that. We couldn’t hire a babysitter. We also had children with high needs (as I shared a bit about that in my last post about highly sensitive children) and so not everyone was comfortable or had the patience to babysit children that had extra requirements.

I remember reading books, and hearing from others that my marriage wouldn’t survive if I didn’t go on a weekly date with my husband. (Spoiler alert:  our marriage DID survive and got stronger over the years, even without a weekly date night.)

Here’s the thing though. It’s not that I didn’t want to go on weekly dates. Heck, that sounded amazing to me. But it just wasn’t possible in that season of life.

But constantly feeling the pressure of needing to do these big things for self-care added to the exhaustion I was already feeling. I felt like I was failing as a mom, as a wife, and as a woman for not making time for self-care.

My kids are now a little older, but I’m still a mom which means much is still required of me day in and day out. And yet, I’ve finally learned I can make time for self-care in little ways.

Because we still can’t really do things like get away, hire a babysitter any time we want, or hit up the salon (I mean, it’s totally normal to get to the salon for a haircut every 4 years, right?) but I’ve since discovered that self-care for me in this season of life looks different.

Here are some of the ways to take care of yourself in a season of life where it feels impossible to make time for that kind of thing.


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I love any kind of book or podcast that encourages women. Sometimes after listening to one I feel like I can conquer the world – or at least the laundry. Podcasts and audio books are great because even if you don’t have time to sit down and read a book, you can listen to audio while you are doing something else.

I’ve listened to podcasts and audio books while I milk the goats, walk the dog, do the dishes, walk on the treadmill, or fold laundry. It’s a great way to take time doing something fun and encouraging for myself while still getting my to-do list done.  Audible is a great way to listen to books and you can try them out for free with their free trial.


Sometimes we can’t get away to the salon or out for coffee. If life is too busy but you feel like you could use some time on your own, run errands by yourself. Plan a time when your spouse is home or someone else is with your kids and do the grocery shopping on your own.

I especially enjoy the drive to the grocery store where I can have a time with no talking, or I can spend that time praying, or listening to my music at insane volume levels. Sometimes I just need a little while where no one is talking to me.


There are times I make sure I get enough sleep, and there are other times I stay up later than I should trying to get extra work done. I can tell you, staying up later than I should means I will feel it the next day. Learn to put the work away, or hit the stop button on the Netflix shows, or to even put that good book down in time to allow you proper sleep will go a long way in helping you have enough energy to get through the next day.

Sleep is what I like to call “basic self-care.” It’s cheap, it’s necessary, and we all can work to make it happen in our lives.


Bonus points if you can allow a little longer than 10 minutes, but I completely understand if you are in a season of life where you can’t even give 30 minutes to yourself. However, 10 minutes is doable.

For me recently I have decided I wanted to read more. It can feel impossible to make time to read so I make a point to read for 10 minutes a day. I don’t feel guilty or like I can’t give up 10 minutes – even if I have to lock myself in the bathroom to do it.

Maybe you want to watch a show, or make a craft but only have 10 minutes. It may take you a few days to finish your show or craft, but eventually you’ll get there by allowing yourself little pockets of time to spend doing what you love.


My youngest child had a serious vitamin deficiency when he was a toddler. I was in complete survival mode while he was at his sickest. There were days I couldn’t get ANYTHING done because he just needed me.

Sometimes I would give up on accomplishing anything in my day, curl up on the couch with him, and watch way too many episodes of Curious George.

Now that he is 7 I don’t regret those days I spent cuddled up with him because I got to spend time with him instead of trying to do everything else that needed to be done around the house.

The truth is, there were no lasting effects on not getting everything done, and yet, I was able to savor those moments with my child.


Do you constantly feel like you are being asked to volunteer at different activities or events but struggle to say no, even though you are barely surviving as it is?

Did you know, though, that when you say yes to one thing, you are actually saying no to something else. So, if you are exhausted and can’t find any time for yourself, you are saying no to freeing up time so you can take care of yourself.

Part of self-care is saying no sometimes. I can’t promise the people you say no to won’t be upset, but I can guarantee more than likely they’ll get over it, and you won’t be feeling bitter and frustrated when you are volunteering to help because you really didn’t want to do it in the first place and just need a breather.


I don’t know about you, but as much as I’d like to jump on the treadmill for an hour while I get lost in my music (or a podcast), there’s just no way I can make that much time daily at this time in my life. That’s not an excuse. As a homesteading, homeschooling, work-at-home mom that is the absolute truth.

If you can’t get on the treadmill for an hour, that’s okay. Exercising for 10-20 minutes daily can do a world of good for you.

Also reconsider what exercise looks like. Some days I’m able to get on the treadmill. Other days I spend a few hours in the garden digging up the ground, or walking back and forth across my two acres with hoses and wheel barrows and shovels.

If I’m working up a sweat, chances is I’m doing some functional exercise (or maybe I’m just insanely out of shape. 🙂 )

Other days I walk my dog. Exercise doesn’t look the same day in and day out.


I recently wanted to eat a little healthier, but let’s be honest – when life is super busy trying to make sure your diet is perfect feels daunting. When lunch is whatever handful of crackers, cheese, and leftovers you can grab and shovel down your hatch before you move on to the next thing, it can be tough to overhaul our whole diet.

So, while a whole new diet can feel impossible, adding one salad a day can feel doable. I have been eating a salad a day (usually at lunch time) and will basically make it from whatever I have in my fridge at that time. It’s quick to whip up, and I have been feeling better with eating more vegetables.

Of course, if salad is not your thing, you can always consider doing one smoothie a day. Instead of stressing out about what you should take out of your diet, just focus on adding one thing that is good for body food-wise.

If you want to take it a step further, after a month or so of doing one salad or one smoothie a day, make another change.


Sometimes I’ll feel really behind in life and then I’ll look around and see mess everywhere which just adds to the stress I am already feeling. It might feel like I don’t have time to clean up, but I find if I even take just 20 minutes to clean up an area of my home I feel so much better and like I can conquer more on my to-do list.

Sometimes when I feel paralyzed by everything I have to do and am discouraged, I’ll set the timer for 15 or 20 minutes and pick a room to clean. You’d be amazed at what you can get done in that time if you are focused and you’ll feel so much better afterwards.

Even though cleaning is not really time for yourself, it really is a part of self-care because many of us function better in a clean space.


I really believe setting up your atmosphere into a place that is peaceful and calm can do wonders for your soul.  I love to plug in my white twinkling lights, light my beeswax candles I made myself, and diffuse oils that promote feelings of relaxation.



We are all made so unique and different. What fills and recharges me isn’t necessarily what’s going to refuel you. You need to first determine the type of person you are so you can decide what self-care looks like for you.

For example, though I used to be very extroverted, I’m more introverted now. For me a big social gathering, while fun, can also be draining for me. I’ll come home from that event and feel emotionally spent. However, if I can get some time to myself, out in my garden, playing my guitar, or listening to a podcast by a blogger or write I love, that’s some serious self-care for myself.

Self-care shouldn’t feel overwhelming. Start some of the above self-care ideas that are small and can be slowly woven into your life. Add one new thing at the beginning, and when that is working well try adding another one.

2 thoughts on “10 Self-care Ideas when you have no Money and no Time for Self-Care”

  1. When our children were little I went grocery shopping alone one night each week. It was amazing to get away alone and be able to think straight at the grocery store. I still remember those nights fondly.

    1. Yes, i tend to do my grocery shopping on my own, though not always possible I am able to do it often. It definitely helps you save money too!

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