In the summer, your focus is on juggling kids, vacations, and your schedule, so it's easy to let self-care go. But now that the kids are back in school, it's time for moms everywhere to put the focus back on themselves. 

Fall can be a busy time for parents, but with your children out of the house during the day, it's also a perfect opportunity to check in with how you're doing and make some small changes to slow down and re-centre yourself before the even crazier holiday season arrives. 

Here are some five easy self-care tips for moms - they're simple yet effective, and are ideal for stay-at-home and working mothers alike:

1. Build 'serenity breaks' into your day 
With having to rush the kids to school, prepare for a work meeting or take care of a never-ending list of errands, it's easy to feel like you hardly ever get the chance to just breathe. Being able to catch your breath before diving head first into the rest of your day, however, is essential to your mental well-being. So instead of bouncing from one task to the next, make a conscious effort to check in with yourself throughout the day to have a cup of tea, read a couple pages from your book, get some fresh air or just breathe. Even just a minute or two of tranquility can have a big impact on your mood! 

fallPut the focus back on you this fall. 

2. Get back on track with good nutrition
The summer season has a knack for throwing unhealthy foods your way - the calories from all those barbecues, baseball games and trips to the ice cream stand add up. Fall's a great time to take stock of your eating habits and get your diet back on track. One way to make healthy eating easier is to start meal prepping. Making nutritious meals ahead of time doesn't have to be complicated. In just an hour on a Sunday night, you can cook enough whole-grain rice or quinoa, chicken and vitamin-packed vegetables to give you nearly a week's worth of healthy work lunches. 

Take a closer look at the ingredients in your favorite foods, too, as certain ones can cause your stress levels to spike. Sherry Torkos, a holistic pharmacist based in Ontario, recommends steering clear of processed and sugary foods to help keep your energy up and your anxiety down throughout the day.

3. Find little ways to be more active throughout the day 
In an ideal world, you might go for a five-kilometre run and do a Pilates class every day, but real life often gets in the way. However, regular exercise is essential to your health and well-being, so if you can't work out as much as you'd like, find little ways to be more active each and every day. Here are a few ideas:

  • Ride your bike to work if you can, or park farther away so you have to walk more to the office. 
  • Follow quick 10- to 15- minute workout videos on YouTube. 
  • Do a brief yoga routine or jumping jacks after you wake up or before you go to bed. 
  • Join a weekly class at a fitness studio conveniently located near your office or children's school. 
  • Go for a short run or complete a quick workout at the gym on your lunch break. 

4. Reconnect with your personal interests
Being a parent is incredibly rewarding, but it can also make you feel like you've lost touch with your personal interests. Spend some time each week - even if it's brief - participating in your favourite hobbies and activities, or discovering new ones. Painting, hiking, horseback riding, gardening, writing - whatever it is, make sure you spend time doing it! The result will be a happier, less stressed you this fall. 

"Spend some time each week participating in your favourite hobbies and activities."

5. Be kind to yourself 
You can make lots of goals to eat better, exercise more or make time for meditation, but if you beat yourself up every time you make a mistake, you're never going to make any progress, and you'll feel miserable in the mean time. Being too hard on yourself or participating in negative self-talk can also be reflected in how you parent - maybe you say something snappy out of frustration, or then criticize one of your kid's mistakes too harshly. 

So instead of beating yourself up over mistakes, take mother Robyn Polan's advice, which she shared in a post for the Healthy Moms Blog:

"Most importantly, I try not to get down on myself when I just can't get [a yoga class] done that day, because hey, we're all human. I like to think of this as self-care too, going easy on myself is just as important as making it to that yoga class."

Remember: Giving yourself a break is an act of self-care! With the tips above, you can re-center yourself this fall.