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10 (cheap and easy) ways to pamper yourself

Pink Lady or Pink Ashley

Let’s face it. If you’re a mom, you’re busy. It doesn’t matter what you do with your time: whether you work or stay home, volunteer or home school, cook up a storm or craft, not to mention driving the kids from activity to activity. Being a mom is the definition of being busy.

That means you need a little pampering here and there. But who has the time? If you have a free moment, an extra load of laundry could get done. You could finally repair the tear in Johnny’s soccer uniform. Or you could even, you know, spend some time with your husband.

Plus, it’s so expensive. $20 for a dinner out with the girls? You could feed your entire family for two days – all three meals – on that. For these reasons (and more), mom-pampering-time often gets overlooked.

But what if there were ways to pamper yourself that were truly simple? Ways that were very cheap or even free, which did not require large amounts of time or advance planning? Would you do it then?

I’m betting yes. And if your answer is, “Well, maybe…” then you need to think harder about this. If you’re busy trying to be Super Mom, you need a break. You deserve a break. You’ll feel happier and saner and bring that positive energy back to your family.

So let’s get to the good stuff! Here are ten ways to pamper yourself that are cheap and easy.

1. Call a friend to catch up.

Is there someone you haven’t talked to in awhile? Put the kids down for a nap (or “quiet time”) and give her a call. Save it for the weekend if you have to and make your husband take the kids out to play for awhile. Enjoy a nice, long chat that’s mostly about your friendship, not your kids. Feel happy because you’ve remembered old parts of yourself and gotten a verbal hug from a friend.

2. Have a cup of tea (or coffee).

Photo by Kay Yuen

You might do this every morning, but do you really enjoy it? Set out to enjoy it this time. Choose a nice-flavored beverage instead of the plain-old usual stuff. Take it to a comfortable spot and just sip it and enjoy it. It’s not about waking up, getting your caffeine fix, or simple hydration. No, it’s about a quiet moment with a soothing, delicious drink. Variation: wait till the kids are in bed and make it an “adult” beverage.

3. Take a warm bath alone.

When was the last time you took any form of bath or shower alone? I know if I take a shower when my kids are awake that at least one of them will undoubtedly join me. This time, it’s just for you. Do it after the kids are in bed, or while your husband promises his very best to keep them occupied elsewhere. Make the bath warm, add some bubbles or herbs to make it fancy, light a candle, turn on some music, bring a book. Or just take a nap. But enjoy your bath and remember: no kids allowed!

4. Have tea and cookies with a friend.

Remember those days of long, uninterrupted face-to-face conversations over tea or coffee? And how they’re so far gone now? Well, find an afternoon where you can join your friend – at your place or hers, or at a local coffee house if you prefer – alone to talk and share a snack. Catch up and enjoy the silence and ability to remember what you’re saying because you’re not worried that Johnny is going to climb on the nearby table to get that oh-so-interesting house plant.

5. Wear a fancy outfit on a regular day.

A lot of moms get to the point where they just wear sweat pants and t-shirts all the time. Make-up? Who has time? And fancy clothes seem impractical. Maybe they are, but don’t you feel pretty and happy in them? So choose a day when you’re not going to be making too much mess (read: the day you start the garden or finger painting during playgroup are not good days) to dress in a pretty outfit. Do your hair, put on make up, wear earrings. Who cares if you, your husband, and your children are the only ones who see you? You’ll feel happy and confident just knowing that you look good, and that you have beaten that silly stereotype about moms who “let themselves go.” At least for today.

6. Buy a treat just for you at the grocery store.

Photo by Martin L

At the store, you probably spend a lot of time buying treats for your kids – or saying, “No, we are not buying that package of cookies!” But when the kids aren’t looking, sneak a special treat into the cart, just for you. It could be ice cream, or your favorite fancy cheese, or some lox for your Sunday bagels. It doesn’t matter; choose whatever you like the best but never buy for yourself. Then enjoy it before the kids get up or after they go to bed. I used to love doing this when my husband had guy’s nights and my kids were asleep!

7. Watch your favorite show in peace.

This was my other favorite thing to do on my husband’s guy’s nights. I get the remote to myself?  Get comfortable, grab your favorite snack, and settle in to watch whatever you love best, alone. And if it’s a love story, it might just make you sappy and sighing and excited about how much you love your husband and your children. That can only be good, right?

8. Read a good book (or magazine).

Who has time to read? But make the time. Take it in that bath with you, or just read during nap time or after your kids are in bed for the night. Sit back and get lost in the fantasy world of a novel, or just someone else’s life (like in a magazine). Make it a fun read, though — parenting tomes don’t count. I read a chapter a night of my current favorite book and it helps me relax and sleep.

9. Have an at-home date night.

Okay, this isn’t completely about you. But most women complain they don’t spend enough time with their husbands, so this will totally fix that. Fix the kids a simple, easy dinner (boxed mac’n’cheese, carrot sticks, and a banana – done) and put them to bed early. Then cook a special dinner just for you two (or, if you’re not the cooking type, ask hubby to step up, or just call your favorite take out place). Eat by candle light, enjoy your favorite movie, or just have a real conversation that isn’t about who is going to pick up the kids at soccer practice or do the grocery shopping. Talk about your hopes and dreams! Bonus? You don’t have to pay a babysitter.

10. Get a massage.

Okay, this one’s not free. And maybe not even that cheap. Of course, if you can talk your husband into giving you the massage — maybe at the end of the at-home date night? But if not, maybe your husband will gift you a massage for Mother’s Day — or just a, “Hey honey, you work really hard and I love you” day. Either way, it will be soooooo relaxing and worth it.

11. Bonus!

Buy yourself a pretty smelling candle and light it whenever you’re feeling stressed. The happy smell and cheerful flicker will lift your mood instantly.

Is pampering yourself doable? Yes — you just have to make time for it. Ask your husband to put the kids to bed tonight, or take them out on a special Dad-and-kids afternoon and steal a bit of time for yourself. And since most of these include frugal items which you probably already have at home, you don’t have to plan in advance. How awesome is that?

What’s your favorite way to pamper yourself?

Reading Time:

5 minutes





    • jim karachy

      I would love to see you dressed up. I think you would be beautiful!!

  1. jessica

    I must soo be a mom because those are all such simple things, but I soo love and treasure each of those things… Really… I do. I don’t need extravagance… Just the little things… Shower… Alone in such a treat… Time to call up an one friend … In semi-peace…

    What a great list. Nice to know I’m not alone in this mommyhood.

  2. charis

    i love it! it has been a while, but i love the candle lit bubble baths with a good book when the rest of the house is asleep. with 5 males in the house, and then me, i need some good girly stuff to remind myself i AM a female. ha! great reminder.

    • jim karachy

      Love to chat!will expain!!

  3. Caroline

    Great list! I find that really enjoying a cup of decaf (#2 on the list) even just for 5 minutes (okay… 3 minutes is usually it) definitely helps. I sit, I savor, I breathe. Ahh…

    Also, I LOVE reading, too. Reading definitely helps. Sometimes even just reading to the kids helps me relax, but alone time reading is fantastic, too!

    You’re right that a more rested, revitalized mom helps serve the family better! I find if I’m relaxed (and sometimes this is where I need to renew my mindset), I can really focus more on intentionally enjoy and being with my family. This time together is so precious.

  4. Alicia

    I apparently have a pretty sweet life, because most of these are part of my regular routine. I accomplish a heck of a lot of stuff in a day, but little things like these are almost always part of the day too. It’s also nice to have a hubby who still asks to give me massages most nights, even after 15 years. 🙂

  5. Lindsay

    I love this. What mom isn’t in need of pampering and usually at not a big expense. I thought all of these were good tips, my favorite probably being buy a treat for yourself at the store because it made me feel better that I probably do that too often. 🙂

  6. Emily

    Bubble baths, hands down! It’s such a special treat. I do enjoy coffee, reading, and blogging early in the mornings and right before bed also.

    • jim karachy

      loveto chat withyou

    • jim karachy

      I would love to be the one that gives a bubble bath!!can i??

  7. karen @ our slo house

    Those area all great things, BUT…

    it’s just as important to enjoy them with an “I deserve this” attitutude.

    Because, sometimes I will treat myself with one of the above, but I’ll feel guilty about it the entire time…and that’s not good.
    –I deserve to sit down and watch a show (that isn’t on the Disney Channel and/or Nick Jr.)
    –I deserve to eat [whatever] and to taste each and every bite (not guzzle it down like it’s my drug of choice.)
    –I deserve to take a bath myself (and not feel guilty when those precious little faces want to climb in the tub with me…and I say no)


    Because GUILT destroys each of them, if you allow it.

    • jords

      Thanks for posting this.WE,fathers also need it very badly.

  8. Rachel

    Love these ideas! So simple but when you are in the trenches you just need to be reminded! My DH has been gone the entire week at a work conference. My 3 year old was at school this morning and I was at the store with my 6 mo. old and I totally bought a treat for myself! It was great!

  9. Nadene

    Lovely! We need simple pleasures to restore our perspective. How many moms with babies or toddlers need that uninterrupted time in a bubble bath?

  10. Noob Mommy

    I love to buy some fresh flowers (my sad little garden doesn’t have much goin for it) and put them around the house. Whenever I see them, I feel happy and at peace. It’s an instant destresser!

  11. Agnese

    Tomorrow my husband will be out for work and I am just waiting the moment to bed my 2 years old little boy and see a movie and eat some chocolate… and I haven’t any sens of guilty… is this the first step to pamper myself?!? 🙂
    Very nice list, you can easily apply it also here, in Italy! 😉

  12. Linen and Tulle

    I love this list. It is the little things and I try to do one thing a day. Some days it is even locking the door and peeing alone. Without feeling guilty.

  13. Stacey

    Two things that make me feel pampered at home are: (1) taking care of my feet — when my feet are happy, I am happy; and (2) leaving my jammies on ALL DAY LONG! On cold dreary winter days when all we want to do is hibernate, my kids and I love just staying in our jammies! We pick up and clean the house, we play, we read books, we snuggle under warm quilts, and we make yummy things to eat in our jammies. We end the day with warm baths and clean fresh jammies!

  14. Megan at SortaCrunchy

    Love this list, Kate! Especially #5 – wear a fancy outfit on a regular day. I thought I was the only one who did this! It’s a great way to keep my spirits up during the winter when I am prone to cold weather blues. Adding bright accessories and sassy boots to an outfit really is a pick-me-up.

    • Melissa :: A Beautiful Mission

      I love this list!!
      I must say… I do pretty much all of these things on a regular basis. I “only” have one child… and he’s now in school. I work from home, but I also make time for simple pleasures.
      Ladies… those of you who are in the midst of baby/toddler/preschool world… hang in there. It REALLY DOES GO FAST! Carve out time for you, but also don’t despair. Honestly, I MISS the time when Nick Jr was the only tv I watched during the day, or when I couldn’t get away for more than a few hours because I was nursing. Very much.

      • Melissa :: A Beautiful Mission

        oops! I didn’t mean to reply to your comment, specifically, Megan!

        But, I AGREE with you. #5 is important to me! (and, dare I say this… our husbands appreciate it too!)

    • jim karachy

      Love to chat with you. hit me back!

  15. Jennifer

    For me, it’s definitely the bathtub and a great novel! BUT I have to wait until the kids are actually sleeping. If I get in there before they fall asleep, they are in and out about a hundred times. That is so not relaxing!

    • jim karachy

      like to chat?

      • jim karachy

        Love to hear from you soon


    After I gave birth, I haven’t got anymore time for myself. I always feel depressed and exhausted taking care of everything, from the baby to the household chores. Thank goodness I came across this article. This made me realized that pampering one’s self doesn’t need to be expensive. These are really easy and realistic ways to de-stress. I will try these out, especially getting a massage and wearing a fancy outfit. Thanks again for these great ideas!

    • jim karachy

      what’s up? let’s chat

  17. Jayne @ Massage Table Center

    Of course I like No. 10, but there are some really fantastic ideas here. I love that ideas you have shared do not cost a lot of money (if any at all) and are all great things to do to take time for yourself and relax (which is soooo important)!

  18. Andrea

    Ah, finally an article about how to pamper yourself that doesnt cost loads of money. I think I’ll bring out those candles I’ve been keeping for a ‘special’ occassion and light them tonight for our date-at-home dvd night.
    Love tip 5 too, and totally agree. What are we saving things for?? I just wore my fur coat (dont worry ladies, it’s faux) down to the beach and grocery shopping, and sequins to the playground…fabulous! Wrote a blog about it here:

  19. nopinkhere

    I splurged on a fancy essential oil body spray and use it every morning. Its citrus scent helps me feel more awake, gives me a brief moment of peace, and I’m somehow left alone 9 times out of 10 when I’m spraying. I need to remember to reapply those times when I want a nap but my kids won’t sleep!

    • jim karachy

      like to chat?

  20. Living the Balanced Life

    Even though it is good to splurge with time and money every now and again, finding the small pleasures that pamper us on a daily basis is important. Like the first sip or two of coffee each morning. Take time to breathe it in and enjoy the flavor, the aroma, the warmth. Sometimes it is just about being being present and intentional in every day things.
    Great list of ideas!

  21. christine

    i love this. thanks for the ideas. 🙂

  22. Samantha @ Mama Notes

    I LOVE taking a HOT bath with a magazine. But, I swear, every time I get in the baby decides he wants to nurse THAT minute. 🙂 Oh well, I enjoy it when I can!

  23. Lise

    Great list and a great reminder that it’s important to pamper ourselves. My favorite way to pamper myself is taking a long, long walk in the country with only our dog. Something about the fresh air, the peaceful surroundings, and the opportunity to clear my head make all the difference in the world. My second favorite is a bath with a book.

    If I may take just a minute to encourage moms with newborns, one day these ideas for pampering won’t seem like “geez, why not offer to fly to the moon!” As they get a little older (mine are 1 and 3) and are sleeping through the night, you really do have a bit more time.

  24. Alice

    Thanks for this! I’ve found myself struggling over the last few days, and this list has given me some things to plan into my day to look forward to 🙂

  25. Melissa :: A Beautiful Mission

    I love this list!!
    I must say… I do pretty much all of these things on a regular basis. I “only” have one child… and he’s now in school. I work from home, but I also make time for simple pleasures.
    Ladies… those of you who are in the midst of baby/toddler/preschool world… hang in there. It REALLY DOES GO FAST! Carve out time for you, but also don’t despair. Honestly, I MISS the time when Nick Jr was the only tv I watched during the day, or when I couldn’t get away for more than a few hours because I was nursing. Very much.

  26. Prerna

    Lovely list and while we may do these every once in a while, the idea is to truly enjoy them. Only then will one feel truly pampered. I love the idea of setting out a proper tea for myself. Am going to start doing that immediately.
    Thanks for sharing this, Kate.

  27. Peggy

    Hair appointments! I may not be able to get the whole shebang but getting regular haircuts is an important way to pamper yourself on an ongoing basis.

  28. Miriam

    I usa an at home facial, Nu Skin Galvanic Spa, at that cost half the price of going to a salon & I can do this in my home on my own time!!! It has also helped with keeping my skin young and vibrant looking. Made my mother look 10 years younger!!! You can order product @ or email

  29. carolinesmith

    The particulars and exact recommendation are insurance specifically what I was wanting. I’ve book marked and will definitely be returning. Thanks for the information in this blog.

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