Reward systems for kids are common practice. They add a sense of fun as we help kids form new habits. This is true for moms, too.

You better believe I had a sticker chart and prize system during my boys’ potty training phase. My younger son’s monster truck collection grew daily as we were working on his consistency in that department. Happiness guru and best-selling author Gretchen Rubin claims treats are also one of the secrets of adulthood. She says “If I give more to myself, I can ask more from myself. Self-regard isn’t selfish.”

Why it’s wonderful self-care: The definition of self-care is anything that brings you joy. And what brings us more happiness than a treat?

What’s a treat? Treats can also be anything that brings you joy, but it’s also important to remember that self-care and treats must also replenish us. “For some, this might be reading a book for pleasure. For others it could be taking a bubble bath or getting one’s nails done. An occasional glass of wine can be used for self-care. Painting a picture, writing a poem, singing a song; all of these can be ways to take care of oneself,” says McLeain.

Sweet Treat Ideas

While treats don’t always have to be earned, if you’d like to tie treats to a new healthy habit we have a couple ideas.

Try pairing — This concept is simple, but effective. Say you want to stay on top of the dishes or exercise more. You can try pairing. Find a great audiobook or podcast and only allow yourself the treat of listening while you’re doing [insert your new great habit here].

Make treats specific — Another way to keep treats in check is to make them specific to your self-care routine. If you achieve a fitness goal, buy yourself a new, cute water bottle or running shoes instead of celebrating with chocolate cake. You could also treat yourself with pens for your journal, a candle for your meditation practice or sleep mask for getting to bed on time.

Be Smart About Treats

While a glass of wine or a cupcake are, by definition, treats, it’s important to remember not to overdo it. “Drinking alcohol in excess should be avoided, as well as eating too many sugary foods or taking recreational drugs. While these things might bring a momentary rush of pleasure, they interfere in the brain’s natural production of serotonin and dopamine, altering your ability to make these hormones on your own,” McLeain says.

Mom's Guide to Self-Care
Support Mental and Physical Health to Create Total Wellness

How to use our guide:  We collected tips and tricks for major subsections of self-care: mental health, movement, treats, sleep and mindfulness. Explore and be inspired by our guide to start or tweak your own self-care routine.

► Help for Moms in an Anxious World

► Mom Chat

► Keeping Mom Well: Gray Hair, Self-Care

► Make Time for Movement

► Take a Timeout, Make Time to Be Present

► 7 Tips for Naturally Good Sleep

► Mother's Day Gift Guide