101 Ways to Refuel When You’re Running On Empty

101 ways to refuel


We work at home moms are really good at giving. We give to our work. We give to our kids. We give to our husbands or significant others. We give, give, give. Which is amazing. Things get a little hinky though, when we don’t put anything back in. Just like a car, if you just keep on driving without adding any fuel along the way, at some point your car is just gonna give up and die. Probably leaving you stranded somewhere in the middle of nowhere without a gas station for miles.

Moms are the same way… we’ve got to have fuel regularly put back in our tank to keep us going. No fuel equals break down at some point. In my experience, these “break downs” are usually big, bad and ugly. They leave you feeling overwhelmed and filled with regret.

Regret sucks. So let’s just start taking a few minutes to fill up our tank on a regular basis.

A couple thing before you get to the list. Make sure you know what your “empty light” looks like. On my car a little light starts shining when I have only a little bit of gas left. If that light comes on, it’s time to panic and get to a gas station. Pronto. Know your personal “empty light”, so you can know when it’s time to panic and get a fuel up. It may be that you start snapping at people, maybe you get a headache, maybe you just feel a general grumpiness… I don’t know, but it’s worth thinking about. When we are aware, we have power. Get awareness to your “empty light”.

This list is really long. There are 101 things you can choose from. Don’t get overwhelmed. You don’t have to do them all, and not all of them will be a good fit for you anyway. The list is so long because there will be times when one thing may work in the circumstances you are in and something else won’t. Let’s say you’re at the mall, your kiddo is having a complete and utter meltdown, everyone in the mall is staring at you, you’re making up some crazy stuff in your head about what they’re thinking about you. Your empty light is flashing and counting down the seconds until you run out of fuel… a bath in the middle of the day ain’t going to work there. :) However… 3 deep breaths might.

So, go through the list. Pick a few of your favorites that you are going to put in your emotional toolbox, so they are at the ready when the empty light comes on. Pick a few more to use regularly so you never even have to see the “empty light”. It’s kind of like filling your tank when it’s half full… you never have to worry about not being able to find a gas station.

Ok… enough with the car metaphor. :) On to the list.

101 Ways to Refuel When Your Running On Empty

1. Take a bath in the middle of the day. (Go ahead and use one of those expensive bath bombs you’ve been saving. Today is a special occasion.)

2. Make yourself a cup of coffee (or tea) and actually stop and drink it while it’s hot.

3. Put on a top that makes you feel good.

4. Put on your sexy bra. Who cares if it’s not Saturday night!

5. Meditate for 10 minutes.

daily meditation videos

6. Call a friend. Talk about nothing important.

7. Say yes to the snow ball fight your kids are begging you to have.

8. Go ahead and take your turn on the sled!

9. Go for a walk. (if the kids are driving you bonkers, put them in the stroller and put on some headphones… low enough you can still hear them, high enough to drown out the whining.

10 Go for a bike ride. I used to take my very screamy kid on bike rides using the bike trailer. I’d give her a movie on the portable dvd player, put her in the trailer and it would be my only hour of silence during the day. It was a godsend.

11. Find some trees and go walking in them. Take some time to look up at the sky through the trees as you walk. And yes, it’s definitely ok to stop and give a tree a hug. It probably needs it as much as you do!

12. Find a patch of overgrown green grass. Take off your shoes and wiggle your toes in the grass. (like Richard Gere in Pretty Woman!) If you’ve got to take the kids with you… have them do it too!

13. Make yourself a nice lunch. You deserve more than the leftover bites of the kid’s mac n cheese!

14. Take the dogs for a walk! Again, if you must take the kiddos, give them the dog’s leash and bring headphones!

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15. Get out of the house. If the kids are driving you nuts, take them to the park. Grab a cup of coffee on the way. Sit on a bench, breathe, and let them play.

16. Read a book that’s been on your “to be read” pile for a while.

17. Meet up with a friend, in real life. If she’s got kids all the better. Set up a playdate for the kids AND you!

18. Listen to your favorite music. I turn on the Pandora Maroon 5 channel while I’m doing dishes, so I can get something done and daydream about Adam Levine. ;)

19. Take a second to think about 3 things you have to be grateful for. If you’ve got more than a second, go ahead and write them down. It’s ok if the first thing is you haven’t killed your children today.

20. Take a  nap. If your kids are still napping, OMG give yourself a treat and nap with them. You so deserve it!

21. Schedule time for yourself every day. It may seem tough but if you schedule it, and treat it like the important time of day it is, you can do it!

22. Read blogs from people who uplift you. One three minute read can really fill your tank. (One of my favorites for this is Hands Free Mama).

23. Do some yoga. Even if it’s just one or two Sun Salutations. (Kids can get in on this too!)

24. Go get your hair done. Who doesn’t feel better with a new do?

25. Go for a run.

26. Get a manicure.

27. Get a pedicure. This can be done with one of your kids as a special way for you to recharge and spend some quality time with a kiddo.

28. Bake. If at all possible find someone else to clean up! (I love the smell of fresh baking bread… there are many amazing and easy recipes for the bread machine, so there’s really no mess either!)

29. Knit. Or crochet, or needlepoint. You know that craft you love but rarely make time for anymore.

30. Read a trashy romance novel. (There are a ton of free options for your kindle)

31. Ask for what you need. Even if it’s just to be able to pee alone.

32. Cuddle with your pet.

33. Actually take your vitamins. (or Juice Plus)

34. Run some relaxing essential oils through your diffuser.

35. Go ride a horse, or brush one, or pet one. It’s amazing how they can fuel you up.

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36. Forgo the alarm clock. Wake up naturally. (This is obviously for the people who don’t have kids who wake up singing Let It Go at the top of their lungs at 6am no matter what day of the week it is.)

37. Chocolate. Get the very best chocolate you can get your hands on. If that’s a Hershey’s Kiss, so be it, but if you can get really good chocolate, do.

38. Get a massage. Even before I could really afford it, I started getting massages every other week. It is the one thing that has seriously helped fill my tank when I was running on empty.

39. Watch a movie. Preferably not, Frozen.

40. Gather flowers out of your garden. Don’t have a garden? Plant some flowers!

41. Journal. Write down what’s going on, or draw pictures. It’s a great way to get out what’s bothering you, which allows you to make space for good things to come in.

42. Lay in the sun. The other day, it was sunny for the first time in a long time. The sun was streaming through the bedroom window, across the bed. I just laid on the bed, in the sun. Soaked it up. OMG it was wonderful. Do it next time you have the chance.

43. Be mindful. Take a second to notice what’s going on right now, here, in this moment.

44. Open a window. Get some fresh air in the house. (Assuming it is above freezing, and not snowing/icing at the time.) ;)

45. Join a book club. I’ve met some really wonderful people, and read books I never would have otherwise read by joining a book club. It also gives me something to look forward to all month!

46. Take yourself out to eat. You deserve food. Nice food. Not made by you. You also deserve not to have to clean up.

47. Dress up. Go ahead and put on an outfit that makes you feel the way you want to feel.

48. Laugh. At nothing, or even that silly joke your kiddo told you. Can’t find anything to laugh about? Try this.

49.  Cry. Go ahead. Let it out.

50. Green smoothies. Yeah, make yourself one. Don’t share it with anyone. Not even one sip. It’s all you.

51. Be a tourist in your own city. Go see something you’ve never done before because “only tourists do that”.

52. Go ahead and delete Facebook from your phone. You think it will kill you, but it might actually fuel you up. (It did me).

53. Read some inspiring quotes.

54. Do nothing for 2 minutes. 

55. Watch the birds. The other day while staring out the window a cardinal landed nearby. He was amazing against the snowy backdrop.

watch the birds


56. Lay in a hammock, and swing slowly.

57. Lay on the ground and look up at the clouds (or stars).

58. Say no. It’s ok really. Don’t explain why or even give a reason. No is a complete sentence.

59. Snuggle under a warm blanket. Give yourself permission to be “lazy”.

60. Fly a kite.

61. Write a love note to yourself.

62. Do a puzzle. (If they make you feel good. If they drive you mad skip this one.) :)

63. Light a candle. One that smells super good.

64. Blow bubbles. Then take the time to watch them float away.

65. Give someone you love a hug. A big, long, deep hug.

66. Dance. Like no one’s watching.

67. Sing. At the top of your lungs. Yes, singing Frozen with your kids counts. You know, you know the words.

68. Get yourself a gorgeous new notebook. Fill it with your dreams.

69. Cook something. Something delicious that YOU love to eat.

70. Throw away anything that brings back bad memories or doesn’t make you feel wonderful.

71. Get rid of those clothes you’re “going to fit into” one day.

72. Buy a gorgeous outfit that fits you perfectly right now.

73. Make a list of what makes you happy. Then do at least one thing on the list.

74. Tell yourself (and start believing) you’re doing the very best you can at this moment. It’s true. Cut yourself some slack.

75. Go swimming. If you can get to an ocean all the better.

76. Smile at yourself in the mirror. Tell yourself you’re an awesome person, and remind yourself how much you deserve to be loved. Not only from others, but also yourself. Tell yourself you love you.

77. Play the piano, or the guitar, or whatever instrument you have nearby. Who cares if you don’t actually know how to play.

78. Play hookie. Take the day off. Spend it binge watching trash TV on Netflix.

79. Wear high heels. You know those fuck me pumps you have in the back of the closet? Put them on… just for fun. Even if you don’t even leave the house. (If your “heels” are cowboy boots, that’s ok too.)

80. Make an ice cream sundae, and eat the whole thing with not one bit of guilt. (Or, you could make a big ice cream sundae and give the whole family spoons).

81. Repaint the walls in your house. Or maybe just paint one wall a big, bold color.

82. Go for a walk in the rain. Leave the umbrella at home. Go ahead and stomp in a puddle on your way back. :)

83. Stare out the window and daydream. (I promise your Math teacher won’t catch you)

84. Create a fairy garden. You can do this one with your kids, and I bet it fuels you both up.

create a fairy garden

85. Buy yourself flowers. This is even better when it’s snowing!

86. Make a delight list. And do at least 1 thing off your list.

87. Go to the chiropractor or kinesiologist and get adjusted.

88. Go to the bookstore. Take a big whiff when you walk in the door. That’s my favorite bookstore moment. That first big whiff. Check out the bargain shelf, you never know what you’ll find.

89. Practice random acts of kindness. This is especially fun during the holiday season… get the kids in on it too!

90. Hire someone to clean your house. <– this alone can change your life.

91. Forgive someone. Even for something little.

92. Smile. At yourself, your kids, strangers on the street. Seriously just smile all day. (It makes people wonder what you’re up to, and the look on their faces makes you smile even more!)

93. Skip. Yes. Skip. Across a parking lot preferably. ;) If you can get your husband and kids to all hold hands and join in… all the better.

94. Wear comfortable clothes. Go ahead, take off those tight jeans, and uncomfortable bra.

95. Swing. Friday afternoons my kiddo begs to go to the park. If I can get her off the merry-go-round and on to the swings I’m in heaven. When’s the last time you were on a swing? It’s as good as you remember. Promise.

96. Let go of emotional junk. It’s just weighing you down. If you’re not sure how to get started, here’s some ideas.

97. Unsubscribe from emails you don’t read or want. It’s bonkers how overwhelming our inboxes can get.  Even if you’re bulk deleting, it’s time and energy you could spend on something more fun. I actually look forward to opening my email now because it’s clean and clear and only people I love to hear from get in.

98. Create a Vision Board. Pinterest is great for this! Then pin (for real or electronically) all the things you want to do/be/have on the board!

99. Get rid of clutter. If you don’t LOVE it, or use it regularly… get rid of it. Yes, even if your mother gave it to you. Getting rid of things that clutter up your house can make you feel FREE! It’s ok to start small… the junk drawer in the kitchen?

100. Make a list of all the things you love about your life. Then share it with the people in your life. (or not)

101. Now it’s your turn! What’s your favorite way to fuel up when you’re running on empty?

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One Response to 101 Ways to Refuel When You’re Running On Empty

  1. Snuggling and watching a movie with the kiddos, working on a jigsaw or crossword puzzle and reading are the 3 ways I like to relax and recharge. Sometimes even blogging helps me recharge but some days I’m too tired even for that. I really would like to take up crocheting/crafts again too.

    Thanks for sharing with Small Victories Sunday Linkup. Pinning to our linkup board and hope you join us again this weekend.

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