Essential Mom Self-Care: Simple Circadian Clock Reset Tips

Essential Mom Self-Care: Simple Circadian Clock Reset Tips

The biggest issue I have struggled with as a mom of 2 young children is exhaustion and sleep deprivation.

An out of whack sleep schedule has made me feel physically and mentally unwell. It has become a vicious stress cycle of staying up late to unwind and then waking up exhausted and unequipped to manage the day. Mom rage, mom guilt, irritability, and anxiety have become far too common in my day-to-day life.

While some amount of poor sleep, poor diet, and a lack of exercise is often unavoidable for new moms and dads with young kids, there are ways we can start to take better care of ourselves. And thus, take better care of our kids.

For me, I have found the ultimate mom self-care strategy is focusing on resetting my circadian clock through a daily routine in regards to sleeping, eating, and moving. 

Finding the Motivation to Take Better Care of Ourselves

Before diving into my 3 main mom self-care strategies, here is a little back story.

Reading “The Circadian Code”

As I was getting some books for my preschooler at the library one day, I found myself with a few extra minutes to spare. I did not have any children with me (a rare occurrence), so I took the opportunity to stroll through the adult section in search of a good book.

I came across Satchin Panda’s (2018) book “The Circadian Code”. This was such a fortunate find for me, because the information in this book is helping me reclaim my physical, mental, and emotional health.

The Circadian Code book by Satchin Panda

While I love my babies more than anything, pregnancy, childbirth, and raising young children has certainly presented some challenges in the sleep, diet, and exercise departments! 

Exhibit A: Take a look at the very candid picture my husband took of me while pregnant with our second child (thanks for the pic hubby, insert eye roll). This has pretty much been my morning modus operandi ever since my second pregnancy. 

exhausted pregnant mom with eyes closed and messy bun

The book is about circadian rhythm (the body’s internal clock) and how all our organs and hormones work on a certain schedule to maintain our health. They all do their best work at specific times and during specific time intervals to keep us healthy. When we do not honor the timing of our bodies’ necessary functions and interfere with their natural schedule, things start to go awry. 

Some ways that I know that I am out of sync with my circadian rhythm are my bouts of mom rage, digestive upsets, and chronic exhaustion. This is no way to live, as many busy moms can attest, and I am ready to live better for myself and my family. 

I Want to Be Around For My Kids Long-Term

Panda (2018) explains in his book that supporting a normal circadian rhythm can stave off illness and disease.

He explains that when we give our organs the proper rest and nourishment, they are able to function optimally and do the jobs they are meant to do to maintain our health.

So I am motivated to focus on supporting my natural circadian rhythm so that I can not only keep up with my kids’ energy levels at present, but also so that I can live a long life with them.

I want to see my kids grow up and get to know them as adults. My mom was sick for a significant portion of my youth with recurring bouts of breast cancer, and she passed when I was 19. I was still just a kid in many ways, and I often wonder what life would be like if she were still here. I wish she could know her grandchildren, and I imagine how much she would adore and love them and vice versa. 

3 Self-Care Tips to Improve Health and Reset Our Circadian Clocks

It’s not just about simply saying, “go to bed earlier, eat better, and exercise more for better health”. This kind of general advice is not helpful. We all know on a surface level that we should be doing these things. 

It’s about understanding why we should be doing these things, and knowing when and how to do or not do them.  

No more relying on a Target run for some short-lived retail therapy. No more deep breathing exercises in the middle of a bout of mom rage. No more fantasies that a bubble bath with some essential oils is going to make everything all better. No more desperately making that extra cup of coffee. These strategies are simply not enough.

They do not address the root problem of mom exhaustion and un-wellness.

I need routine sleep. Or at least as routine as can be with 2 young kids. And I need a healthy body and mind to keep up with my kids. I need to get in sync with my body’s circadian rhythm so I can be the best mom I can be.

Here are the 3 biggest changes I am implementing for a real self-care routine based on Panda’s (2018) book, “The Circadian Code”;

#1: Sticking to a routine bedtime and wake-up time

#2: Fasting for at least 12 hours between dinner and breakfast

#3: Aiming for 10,000 steps every day

Satchin Panda (2018) shares many more tips in his book for supporting our circadian rhythms, but the above are the most relevant and realistic self-care ideas for me as a busy mom with 2 young kids. 

1. A Routine Bedtime and Wake-up Time

Getting adequate quality sleep is important, because sleep is when our minds and bodies do a lot of work to maintain good health. Our organs clean up toxic waste that has accumulated in our bodies and our brains filter through and solidify important information at night.

So setting a regular bedtime and wake-up time with at least 7 hours of sleep is important to give our bodies time to perform their rest and repair functions. Without these functions, we become vulnerable to disease and mental health issues.

It’s hard to go to bed at a decent hour when sometimes those hours after children have gone to bed is the only quiet alone time you get. There will be quiet time later in life though, and sleep is honestly the most quiet time you can get!

So I remind myself of these things when I feel like I have little time to myself and try to justify staying up late into the night watching tv or doom scrolling on social media. Saturday nights are the same bedtime as every other day of the week. I stick to this protocol as best that I can anyways. 

And for all the household chores that I think I need to do after the kids go to bed, I have simply started checking things off my to-do list with my kids during the day.

They actually love helping (as much as a 1 and 4 year old can help), and while everything goes much slower, it does eventually get done most of the time. 

Minding the Lights

Other easy ways I am working on maintaining an earlier bed time include the following; 

  • Reducing screen time and bright lights before bed
  • Using blackout curtains or a face mask
  • Getting as much bright daylight during the day as possible

Satchin Panda (2018) explains that especially blue light impacts melatonin production at night. Melatonin is a hormone that helps promote quality sleep. 

And during the day, I’m trying to be outside in bright daylight as much as possible.

mom going for a jog outside
 Getting some bright light exposure and some steps in!

Plus, taking your kids outside for some fresh air is a great way to let them burn energy and engage in creative play! Stay-at-home moms caring for children full time can really benefit from getting out with their kids for some bright light every day.

2. 12-15 Hour Fast Between Dinner and Breakfast

In “The Circadian Code”, Panda (2018) talks about “TRE” (time-restricted eating). This is when we keep our food consumption within a set number of hours during the day. 

Dropping the Late-Night Snack

Panda (2018) recommends starting with 12 hours of time-restricted eating. He further explains that decreasing your TRE to 8 hours during the day will improve your health even more.

He explains that if our bodies are busy digesting food during the night due to our late-night snack, then they can not properly perform their rest and repair functions.

Certain organs are active during digestion, which means that other organs involved in rest and repair are not as active. All of our organs can simply not be optimally active all at once. 

I have found that keeping my food consumption within a 12 hour period during the day is very doable. Yes I have had to drop my late night snacking habit, but it has been relatively easy. If you are a tired mom who loves ice cream, chips and popcorn after your kids go to bed, I promise it’s really not that bad giving that up!

Plus, if you have a busy schedule, you will find that dropping your late night snacking habit actually frees up some extra time at night!

I have felt the benefits of dropping my late-night snacking pretty immediately, so that has been motivating to stay on track with this new routine as well. After dinner around 7pm or so, I simply do not eat or drink anything other than water until breakfast around 7am.

Panda (2018) also discusses the importance of a healthy diet full of nutritious food to support our natural circadian rhythm, but I’m taking things one step at a time.

3. 10,000 Daily Steps Goal

In “The Circadian Code” Panda (2018) explains that physical activity during the day helps us sleep better at night. We have sleep-promoting molecules inside our muscles and bodies that are made after exercise (Panda identifies these molecules as interleukin-15 and irisin and heme).

Do I go on the treadmill or out for a jog everyday? No. 

Are there always physical chores around the house and in the yard to do though? Yes!

Even movement from doing chores counts as light physical activity according to Panda (2018). And running after a 4-year-old on his bike as he yells, “race mama!” certainly counts as moderate if not vigorous physical activity. 

So busy mamas may have to get a little more creative with their physical activity. I find that when I look at chores and playing with my kids as light or moderate exercise though, I realize I’m not doing that bad in the physical activity department as I might think.

To test this though, I have ordered a step tracker to see how close I am to getting those recommended 10,000 daily steps in. I’ll update this post when I am able to record my daily steps in a typical day with my kids.

Panda (2018) explains that the only time that you want to be careful about intense exercise is at nighttime before bed because it can delay melatonin production, which will keep you up later. 

Committing to a Mom Self-Care Routine that Honors a Healthy Circadian Rhythm

As moms, we need to take care of ourselves every day. We need a practical routine with self-care practices that honor our need for proper sleep, eating habits, and movement.

I have to remind myself daily that there is enough time to take care of my basic needs. I do not have to try and be a perfect mom. If I am honoring my own physical limitations and taking care of my mental, physical and emotional health, I am setting a great example for my children.

I can still meet their needs while meeting my own needs. In fact, I can meet their needs better when I’m properly rested and nourished.

We take care of ourselves everyday because we matter and because we want to be the best version of ourselves for our kids. We want to keep showing up for them, even when they are adults. 

From “The Circadian Code”, Panda (2018) explains that we need to stick to a routine for 12 weeks to really make it stick.

That’s about 3 months of doing something that does not yet feel natural. Even though supporting a healthy circadian rhythm is one of the most natural things we can do in terms of our inherent existences, that doesn’t mean it is going to be easy at first. We have to set boundaries for ourselves the same way that we set them for our kids.

Surprisingly though, I am finding it pretty easy to stick to my routines when I remind myself why I need to stick to them. Additionally, as I start to feel the mental and physical benefits of a routine around sleep, food, and exercise, I am encouraged to keep with it. 

I know that I will probably not be able to do everything perfectly when it comes to sticking to my routines, but I am ready to do everything I can to get my mind and body back on track. 

Let me know how your mom or dad circadian clock reset is going in the comments below! 


Satchidananda Panda. (2018). The circadian code : lose weight, supercharge your energy, and sleep well every night. Vermilion.

Related Posts:

Mom Burnout Signs and Recovery

Managing Mom Overstimulation

Finding Your Own Version of a Parenting Village


  • Gussi Ochi

    Just another mom learning and growing in motherhood everyday! | BA in psychology, MA in art therapy & counseling, former licensed massage therapist

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