Five Ways to Fill Your Own Bucket {While Raising Small Kids}


Red buckets.2Burnout.

It’s easy for moms of small children {or any-age children?} to feel like we’ve emptied ourselves until there’s just nothing left to give, and then to get up the next day and do it all again.

Our precious kids are worth every sacrifice. But that doesn’t mean that we should neglect to care for — to even lovingly nurture — our own bodies, minds, and souls. It’s hard to give what we don’t have. If we’re empty, how can we help to nourish those who’ve been entrusted to us?

The more we intentionally nourish ourselves — fill our own buckets — the better we’ll be able to care for our families. And if we don’t take the time to care for ourselves, chances are, our families will suffer. {Ask me how I know.}

Full buckets also help us to lessen the burnout when it comes, or maybe, in some situations, to even avoid it altogether.

If you’ve been searching somewhere for permission to take time out of your overflowingly-busy life to nurture your own needs, then look no further, my friends.

Here are some ideas to help you relinquish the guilt, let go of the “I should be able to do it all” attitude, and joyfully refill your bucket.



Also known as hobbies. {But I don’t really like that word, because it sounds like something I enjoyed in middle school.}

What makes your heart sing? What would you spend your time on if you allowed yourself a break from the everyday grind? Find that meaningful something, whatever it may be, and pursue it.

Photograph, cook, read, hike, cycle, blog, write poetry, paint, garden, sky dive… If it’s meaningful — that is, if it points you towards truth, goodness, and beauty — and if it brings you joy, then it’s worth your time and effort to cultivate.



A thriving prayer life is something we moms all long for, right? But actually making it happen is often illusive or nearly impossible.

Notice the word intentional. 

In certain difficult seasons of life, young motherhood being one of them, I’d like to think it’s not about what or how much we pray. It’s about the intention of our hearts throughout the day.

Starting with a morning offering and uniting ourselves to Christ and His cross, we can intentionally open ourselves wide to His grace and His will for us in each moment. This way, it doesn’t matter whether the day allows for only a few minutes of quiet prayer time, Mass and a full holy hour, or no time at all, because we are praying with our very lives.

But take it a step further if you can. Spending 5-10 minutes of purposeful prayer each day is often easier than we think. It can be as simple as reading the Gospel, saying a decade of the rosary, or just opening our weary hearts to Him.

Communing with the Lord fills our buckets in profound ways.



I love what C.S. Lewis says about friendship:

Friendship happens at that moment when one says to another, ‘What! You, too? I thought I was the only one.’”

If you’ve ever known the joy of a “bosom friend” then you know how rich and beautiful life is when you share it with someone who understands your heart.

Friendship is important to cultivate in every season of life, but I think moms of young children are especially in need of good friendships. 

We need other women, other moms, to help us through self-doubt and overwhelm, to hold our hands and offer their shoulders for our tears, to listen and affirm, to share in the joys and triumphs of life with littles. And we need to do it for them, too.

Good friends are a gift, not a guarantee, and friendship, just like any relationship, takes work sometimes. But how worth it to have someone by your side to let you know that you are not “the only one.”



This may not be for everyone, and if learning new things adds to your stress rather than alleviates it, then skip to #5!

For me, continuing my education in various ways helps me to thrive {and keeps my brain from going to mush}. Over the past year, I’ve enjoyed taking online classes, reading books about subjects that I’ve never before studied, and taking free webinars about all sorts of things.

If there’s something you’ve always wanted to learn, there’s a good chance you can find an affordable way to do it online. Check out Udemy and Coursera for some interesting courses. You can also find a variety of wonderful Catholic classes at Catholic Distance University.



This one’s important, but I think it’s often overlooked by stressed-out moms {I’m so guilty of this}. It’s easy to push our marriage to the back burner when other things on the stovetop are on fire {i.e., our kids. Every day.}

But husband and wife are charged with the amazing task of sanctifying each other, primarily through self-sacrificing love. This takes so much effort, especially when we’ve already poured ourselves out for our children all day and we have next-to-nothing left to give to our beloveds by the time they’re home from work.

{This is another reason why it’s so important to fill our own buckets — we’ll have more to give our husbands if we’re not running on empty all the time.}

Amazingly, I’ve found that when I devote regular and intentional time to strengthening and protecting my marriage relationship, it does wonders for my weary heart, my deflated self-esteem, and my feelings of overwhelm. The truth is, the more deeply I love my husband, the more deeply fulfilled I am.

Marriage-nurturing looks different for each couple. Find what works for you and your spouse. Here are some ideas:

  • Read a book together. Choose one that gets you talking about your relationship. {The Exceptional Seven Percent and The Four Seasons of Marriage are both really helpful.}
  • Take the Love Dare.
  • Rekindle your passion for each other. Try this great book from Catholic blogger and author Hallie Lord.
  • Set goals together for your future. In what ways do you want to define your marriage? What kind of family do you want yours to be? What practical goals should you set in order to achieve your desires?


Even if it’s hard, spend time this week intentionally filling your own bucket. I promise you won’t regret it. 

I’d love to know — what are YOUR favorite ways to fill your bucket?


Copyright 2015 Lydia Borja.
Image Attributions:

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  1. Thanks for the gentle reminders Lydia! We sure can tend to overcomplicate life can’t we! Your message brings sweet balance and a sigh of “oh yeah…I really can do this!” thanks for that. Blessing on your day!

  2. I must plug for the University of Dayton’s Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation. This is a great, very affordable way to take online classes if that fills your bucket! If your diocese is a member (and many are) it can cost as little as $40.

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