by Chrissy Rose | Chrissy is a California native who has been freelance writing for over 10 years. In her free time, she enjoys running, reading, writing (of course), watching the Giants win, and spending time with her family.
As parents, we tend to feel that all of our time is spoken for. No matter how many children you have, or how old they might be, they’ve probably got you running ragged. Naturally, finding time for mommy, is placed on the back burner. Whether it’s school or taking them to soccer practice or scheduling playdates or making sure they get enough tummy time during the day, you’re just plain busy.
Women in particular tend to take on too much. We tend to believe that if we’re not spending time with our children or scheduling some sort of stimulating activity, then we must be “bad” or “lazy” mothers. Societal pressure pushes us even further towards burnout. It doesn’t matter if you’re a working mom, stay-at-home mom, work-from-home mom, or your own brand of mom, it’s common to feel overwhelmed and like you have no time to yourself.
While many of us may have made resolutions to improve our lives one way or another, perhaps the resolution you really should be making is to find some time for yourself this year. Believe it or not, you are more than a mom! Giving birth doesn’t erase the best friend, dancer, marathon runner, or wine lover in you. This is the year to reconnect with that woman who makes the mom.
#1 Believe you deserve a break.
Despite the allure of taking some time for ourselves, we have a hard time making it actually happen. So, how can you change that this year?First, you must believe that you deserve this time! If you can’t convince yourself on your own, maybe it helps to know that mothers who don’t take time for themselves are more likely to experience caregiver burnout. Research shows that when women feel pressure to be the “perfect mother” and revolve their entire lives around their children, they are more likely to be stressed. Consistently heightened levels of stress can lead to headaches, fatigue, lack of sleep, weight gain, irritability, high blood pressure, and even heart disease. It’s important to remember that in order for us to be the best mothers to our children, we have to take care of ourselves too.
If that’s not convincing enough, research also shows that the development of a child is negatively affectedwhen their mother suffers from mental health conditions, and that burnout in a parent can actually lead to neglectful or even violent behavior towards one’s children. Time to yourself actually makes you a better parent – believe it!
#2 Evaluate your priorities.
This goes beyond the standard priorities of providing for your children and raising happy humans. Dig a little deeper and identify what you want out of life in addition to raising your children. Have you always wanted to learn a language? Have you wanted to take a cooking class? Are you afraid you’re getting too old to reach that goal of finishing a marathon? Are you longing to dance the night away with your best friend? Making a list of your priorities will help you stay focused on what’s important to you, and how your “me time” will help you achieve that.
#3 Trim the fat!
Americans pride themselves on being busy, but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Take a look at your daily, weekly, and monthly schedule. Is there something that you do that could be eliminated? Are there tasks that could be combined? Are there tasks that you can hand over to someone else? (Cough, cough, your partner.) If there’s a consistent task that makes you grumble and you can get out of it, do it. You could have your groceries delivered, or hand that chore over to your spouse, if that’s your least favorite or time-consuming task. Can you start a carpool with your children’s friends and thereby give yourself an extra 20-30 minutes in the afternoon? Or maybe you opt not to make all the costumes for the sixth grade play this year. Condense, combine, and cut.
#4 Make a plan.
With children, logistics must always be accounted for or chaos will ensue. Identify who can help you, for how long, and how often, and where that fits in with your schedule. Once you have the time squared away, identify what it is that you want to do. If you want to make plans with a friend, do it. Text them now and make dinner reservations. If you want to get a pedicure, make an appointment today. If you want to go for a run, identify where it is you want to go, even if it is just on a treadmill at the gym. Make a plan for your alone time, and stick with it.
#5 Schedule it in.
Literally, pencil it in. But use a pen, because you’re not erasing this appointment. Put it on your family calendar, in your planner, in your phone, however or wherever you schedule things. Take it just as seriously as your dentist appointment. If you write it down, you’re much more likely to stick to your prescheduled “me time” and others are more likely to honor it. Additionally, once you’ve done the prep work and scheduled in the time, you know exactly how much time you can take to enjoy yourself without checking your watch every five minutes. Set a timer on your phone if need be, then put it away and focus on yourself.
Scheduling in this time will also help you make it a habit and stick with it, even when you feel like there’s a million things to be done at home. No matter how small you start, make this time for yourself part of your routine and protect it.
#6 Have fun!
This “me time” is a chance for you to get back to who you are in addition to your role as a mother. Just as dates and quality time with your significant other are important to remain connected, so are dates and quality time with yourself. Try that new breakfast spot you keep driving by, get lost in a book, take a bubble bath. Whatever it is, make sure you’re doing something you want to do. Then relax, and enjoy.
Remember, you are more than just a mom! Having children doesn’t erase the person you were before hand. This is the year to reconnect with that woman who makes the mom.