The importance of self care for mothers is undeniable. These 6 truths will convince you to take more me time.
Often, I feel guilty about going out with friends because of the time away from my kids.
I’m afraid I’ll miss something important or even worse, my husband will resent me for taking this time for myself.
They’re baseless fears.
Taking time alone is essential to being a happy mom.
Before you say you don’t have the luxury of alone time, stop for a second.
Many moms are rocking the single mom game…
…or have a spouse who works insane hours, props his feet up on the couch and then expects to relax all evening.
It’s time to get creative.
Alone time is more of a necessity than a luxury.
Here are the reasons you need to take action and even more important – realize you deserve that time to yourself.
1) When the leader’s morale suffers, so does the troops
During one of the most important battles of the Civil War, General Ulysses S. Grant stayed away from the action in a comfortable camp with hot food, coffee and beds.
He spent a lot of time alone and received most of his info about the battle from a messenger.
This is a common practice in most Generals.
In order to make the big decisions, leaders need to have the mental space.
As a mom, you’re the leader.
Now, I’m not saying we hole up in our bedrooms watching Netflix giving commands from afar – though I’ve thought of it at times.
But, it is important to do what we can to remain hopeful and positive.
Our attitude directly affects our kids and our families. If we’re not feeling the peace, its in the ENTIRE FAMILY’S best interest to restore it.
2) Lack of sleep, eating well and exercise will ruin your health so that you can’t be there for your kids.
Being healthy, getting exercise and proper sleep should not be an indulgence.
If you’re reading this blog, you most likely are not living in extreme poverty. I’m wiling to bet you’re pretty well off and have the means to take care of your health.
But I know, just like you, I don’t make time for it.
- I forgo my morning workout when my son wakes up at 5am and begs me not to leave.
- When my kids complain about a healthy dinner I’ve planned, I’ll most likely ditch it and cook hot dogs instead.
- When my son wouldn’t sleep through the night, I refused to wake up my husband because I didn’t want to bother him. I took on those nights alone and was a pretty cranky person because of it.
Sleep is everything. A lack of it can:
- hurt productivity
- cause depression, and
- contribute to diabetes and heart disease.
Now, I look at those and think… “eh, that won’t happen.”
I offer you this:
Make getting enough rest a priority so that all you other health goals don’t suffer.
3) The more time you make for yourself, the more you have to give
If you were choosing a babysitter, who would you want?
One that was stressed, tired and ready to snap or one that was well-rested, content and enthusiastic?
Total no brainer, right? Obviously the happy one.
Happy people will be more tolerant and lose their temper less often.
If you’re finding that you’re yelling a lot at your kids, that’s a huge sign that you need time away.
How do you become a happy, content person?
You make sure that your own personal needs are met before you take care of someone else.
4) You’re able to creatively problem solve when you have time alone.
Many of the best writers and thinkers have serious breakthroughs during their alone time. In fact, they schedule it into their day.
Jane Goodall made her first major breakthrough about communicating with chimpanzees as a result of her spending time alone to observe them.
When you’re alone, you’re mind goes quiet so that your intuition takes over.
This doesn’t mean you do nothing. Rather, you do an activity that doesn’t require your sole concentration so that your mind can wander – like walking, gardening, or painting.
Science backs this up too. A 2012 study found that engaging in a simple, undemanding task allows the mind to wander and helps with creative problem solving.
Taking care of kids requires your full attention, so this mind wandering and exploration of ideas can never happen.
5) Time alone gives you space to define your values – like how you want to raise your kids
Most productivity experts recommend prioritizing your daily schedule based on what you value and what’s important to you.
What if you don’t know what’s important to you?
Every day, you’ve been reacting to your kids immediate needs.
- Wiping them on the potty,
- finding a snack when they’re hungry, or
- helping them tie their shoe.
And we want to be available to help our kids with these things.
But, we’ve never created a master plan. We haven’t defined exactly what matters for us.
The CEO of Campbell’s Foods uses 5 minutes alone every morning to reflect on his personal values for himself, health, family, company, and community.
This daily practice allows him to act decisively as a leader and to “follow his heart” when making an unpopular decision.
Have you ever given into your kids only to regret it later? Maybe it was getting a snack before dinner or watching an hour more of TV when they had homework.
In those moments, we haven’t been clear on our values.
When my kids are home in the evening, I want them to:
- Be hungry for dinner so that they eat a nutritious meal instead of filling up on Goldfish crackers
- Complete their homework well before bedtime so that we all experience less stress, and
- Learn to rely on themselves instead of me to do things (For example: my daughter needs to find her own leotard in the laundry even if she’s going to be late to dance class)
When I go against these values, I get grumpy.
By taking time alone each day to remind yourself of what you value, you’re able to act with intention and raise kids you like to be around.
6) You’ll get smarter with alone time
How often do you get a chance to learn something new? If you’re constantly around your kids, probably not much.
Yesterday, I was sitting on the couch, trying to read a book. Not more than 1-minute into it, my son comes up to me and asks:
“Mommy, want to play Go Fish?”
“Not right now, buddy”
“Nope, I’m reading”
He walks away and I think I won.
But no. I look up and the entire Go Fish game is set up and ready to play.
“Dude, I said not right now.”
“I know. When you’re done.”
10 seconds later.
“Are you done yet?”
At this point, I usually give in, ditch my reading and play Go Fish.
As much as we love our kids, they break our concentration. In order to feel refreshed and grow as human beings, we need time to grow and learn.
Many of my best ideas come from books I’ve read when I’m snuggled underneath the covers and my kids are asleep.
If you’re not into reading, try out a few audiobooks. These also work if your current alone time consists of putting in earbuds when doing dishes. I recommend:
- Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis
- Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown
Ready to take time alone for self-care?
The importance of self-care for moms is undeniable. When you’re stressed, overwhelmed and just plain exhausted, time alone may be just what you need.
Some people may complain.
And you may feel horrible guilt.
But know, that you deserve a moment to yourself. Science and history backs you up and I do, too.