Whether you are a stay-at-home mom or a working mom, the need is the same. Moms need me time. These tips will make sure you get it.
You need time to decide on your own activities. To not be beholden to a boss (or three-year-old who thinks he’s the boss). Nor be ridden with guilt for the time you want to spend away.
But how do you get it?
I find that it’s usually guilt that holds me back.
Why should I need this time to myself when I’ve been away from my kids all day? It’s the typical working mom guilt.
Here I’ll just come home do laundry, wash the dishes piling up on our countertops, vacuum the floors, drive my daughter to dance lessons, find ways to entertain my son…
That’s restful, right?
After doing that for so long, I forgot what I personally found fun. Maybe you’re in the same space right now. You’ve been arranging your schedule around your kids for so long, you no longer know what you find personally rewarding.
And you feel guilty taking time away to find it.
But time to yourself is vitally important to you being a good parent. Not only will you be mentally refreshed but you’ll also show your kids what taking care of mental health looks like.
Here’s how you get your time alone.
Have you heard the saying, “What gets scheduled gets done.”?
This is true for work projects, exercising… and even taking time for yourself.
My brother-in-law and his wife have a standing weekly date where they can just focus on each other. They switch off between grandparents babysitting my two-year-old nephew and go a different adventure each week.
Since they schedule this time and hold it as a priority, they never miss a date.
At first, it might feel very bizarre scheduling time to yourself. If you’ve never done this before, start with one hour.
It can be something you need to take care of anyways, such as a waxing appointment or hair cut.
But, instead of coming right home after your appointment, tack on an extra half hour. In that half-hour, find something that you like to do, such as:
- Browse a bookstore
- Chill at a coffee shop
- Meet a friend
- Go for a walk in a park
- Read a book
Anything that YOU can personally indulge in.
After your time alone, notice your mental state. Are you more refreshed? Less stressed?
Now, schedule your next time away that’s not attached to a personal care appointment.
Let go of the guilt
When I was a teacher and my daughter was three-years-old, I felt guilty spending any time away from her.
I rationalized that I was gone for so much of the day that why did I need more time? Shouldn’t I be spending it all with her?
Many women find themselves overstressed because of this constant tug between work and family responsibilities.
According to the book Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, the benefits of taking time off are shown to decrease work burnout – even when taking time off is a work trip.
The effect of business travel on women is dramatic since “a business trip [means] a break from household chores and childcare.”
I can say from personal experience that this is absolutely true.
For this business, I take trips every 3-4 months for mastermind meetups and conferences. Even though I am working non-stop on these trips, I come back refreshed and ready to have fun again with my family.
Why? Because the time away becomes my time.
I decide what I do when I go back to the hotel room, I decide where I want to eat not basing my decision on if my kids will like it.
After taking quite a few of these trips, I no longer feel guilt about leaving my family because I know I return a better mom and wife.
Find a hobby
It’s hard, I know.
After not spending any time on ourselves, how do we know what we find fun?.
When people asked me what my hobby was, I used to say blogging. But since that’s now become a career, I now say, “I have no fricken clue what my hobby is…”
I’m still searching for one to tell you the truth. But the search in itself can be a hobby.
Winston Churchill once said, “The cultivation of a hobby and new forms of interest is therefore a policy of first importance to a public man.”
This applies to moms as well.
Churchill’s hobby, or form of deep play, was painting. Sure, he led the war effort and took down Hitler’s forces, but to rest…he painted.
You see, we as humans aren’t wired to sit on our comfy couches and stare at our beige walls as a form of rest.
We would go insane.
Fortunately, Churchill observed, “the tired parts of the mind can be rested and strengthened, not merely by rest, but by using other parts.”
This means we need a hobby.
If you are unsure where to begin, think back to how you used to fill your time during childhood.
For me, I read a lot of Christopher Pike books, acted in community theater and made a lot of fun crafts like friendship bracelets.
As an adult, this translates into:
- Reading psychological thrillers (The Woman in Cabin 10! Highly recommend it!)
- Filming myself and making videos (although that melds a little too much into work these days)
- …. and I haven’t found a craft outlet yet.
Don’t engage in a time sucker
You know what I’m referring to, yes?
Oh facebook/ Pinterest/ Instagram, you evil beasties!
If these sites actually made us happy, we would be refreshed and more delightful people after spending hours scrolling through news feeds.
But we aren’t. Usually, we just feel inadequate in some way.
A recent article by INC proved that with just a little bit of math, we could easily read 200 books a year.
How? By replacing our screen time with book time.
Now, I’m not about to give up my Halt and Catch Fire on Netflix, but this brings up a valid point.
Every time I get bored and itch to scroll through Instagram, I can pick the book I’m reading instead.
Not only will I meet my reading goals, (I’m going for 100 books this year), but I’ll probably be a happier person.
Now, you might not have a reading goal. But think of all the time you can use to engage in your own form of deep play – on a hobby that actually refreshes instead of reminds you about all the things you should be doing but aren’t.
Parents need time to themselves. By scheduling a time off, finding a hobby and not engaging in social media, you can find that needed (and deserved!) time away from your kids and come back refreshed.
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