I find it rather laughable every time I hear a magazine, talk show, book, etc. claim that as a mother you absolutely must find time to devote to yourself. What makes this seem so ridiculous is that I have yet to see them follow up with exactly how you are supposed to find this mythical “me” time. There’s always the obvious, like pawning the kiddies off on your husband or babysitter, but for most of us, having that extra assistance isn’t always an option. I think we all agree that finding time for things we enjoy is important – so on to a solution!
If you are like me, there are a number of things that you would like to accomplish in a day that go beyond the necessities. Personally, I like to make time to run, read, cook/bake, and blog (i.e. dillydally on pinterest) daily. Here’s my top 5 list on how I get in this “me” time:
1) Plan out your day – If you think about your day the night beforehand and have an idea of where and when you will be doing things, you will be better able to pinpoint any free spaces you might have. Having a regular schedule in place will greatly help with this as well. I am a crazy scheduler, but I think the schedule actually keeps me from going crazy. Knowing that I will have a chance to run, or an hour to read by myself in the afternoon is exactly what I need to get me through a toddler tantrum or bazillionth diaper change.
2) Use your time wisely – Once you’ve set aside a little nook of time for yourself, make sure to use it well. Don’t get stuck folding laundry or checking random people’s statuses on facebook. Do something that you truly enjoy and will leave you feeling refreshed. For me, tv is a huge waste of my time. Unless it’s a show I particularly like, I usually end up feeling like I wished I had done something other than watch grown housewives yell at each other. But maybe that’s exactly what you love! Just figure out what it is you really want to do, and do it, without getting caught in some kind of time drain.
3) Use naps & independent playtime – A no-brainer. When the kids are otherwise occupied, take the time to do something that will help you recharge so that you can be the happy, upbeat mama you want to be when they are done with their little siesta. I think this also goes back to planning out your day. I always have a list each day of what must get accomplished, and I will usually spend the first 30 minutes of nap time getting those things done. Knowing that I only have so much time, this will motivate me to get the laundry, orders, dinner prep, etc. done as quickly as possible so that I can get on to the fun stuff. Or maybe you set aside independent play as the time when you get your daily chores done and nap time is all for you. If you haven’t started independent play, I highly recommend it, and wrote here and here about how to implement it. If you have multiple children, getting them to nap or be occupied simultaneously is also key.
4) Include the kids – Find ways to bring your kids along or include them in the things you enjoy. Exercising is easy for me – either the kids are in the running stroller or we head to the gym and they go into childcare. The trick is to make it enjoyable for them too, so that they don’t pitch a fit about doing it. If you find a gym daycare they like (and you trust) then it’s a win-win for everybody. As for running, I could write a whole post on this, but the cliff notes version is snacks & toys, and always save something to pull out for that last mile when they are really on tilt. I also always make sure that I run/go to the gym at a time when neither is going to be tired or hungry, as that just makes for a fussy kid no matter what. Before I had Rylan, Brandon and I also would do quiet reading time together. He would flip through his books or move on to another quiet activity while I got some reading in. I do include Brandon in some of the baking that I do, but I’m not gonna lie, adding a toddler to the baking mix does not make for a relaxing afternoon. If you really do want to do something on the computer, pull out the ipad and let your little person do his “work” as well. Lots of ways to get creative here!
5) Prioritize your hobbies – What do you really like to do? Narrow it down to a few things that really float your boat, and concentrate on those things. Yes, we all want to be interesting people with varied hobbies, but when you are a parent you simply might not have the time. If you are only lukewarm on cooking, then find quick and easy recipes. If crafting really isn’t your thing, then get yourself over to etsy for that knit scarf you’ve been coveting. Personally, I’d love to do a triathlon, but running is my first love and until the kids are older, the biking and swimming are just going to have to wait. Golf is another activity that both my husband and I enjoyed before kids, but rarely get to play now. Pick what you truly love and let the rest go without any guilt.
Hope you all find something fun to do for yourselves today (and everyday)! Do you have any tricks for getting in your “me” time? What do you love to spend it doing?