Being a parent is the most rewarding, tough, exhausting job you’ll ever do. And that’s why we’re so big on giving yourself a treat every now and again, to take some time out for yourself and recharge your batteries.
Even if it’s just 20 minutes in a hot bubble bath at the end of a long day, or taking ten minutes to pamper yourself and do your nails, that time spent being “selfish” will – we think – make you a happier and more content mum in the long run. We can’t all run on empty forever, after all.
So here are some of our tried and tested quick fix solutions to finding your “me time” – and what to do with it once it’s there.
Schedule, schedule and schedule some more
You write your children’s appointments on the calendar don’t you? You put aside time to get them to their clubs and activities, make their tea, wash and iron their clothes? You know these jobs can’t happen out of nowhere, so you factor in the time it takes to do them, don’t you?
Well, we suggest doing the same for yourself. Rather than just scheduling time in your daily diary for everyone else (not to mention any work commitments you might have) start making time for yourself. That can only happen if you put it aside in the first place.
So take a pen and write on your calendar “ten minutes for me” on any relevant day you want (we suggest every day!). This is YOUR time. No one else is allowed to interrupt it. Turn off your phone, make sure the kids are in bed (or someone else is responsible for them) and let your “me time” begin.
Organisation is the key
Whether it’s reading a book or going for a walk, having a hot bath or watching your favourite TV programme, whatever you choose to do with the time you’ve allocated for yourself, it will only happen if you’re organised.
So put off the procrastination.
It’s easy to get absorbed in the likes of Facebook or Twitter, or get sucked into a task you didn’t realise needs doing – we’ve all been there. But instead of letting the other things take control, if you see a table that “just needs a quick wipe” or are tempted to “quickly check your Facebook newsfeed”…. don’t. Instead, allocate time for these activities and don’t let them encroach on the period you’ve set aside to spend on yourself (unless, of course, perusing Facebook is how you want to spend your “me time”, in which case – go right ahead!).
Shove the guilt
As parents, it’s easy to feel guilty for doing anything that may feel self-indulgent. After all, there’s always a million and one things that need doing aren’t there? Who has time to sit around doing their nails or reading a book?
The thing is, if you start seeing this time as something you NEED rather than something you WANT, you’ll view it in a whole new light. It will become something that has to be done by the end of each day – just like making your kids’ packed lunch or doing the washing up. Remember, taking a bit of “me time” out of your day is going to benefit everyone in the long run and avoid that symptom we all dread – “mum burnout”.
Enlist members to your club
We all need a support network. Those people we can turn to in times of need, be it family or friends, are our saviour when we’re managing the daily juggle that busy family life brings. So make sure you have people on board with you, to help you out if you can see your “me time” slipping away.
The more people you have on side, in your club, the more likely you will be able to get everything done without having to struggle on your own. This might mean asking your other half to take on a bit more responsibility one day, to do a task they don’t usually do, or it could mean asking a family member to give you a hand as an extra favour. Whoever you enlist as your support network, make sure they’re on your side and they realise why you’re starting to put a bit of emphasis on taking those ten minutes for yourself regularly.
Keep the routine
The more we do something, the more likely it is to become habit. Chances are, your children eat their supper at around the same time each day, go to bed at a regular hour and have a certain routine in the morning. Routine can help us know what’s coming next – so make your “me time” part of your routine.
As well as writing it down on your daily calendar, try and take that “selfish” time at the same point in your day, every day. This will help it become routine – for yourself and everyone else around you.
Once you start to take yourself off each day (or twice a week, or whenever you choose), your family will start to see it as a regular occurrence and will be less likely to ask, “Mum, can I have / I want / can you do…” etc.
It will become a pattern that they won’t even question.
What importance do YOU place on taking some time out for yourself? We’d love to hear your ideas and tips…