10 Ways Every Mom Can Find Time for Herself
Motherhood is the gift that keeps on giving. It’s also the gift that keeps on taking. You love your little ones with all your heart and soul and there isn’t anything you wouldn’t do for them. And it’s not that you’re complaining, some days it’s hard to feel human when you spend nearly every waking moment feeding, cleaning, diapering, chauffeuring, and entertaining your kiddos. Not only that, but as much love as kids give, they’re also a constant source of stress: from babies crying, to toddlers escaping, to bone-breaking school-aged kids, to teenagers learning to drive. You may not always notice the stress, but if you think about it, you, as mom, are always on alert.
It doesn’t matter if you have one child or ten; we all have our periods of time that we feel exhausted and at our wits end. Who among us hasn’t scoffed when someone has asked what we do in our “free time”? I think most of us go through phases where we don’t even know what that means anymore. But here’s the thing: we need “free time”. It’s not selfish. In order to be the best mom you can be, you’ve got to be able to take some time out for yourself once in a while to break down some of that stress and reset and keep from getting burned out.
I hear you out there, “I don’t even get to go to the bathroom by myself” you’re saying. Not to worry. Here are 10 ways to find time for yourself (when you think there’s no time).
1. Get up a little earlier
I know. I don’t much care for this one either. But, it does feel nice to get that morning shower in without worrying that everything outside the bathroom door has erupted into chaos. You can set your alarm for just 10 minutes before the kids get up and have that silent time in the shower to calmly think about your day ahead. The result is going to be an alert mama ready for the world when the littles wake up.
2. Make a standing appointment
For the last 3 years, I’ve had a standing, weekly appointment with my bestie at the Starbucks that only gets cancelled for vacations and illnesses. While it’s not the cheapest habit to have, it’s worth the cost to ensure I get an hour away from home once a week and socialize with someone I can be completely honest and comfortable with. I’m lucky enough that my kids are in school, which makes this easy, but if your kids are younger, you can achieve the same thing with playgroups. Find a playground that’s fenced in or an indoor bounce house place and see how easy it is to connect with other adults without having to stay directly on top of your child every single second.
3. Create a routine
Kids love routine and respond incredibly well when one is always followed. In the same way that kids learn quickly to brush their teeth and head off to bed, they will also learn and respect mom’s routine. For several years, my husband and I have a cup of coffee or tea after dinner. It’s our alone time to connect and talk about our day without any stress. Sometimes we drink in front of the tv, sometimes it’s out on the back porch. But no matter what, the kids know that after dinner, the mugs come out and it’s mom and dad time. They don’t get offended that it’s not their time. They just run off and find something else to do. If you create a routine for yourself and consistently make it clear that this is your routine (“I’ll play with you after I’m done with this”), your kiddos will catch on remarkably fast.
4. Find small things you love to do
It’s surprising how much the small things can refresh you. Perhaps you like to paint your nails once a week, or maybe you like to make crafts. For me, it’s podcasts. I actually really enjoy shopping or doing dishes when I’m listening to a podcast or an audiobook. Maybe it’s because my brain is being stimulated by grown ups talking, but whatever it is, I look forward to those times.
5. Look for opportunities
There are small opportunities everywhere. If you have to pick up your kids from a car line at school, keep a magazine in the car and park a few minutes early when you can. If you have a younger one, a long drive before the big kids get out of school provides an opportunity for the little one to nap and for you to have peace and quiet, just sitting in the car. If your kids have a standing appointment every week like gymnastics, you can use that time to walk around the building or run a quick errand. There are small opportunities everywhere if you start looking.
6. Try the Pomodoro Method
This is actually borrowed from the world of time management, but it can work here. The Pomodoro Method is when you have a task and you basically say “I’m going to work on this task for 20 minutes and then I’m going to take a 5 minute break” or whatever parameters you want to make it. In this example, you would set a timer for 20 minutes and whether you’re done or not when that timer goes off, you take your break. The principle is that if there’s an end in sight, you’re more likely to do the task and you’ll be more productive doing it. You can use this to find time for yourself: “I’m going to play Candy Crush for 10 minutes and then I’m going to give the kids their baths”. Just make sure that you stick to that timer.
7. Ask for (and be willing to accept) help
Yes, I know: nobody can take care of your children as well as you can. But guess what? Other people have been helping to take care of children for thousands of years and time after time, kids turn out okay. Have a heart to heart with your spouse or a family member, friend or neighbor and tell them that you are struggling with finding time for yourself. They will understand. Ask them to take the kids for an hour to give you a break. If you pick an hour that’s usually fairly peaceful, they’re likely to offer to watch the kids again.
8. Consider a change in your diet
Don’t hate me. I gave up caffeine and refined sugar a few weeks ago, and while there have been dark days that I just wanted coffee and cake, my energy has never been higher. Not only that, but it’s consistently high throughout the day. Not having those caffeine and sugar crashes has done a lot for my mood and kept me from feeling irritable. I read a study that drinking 2 glasses of water in the morning helps you wake up and makes your brain fully alert. It’s not completely surprising since drinking water is something frequently done before brain cross-over exercises for kids in occupational therapy. I’ve only been drinking one glass in the morning, but I can definitely say that I notice the difference. I’m alert, full of energy and in a great mood. All that excess energy keeps me from feeling like I’m at my wits end and since I’m getting more done, it’s like free time magically appears in my day.
9. Walk more
As long as we’re talking about being healthy here: go for walks. If you live near a park, take your kids for a walk to it. They’ll be super excited and moving in the sun and fresh air will be good for all of you. If you live near your kid’s school, start walking them to school a few times a week. The added bonus is that you can walk home by yourself, in peace and quiet. And if you have the time to take an extra trip around the block, go for it. Walking outside is phenomenally good for you.
10. Stop feeling guilty
This is probably the hardest one for most of us. We’re supposed to be on par with Wonder Woman, right? Because every message the media has ever fed us has been these incredible moms in full make up, with stellar bodies and not a hair out of place, taking care of their equally perfect and over-acheiving families in their awesomely clean, spotless house. Subconsciously, we feel like that’s what we’re supposed to be. But the truth is that we aren’t meant to be that way. It’s okay to ask for help or to feel overwhelmed. It’s not only okay, it’s completely normal! When you stop feeling guilty about looking for time for yourself, it’s going to become a million times easier to find it.
So tell me, how will you be finding time for yourself?
Thank you so much to the following blogs and link parties for letting me share: