How to take Time for Yourself

Photo by Samantha Gades on Unsplash

I’m gonna share a secret with you. I’m terrible at making time for myself. I’m great at making time for my kids, co-workers, and pretty much everyone else. Well… I could improve on making more time for my husband.

Fact is when my time conflicts with another’s, I’ll sacrifice my own time without thinking twice.

And that’s not ok. We as moms deserve to put our needs first.

I’m sure you’ve heard this analogy before, but I’m going to use it again because it’s so true. Consider when you’re traveling on a plane. You’re told that in the case of an emergency you put on your oxygen mask first, then your children’s. Makes perfect sense right? You can’t help them if you’re passed out on the floor.

The same is true in our lives! We can’t be there for our little family if we’re exhausted and stressed out! Our own self-care is just as important, if not more, as our family’s.

Yet when I want to take time for myself, it looks something like this:

I check the calendar to make sure there are no kid activity conflicts, make sure my husband will be home, either either feed them ahead of time or have the pantry and freezer stocked so they can make their own dinner, list on the whiteboard what needs to be done to prep for the next day – make lunch, take shower, get homework done, school papers set out, remind them when bedtime is… and on and on and on.

When my husband wants to go out? He does.

That’s it.

Why can’t I make it that easy? (Did you catch the whining?)

Aside from the fact that I have this annoying habit of having to be in control of everything, traditional views of husband and wife roles still run strong.

Nowadays being a stay at home mom is the exception not the rule. Which means most women are working. Often full time. Yet we’re still expected to maintain the house and cook the meals. And if we have kids most often we continue to be the primary caretaker. So no surprise that there’s little time to take for ourselves.

Now I understand there are exceptions. But they’re just that. Exceptions.

I love being there for others – to support, spend time with, and help. My default will always be to give to others.

But in order to really be there for them, I have to take care of myself first and foremost. And I have to be purposeful in doing so.

So what does that look like?

Have a conversation with your significant other to make the time available.

Come up with an agreed amount of time dedicated to you. Whether that be 2-3 nights a week or an hour every night. Figure it out together and commit.

While you’re at it. Talk about household and kid responsibilities and divvy them up. Consider what each of you likes and dislikes doing in relation to this. For example, maybe you enjoy mowing the lawn because you get fresh air, a workout, and time to think. Maybe he enjoys cooking.

If your kids are older, give them some responsibilities to free up your time. It’s good for them to learn to dust, do the dishes, even help cook. They’ll have to do it when they move out. Why not start now? You do plan on them moving out, right?

Oh and if you’re like me, work to diminish your perfectionism and controlling tendencies. The house will run different and that’s ok. There is more than one way to do things. No one will perish. The house and kids may be a bit messier, but no lives will be lost.

Set limits and boundaries

Make it clear to your family that this is your time. No phone calls, texts, or messages unless someone is bleeding profusely or dying. If they don’t need an ambulance, they don’t need you for the next 1-3 hours.

If you’re taking your time at home, put up a Do Not Disturb sign. Make it known that no one is to bother you upon fear of death or grounding until the sign comes down.

Schedule the time and stick with it.

No excuses. If you don’t commit to it and take it seriously, no one else will. You can’t expect others to take your time seriously if you don’t.

Make a plan ahead of time of what you’ll do with your time.

Right now start a list of everything you’d like to do. Seriously. Stop reading and go make your list. I’ll wait for you to come back.

Got it? Good, post it in the comments.

When you find unexpected time for yourself, take a look at that list and do what calls you at that moment.

On your own doing it all? Find the time:

  • Nap time is a great opportunity to relax and pamper yourself.
  • Put the kids to bed earlier. The extra sleep will do them good.
  • Get up before your household wakes. I’ll admit I struggle with this. But when I do drag myself out of bed early I’m always happier I did. I’ve never regretted it. The uninterrupted quiet allows me to get a lot done.

The key to following through? Set up your alarm across the room. When your alarm goes off, turn on the light, turn off your alarm, and immediately leave your bedroom. Don’t hesitate. Don’t even think! A coffee pot with a timer doesn’t hurt either.

  • Mornings just aren’t your thing? Then stay up later.

Challenge:

Here’s my challenge to you. Try out one of the tips mentioned. Then check in here and let me know how it went! What worked? What didn’t? How did you tweak it to work for you?

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