As moms, we know that taking time for ourselves is important – and not just because we crave a few moments that are not spent washing sippy cups or nagging our kids to clean up their toys, but because carving out personal time is essential for our overall health and wellbeing – mentally, physically and emotionally. Yet even though we know this, putting it into practice can seem like a monumental task.
To help you clear space for yourself in 2011, here are 5 ways to carve out time for you:
Make yourself a priority – This may involve a shift in thinking because we’re so used to taking care of everyone else. Acknowledge that you deserve to take care of yourself in just the same way you look after the rest of your household. Because, odds are, no-one is tucking you into bed every night, wiping the vomit from your mouth when you’ve got that flu bug, or making sure that your calendar is organized for the next few months. You need to make YOU a priority.
Plan ahead – Every Sunday, look at your week ahead and book out some time that you can do something just for you. Whether it’s a walk in your favourite park before school pickup, a leisurely bath while the baby is napping, or an exercise class on Saturday morning when the other parent can cover you off, block off this time. And barring any emergency with the kids, DO NOT cancel on yourself. And DO NOT fill this time with chores like laundry, cleaning, groceries! There will always be to-do lists to tackle, but guaranteed the world will not fall apart while you’re taking some much-needed time to yourself.
Buddy Up and Commit – Sign up for a weekly class with a girlfriend, commit to a monthly dinner with your besties, or join a book club. When other people are involved in plans, you’re less likely to break them. Even if you feel tired, grumpy or would rather head to bed than go out, once you’re out the door you’ll feel like a whole different person.
Trade Time – Many moms don’t have family in the neighbourhood who can help take care of the kids, or can’t afford the cost of regular babysitters/childcare. (If you this isn’t the case for you, count yourself lucky and make the most of it!) A great solution is to connect with other moms and trade time. Schedule a playdate or a kids dinner date with another mom or two and rotate houses so you host every few weeks. When you’re not on duty, you’ll have a couple of hours for yourself. By doing these kinds of activities, we create support networks, build stronger communities, foster friendships between our kids, all the while giving ourselves the precious gift of time.
Get Creative – Let’s face it: our lives and schedules are completely different than they were pre-kids. A luxurious Saturday morning sleep-in, a complete read of the newspaper, and the ability to savour a cup of coffee before it goes cold might not be in the cards for you right now. So, take a look at the activities and hobbies that make you the happiest, and figure out how you can fit them in to your current reality. If you can’t make it to that favourite yoga class, ask the instructor to recommend a good DVD or podcast you can practice after the kids are in bed.
The reality of being a mom is that if we don’t take time out for ourselves, no one is going to carve it out for us. So, here’s to making 2011 a happy and healthy one for both our families and ourselves!