Time is a precious thing, so if you think me time is a luxury you can’t afford to take, we hear you. Here’s the problem though: Our lives become what we choose to do each day. So if you don’t ever take me time, you may never get around to making yourself a priority and doing the things you love to do. This is your one and only precious life after all. Taking care of yourself is one of the most important gifts you can give to your child/ren, and of course, yourself. Here at Get Healthy U, (since we are always bugging you to exercise) we hear about the challenges you have with time. Maybe some of these scenarios sound familiar:
Your morning is a frenzied blur of feeding and trafficking mini-people out the door for school.
You feel like you surrender your entire day to work.
You wish somehow you could skip your commute because you feel like it steals any possibility for “me time.”
If you ever do get some free minutes for some “me time”, you are too tired to take advantage of those moments.
Sometimes you have to check and see if you actually have a home, because you feel like you live in your car.
So if you are laughing at the thought of taking me time, we empathize. Self-care is a daily struggle for so many busy moms today. Some moms develop the habit early on in their motherhood journey, and intrinsically understand that self-care is an essential component of being a competent mom. Other moms are more apt to become swallowed up by the pressures of motherhood and find that taking care of themselves continues to slip down on their priority list. It is essential to realize that securing the sacred time you need to nurture yourself will take effort, planning and even some creativity.
So before you give up, let us make our case on why it’s so important.
1. You deserve it.
Even the busiest among us should allow ourselves 30 minutes dedicated solely to ourselves, right? Many of us don’t take that time and we put it off for a day in our future when we feel more caught up. The challenge with this way of thinking is your “me time” never arrives. Something is always going to pop up on your day that takes your attention unless you schedule and take your me time. Decide you are worth it, and put yourself on your calendar–in ink! We always say schedule your exercise like an appointment you can’t miss, and you can do the same for your me time too. (Or maybe exercise is your me time!)
2. It will improve your mood.
If you are anxious or lack enthusiasm about your days, it could be due to a serious lack of YOU time. We all need time and space to recharge doing what we love to do the most. Our minds need a break from our routine, stress and busyness. If you are dragging or feel out of sorts, it could be because you never recharge your own battery. Some of us crave recharging with a little alone time (a good book, a walk, a funny show) while others recharge with others (group fitness class, a gathering of friends for coffee, a dinner party). Me time doesn’t mean you have to go be by yourself and get a pedicure (although I love that idea); it means you put your own needs on the family calendar.
3. Your family deserves it.
As a mother, taking care of your children is often your highest priority. Putting others’ needs in front of your own may work for a while, but eventually, it won’t, and most likely will carry negative consequences. The hazards of neglecting yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally can include health problems, anxiety, depression, and relationship issues. These issues will not only have an adverse effect on you, but your children will feel them and most likely be affected by them as well. Therefore, taking care of yourself and having “me time” is an integral part of taking care of your children.
As one mother of two children recently shared with me, “I’ve had to realize that sacrifice is a normal part of parenting, but there has to be a limit. I must set boundaries and set apart time that is just for me in order to be a healthy enough person to parent well.” Even if it isn’t your natural state, give yourself permission to do things just for YOU!
4. Your compassion will build.
Morning meltdowns or mini dramas won’t affect you as much when you are fully charged. You feel more compassionate to others when you act compassionately to yourself. When you create space just for you, you can be more resilient and calm when things are chaotic around you. You won’t feel depleted and a fulfilled you makes for the best you.
Related: Choose Meditation Over Medication
5. You will be a good role model.
Do you know what your kids learn from you if you never put your needs first or if you act like you don’t have any needs for the sake of everyone else? They learn that mom doesn’t value her own life. The best way to teach your kids to respect and value their lives is to respect and value yours. Take some me time to pursue your own interests outside of your immediate family. To be a clear-headed, strong mom, who can be a good role model for your children, you need to be healthy in mind, body and spirit. The only way that is going to happen is by making sure you are nurturing all aspects of yourself, which involves carving out necessary time for YOU.
The zillion-dollar question that so many moms ask is, “How in the world am I going to take care of myself when there are some days that I barely have time to go to the bathroom?!” There is no clear-cut, fail-proof way to do this. Yet very single day, you must simply ask yourself, “What am I going to do to take care of myself TODAY?”
Best Ways To Actually Take Me Time
- Figure what kind of self care you need most today. Do you need exercise (would be great if you could do some kind of movement every day), extra sleep, time alone, with a girlfriend or with your partner?
- Prioritize and schedule it.
- Take ten minutes if you can’t take an hour.
- Ask for help. Call grandma, a neighbor, a friend to come over to watch your child/ren so you can sleep, workout, meet your husband for lunch, or do whatever you need for you (not run errands for the kids!)
- Get up earlier if you are an early bird.
- If you work outside the home, plan a walk by yourself or with a girlfriend over your lunch hour or during a break.
- Take the kids to the childcare facility at your gym to so you can workout and/or enjoy a nice long, hot shower without the fear of a child interrupting you.
- Go for a jog or walk when your spouse gets home from work, or get up early to meditate or get to an exercise or yoga class.
- If you have young kids and it is too difficult to leave the house, make sure you have a few good meditation or exercise videos for you to do when your baby or toddler is napping.
- Do you have a flight of stairs in your home or apartment building? Use them!
- Decide you are worth it.
There is no doubt that as a mother or busy woman, taking good care of yourself requires you to be intentional. And even with good planning, you still may encounter grumbles from your spouse or tears from your child when you leave to go do something just for you. The big picture? There is no question that doing so will make you a happier, healthy woman and mother, and a wonderful role model for your children.
Julie Burton is an experienced writer specializing in any and all aspects of parenting, relationships and finding balance. She also teaches yoga at Core Power Yoga in Minnetonka, Minn. She is a wife and mother of four children ranging in age from 9 to 18, and soon-to-be author of a tell-all book for mothers. You can find her at her website: juliebburton.com.