Me Time, What Me Time?
“Don’t forget to take care of yourself!” You’ve probably heard this a hundred times when discussing parenthood with others. So much easier said than done, right? When I was in the throws of raising my then 3 year old son with selective mutism and taking care of an infant, I hated hearing this. Where was I supposed to fit in this “me” time? When I was not feeding, changing or playing with my sons, I was taking my oldest to preschool, grocery shopping, or attempting to clean up breakfast from seven hours ago. When I had any sort of “me” time after my husband came home or the kids were in bed, I was cleaning up dinner, putting away laundry and taking care of anything else that didn’t get done during the day. As you can imagine, I burnt out quickly. I was irritable all the time and knew something had to change.
Get Rid of the Guilt!
There is always going to be something that needs to be done, but your well-being should be a priority as well. Parenting is not an easy task but it is incredibly easy to lose your sense of self through the demanding years of raising young children. I have learned the hard way, cliché as it sounds, that making time for yourself truly does make you a better parent and spouse.
It took me a long time to subscribe to this, but with the push of my supportive husband, I am beginning to work on doing things just for myself more often. I signed up for the gym and a Zumba class. I sometimes feel guilty about it and think of everything I should be doing with that time, but I can’t deny that I feel great afterwards. It doesn’t have to be anything huge. Sometimes I treat myself to a coffee or treat at Panera when my youngest is at preschool. It’s the little things! Ironically, the more I build in caring for myself as part of my routine, the less guilty I am feeling about it.
Just do it!
I know you don’t feel like you have the time. I know it is hard to schedule the time. It is true you could be doing a million other things on your to-do list instead, but I urge you to carve out at least 30 minutes for yourself and see how it feels. I am pretty sure you won’t regret it. Be mindful of your mood. Are you feeling happy, guilty, stressed? It may feel odd or selfish doing something for yourself at first, but self care is not selfish. So go ahead and get that manicure and admire it as you hold your child’s hand and help them explore the world around them.
These are the top 5 ways that I rejuvenate my mommy self.
1. Get out of the house by yourself. Go anywhere. Just go!
Sometimes you just need to remove yourself from the demands of home and the children. Go for a walk, try a new hobby, check out the mall, wander around Target. Have you ever been there without kids? It’s magical! Grab a coffee, get ice cream, choose whatever it is you like to eat and enjoy it!
2. Connect with a friend or family member
It is so therapeutic to bounce ideas of others, vent, celebrate successes and be a support for people struggling with the same issues as you. Take time to connect with a friend or relative, join a moms club or an online support group. There are a ton of mom Facebook support groups for every topic now, so if you use facebook, do a search and start there.
I know, I know. I can see the eye roll now. Believe me, I have done the same on numerous occasions. I completely understand how hard it is to get motivated to exercise, but you can’t deny how great you feel afterwards. It is a great way to reduce stress and stay healthy. It doesn’t have to be at a gym. Find a type of exercise you love and do that.
4. Schedule a date day or night with your spouse
It is so easy to take our partners for granted and forget that a relationship needs work. Sure you might end up talking about the kids most of the time, but scheduling that one on one time is so important for connecting with each other. It doesn’t have to be fancy. You don’t even have to leave the house. Have a late dinner together after the kids are in bed. Set aside one night each week to watch your favorite show or a movie together.
5. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude
It is so easy to get caught up in the negative, but there is so much that each of us has to be thankful for. Focus on being mindful and appreciating the good things in your day ….. the sun shining, a warm house, a snuggle with your child. Try setting aside ten minutes each day to write in a gratitude journal or download a meditation app to help build an attitude of gratitude into your daily routine.
Share your Results
I encourage you to try one or more of these tips to recharge yourself when you are feeling overwhelmed. You could even create your own list. What are your favorite self-care tips? I’d love to hear your ideas. Please share them below.