Can you find time for self care?
It seems that no matter your domestic situation – whether you parent with a partner or are a single mother – moms believe that they do not have time to take care of themselves.
We prioritize the needs of our family so far above our own that we start to forget who we are and what we enjoy doing.
The truth is, there is time for self care – it just takes a little more work for moms to find it.
I’m a single mom and I used to struggle with finding time for self care. I’ll admit, it got easier as my daughter got older and could entertain herself for longer periods of time, but I still had to struggle to make taking care of myself a priority.
I was so used to taking care of her that it sort of become my default mode every day.
Eventually, I started taking time to do things that I enjoy – like playing video games, watching true-crime documentaries, taking baths, drinking wine…
It didn’t matter if I took 5 minutes or a whole weekend (thanks, Nanny!), I ended up feeling reenergized and less stressed out.
So if you don’t think you have time for self care, think again! Here are some tips for finding that time even if your life is chaotic and your schedule is cray:
Self Care is Not a Luxury
In fact, self care is a necessity and it’s absolutely not selfish to make yourself a priority.
I like the metaphor of your life being a cup. You can’t pour from an empty cup – so if you are drained and doing nothing that makes you happy, you have nothing to give to others.
And if you keep trying to pour from the empty cup, you experience mom burnout and overwhelm. You give and give and give and do nothing for yourself. Your own needs are completely forgotten.
The idea of taking care of yourself may seem like a beautiful fantasy because, let’s face it, you just don’t have the time. Where in your crazy schedule are you going to find time for self care – to relax and nurture your soul?
Guess what, mama? It’s completely possible!
Is it easy? No. Will it take some effort? Heck, yes.
But it is doable and I hope these 8 tips will help you to find that time to take care of yourself and fill up your cup.
1. Change Your Mindset
In order to find time for yourself, you have to believe you can. Change the way you think about self care.
Instead of saying “I have no time,” try telling yourself “There is time to be found.”
Somewhere in your crazy schedule, there is at least a moment or two that you can take for yourself to focus on your own needs. Perhaps it won’t be scads of time, but every little bit is beneficial to your mental health.
2. Sort Out Your Tasks
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the activity of our lives – homework, supper, sports, dance – that we fail to see the potential for free time. We can’t see the forest for the trees, so to speak.
Take a look at your schedule and ask yourself these questions:
What tasks are non-negotiable?
There will be tasks in your schedule that cannot be pushed aside or eliminated. Your kids need to go to school, you need to go to work, you need to keep your doctor’s appointment – there are going to be many things you cannot cancel or ignore. Figure out these tasks first.
What tasks can you combine and multitask?
Multitasking is a mom superpower! While I have come across a few article denouncing its effectiveness, multitasking can be a huge time saver if done right.
The important thing to remember about multitasking is to be sure you are doing two things at once that don’t need 100% of your attention. For instance, trying to catch up your emails while listening to your kid talk about their day is not good multitasking. Neither is working on your budget while eating dinner.
Some things need your full attention but as long as one the two tasks don’t need your undivided attention, double up and get things done quicker.
What tasks can you streamline?
Streamlining is a bit different because these involve at least one task that can be started and left alone. Think of things like laundry, cooking supper, extracurricular activities you don’t have to observe or cheer during (such as a dance or music class). These are all things that do not require your attention so you can focus more fully on other tasks.
Can you say “no” to things?
While we all try to be supportive and helpful to other people, there may be instances where you can (and should) say “no”.
You need to prioritize those who are most important to you – this includes not only your family but your close friends and relatives.
A broken-hearted best friend is more deserving of your attention than the latest school bake sale. When it comes to saying “no” to things that cut into your personal time, you need to determine what is most deserving of that sacrifice.
Can you ask for help?
Those same close friends and family members that you are willing to sacrifice your time for are, hopefully, willing to do the same. Don’t be afraid to ask other people to help out with your kids when you need time to yourself.
The considerate thing to do, of course, is to reciprocate that help when you can. An evening out with your hubby may be worth watching your friend’s kids next time she needs a break.
3. Carve Out Time For Yourself
Sometimes in order to find time for self care, you have to actually schedule it. That may mean writing down on a calendar exactly when you are going to take a break and do your own thing. It’s like making a date with yourself.
Remember, it is okay to prioritize your self care.
Otherwise, you may find small pockets of time in which to enjoy yourself. Instead of sitting around the lunch table at work, you can go for a walk. Have your husband or partner take over the bedtime routine so you can curl up and read a book.
Just make sure that time is specifically set aside for you.
4. Start Small
When you find yourself with absolutely no time to yourself, it’s unlikely that you’re going to find loads of time opening up before you all of a sudden. Even if you can find 5 minutes to yourself, it’s a start.
Believe it or not, there’s a lot you can do in 5 minutes that can soothe your soul and make you feel like you’re focusing on you for once. If you have an extra 5 minutes, try one of these:
- Practice deep breathing
- Have a cup of tea
- Browse inspirational quotes
- Write in your journal
- Check your Facebook
- Rub your feet
- Sip some wine (just don’t go crazy)
The more you can squeeze these short moments into your day, the better. It may not seem like a lot, but you’ll notice a difference when you engage in these self-care quickies throughout the day.
5. Stay Up Late or Get Up Early
Gross. Even I hate this advice but it works – staying up after your littles go to bed or waking up before they do provides you with some pretty big chunks of time in order to enjoy yourself.
But I get it – you’re a mom and you’re exhausted. We so easily crash with our kids at bedtime and then struggle to get as much sleep as we can in the mornings.
I’ll let you in on one of my not-so-secrets: No matter what time I go to bed, I wake up feeling like death. So whether I go to bed with my daughter at 8 pm or stay up to watch Netflix until 10:30 pm, I still feel like a bucket of yuck in the morning.
So I stay up at night to get some alone and relaxing time. However, if you are more of a morning person (god bless your little heart), then waking up early may be more suitable for you.
Trust me, this is going to be the easiest place to find that well-deserved time. Why not take it?
6. Lean On Your Support System
I did talk a little bit above about asking for help, but it’s worth mentioning again. Especially because you should never feel guilty about asking for help.
As long as you don’t lean on your support system to the point of knocking them over, you shouldn’t feel bad about asking for their time so that you can have yours.
And as far as husbands and partners go, you shouldn’t lean on them so much as push them into the fray. Guess what? They’re your partner and they should be supporting you (whether they are the parent of your children or not).
Again, perhaps another post for another day…
7. Use Time-Saving Hacks
Moms love hacks! We thrive on browsing hacks of all kinds on Pinterest.
If you’re anything like me, however, you browse but never read. Trust me, time-saving hacks are invaluable tidbits of information that can make a difference in finding time to yourself.
Marissa at Just Simply Mom has some great ideas for hacking your way to some free time. Her tips include:
- Establishing schedules and routines
- Grocery and meal delivery services
- Shopping online
You can find more time-saving hacks by doing that Pinterest search and actually reading the articles. (Click here, I’ve already done the search for you!)
8. Do What You Love
Most importantly, use the time you have to do what you love.
What constitutes as self care differs between people. Never feel that you have to meditate, journal, do yoga or have hot baths in order to fulfill your self care needs.
A lot of places like to sell those as your only self care options but, honestly, just do what you love.
I should also point out that time for yourself doesn’t necessarily have to be time alone. It means doing what fulfills your soul and fills your cup.
It means having time to enjoy yourself without feeling responsible for anyone or anything.
This could include social outings or any activity you enjoy doing with your family, friends and even your children.
Find Time for Self Care!
So go find that time, mama. You want it and you need it but, most importantly, you deserve it.
Help me add to my list! How do you find time for yourself in your crazy life? Answer in the comments below!