Between the messes, the crying, the running from place to place, the making food and consuming of food, and everything else that a mom has to deal with every day, sometimes it’s hard to find time for yourself.
I was just complaining the other day about bad days. Did I have bad days before having children? Because my bad days are now made up of temper tantrums, angry kids, and mishaps that never happened before having kids. And the same goes for free time. What in the world did I do with my free time before children? I’m assuming I had it, I just don’t really remember it or enjoying it as much as I crave it now.
When I first became a mother, it was overwhelming. I was more concerned about having cute bedding, the most stylish clothes for my little one, and the best of the best toys. Everyone else seemed concerned about those things as well so it came as a bit of shock when I was up all night for the first week of my baby’s life (both of my children had as severe of a case of jaundice you can have without them staying in the hospital so they had to sleep on bilibeds for 1-2 weeks all day), I hadn’t showered for days, and that parts of me hurt that I had no idea would hurt after having a newborn.
Slowly my life became consumed by this one child and then was surprised to find out I was going to have another one … just as my life seemed to start getting back to normal.
By the time I had my second child, I realized something had to change. I had to enjoy my life again without feeling weighed down by parenthood and sleep deprivation. My solution? Go to bed early and get up early.
When I go to bed early, not too surprisingly, I can get up early. And as I am most productive first thing in the morning, it means that I can cross off a whole bunch of things from my list before the kids even get up! My goal time to wake up each morning is 5:30 am. That gives me two hours to get some work done, exercise, and shower all before I am needed for breakfast. Some mornings I get up earlier and some mornings I get up later. But when I get up early and I’m well rested, I have these great two hours (give or take) all to myself. No one is asking me for treats. No one wants to go to the park. No one is complaining that so-and-so took their whatever. And no one is pulling on my pants, trying to get me to go somewhere with them to see something. It’s my time. And if all I feel like doing is watching “Drop Dead Diva” on Netflix, I can do it. If I just want to go to the grocery store by myself, I can. If I just want to lie in bed and pretend the day isn’t going to happen, I have that extra time to waste.
A second way I can find time for myself is by making sure that everyday includes a “quiet time.” I have seen my sister-in-laws reinforce quiet time to even their older kids. If they are home during the day, there is a quiet time. It can be reading, it can be napping, or it can be quietly doing an activity at the table. Whatever the case, the house is quiet. With this quiet time I get to indulge and reward myself for making it half way through the day. I usually turn to the computer for catching up on emails and Facebook, but I’ve also just watched a television show, napped, gone to the mall (my husband works from home so he stays with the kids), I’ve gone to visit a neighbor, and during the summer, you can often find me outside trying to even out my tan on my legs and feet while reading, working, or napping. Quiet time is essential. It rejuvenates the kids and myself.
My last suggestion is to be able to find other mothers to spend time with. Any friend, really, is great, but when I am able to vent to another mother and go out and enjoy some food or an event, it helps me feel less stressed and helps me feel “normal” again. I am able to get some “real” conversation in that doesn’t have to do with princesses, cars, or pretend food. It’s cathartic and it works.
I am blessed to be a local Utah blogger which means that every week, I have meetings to go to, people to visit, and things to do. Often, I can take my children with me, however, sometimes I can’t. As a stay-at-home mom, I feel guilty when I leave them. They should be with me! And when I watch my little two-year old crying with his arms outstretched towards me, it breaks my heart as I close the door, however, they know I’ll come back to them and I make a special effort to make sure we go for a walk, go to the grocery store, or visit a friend together when I get home. They know that I spend some time doing things I like to do (and sometimes don’t like to do) and that they will get to do things they like to do.
Finding something you love to do and finding some extra time each day for yourself is essential to your emotional and mental well-being. Being a mother is tough. It’s exhausting. So don’t let yourself feel guilty for taking out some “me” time. Like I always tell my family, “if you want me to be happy and be able to take care of you without being frustrated, let me do [this] (blog, spend time with friends, etc). When I’m done, I’d love to spend more time with you!”
About the author:
Kim Corrigan began the Utah Valley Moms blog in 2010 and is the main contributor. She has two young kids and loves to be anywhere but at home.