We often believe as parents that we don’t have time for ourselves. I lived and breathed this way too, for years! As our babies grow into toddlers and our toddlers into school aged children, we, without realizing, carry on living with the same mindset we had when our children were babies, who didn’t sleep through the night and needed us to put our basic needs aside in order to keep them alive.
As our babies grow up however, we actually don’t need to continue to put our basic needs aside.
We can actually learn to let go of this belief and mindset. We can and we should. For when we chronically put our needs aside, we are neglecting ourselves, and consequently our lives become full of many problems. We are not at, or even close to, our best physically, mentally or emotionally. Then we show up as this version of ourselves with the world, with our families, and in our lives.
We tend to blame external circumstances for the problems we are experiencing, however if we are showing up sleep deprived, cranky and miserable, then often the version of ourselves we are showing up as is adding to the problems and making things worse. We react instead of respond, especially with the most important people in our lives, our precious children. I can speak from my own experience that I like the parent I am better when I am feeling well inside and not so much when I am depleted, drained, and down. Can you relate?
Your children are better humans when they receive your love and care. You can give them more love and care when you love and care for yourself first. You will show up as a better, more loving person when your needs have been tended to, when you are rested, centered, and happier.
You are taking care of them, but who is taking care of you?
You need to take care of you lovely. That is your job, and your job alone. It is not your partner’s job or your family’s job. It is not your best friend’s job or your child’s job. It is yours.
I live my life with self care as my foundation but I am no stranger to time constraints of being a parent. That is why I have recorded this podcast and written this blog post, to share with you some surefire ways to build self care into your lifestyle, even as a busy parent with little or no help. These are things I do to make time for myself so I feel sane, centered, calm, and more like myself!
If you are ready to take back your life and your day, while still being an awesome parent, read on and listen to this podcast episode:
insert podcast link here
How do I make time?
There are actually are pockets of time available to us if we are willing to make some changes to how we see our day.
Below are the times in the day that work for me, and I suggest for you lovely. Don’t pressure yourself into trying them all. It’s always best to ease in to something new with one small change at a time. See what works for you and go from there! You can always come back to the other suggestions after a few weeks or months, once you have established one change and feel used to it.
Get up before the kids each morning
This one is key! It’s easy to miss this and just sleep in and get up only when you absolutely have to. However you will be missing these key benefits of waking up before your little munchkins do:
having time to peacefully soothe yourself and be with yourself before the busy-ness of your day begins
centering your day around you (not your babe)
You will feel grounded and at home with yourself if you give yourself this sacred time when it’s super quiet and calm in your home. You can sip your coffee, write in your journal, mediate, work out, go to the bathroom in peace!
I like to wake up at minimum of 1.5 hours before my kids, but don’t let that scare you! I started with 30 minutes (just enough time to sip my coffee in peace and to wash up and get dressed for the day), and built up over time, because I enjoyed this solo time so much. This window of time is also when I get my best writing done and podcasting, thus I wake up extra early whenever I can.
If you are just starting out, I would recommend getting up 30 minutes ahead of your kids so you can feel like you before you give yourself to your lovely family. If you’re ready for more, you can check out my whole morning and self care routine here:
After the kids go to bed
Another built in window of time is after the kids go to bed. However this is best known for binge watching shows and late night snacking. I know because I do this too at times.
However if you can use this time to instead benefit your wellbeing, try to go to bed early when you are clearly tired. And by early I mean, so you have your 7-8 hours of sleep that you’re supposed to be getting, but are likely not getting right now.
At the minimum I wish for you to use this time after the kids are down to implement a soothing night routine.
Getting sufficient sleep is my number one recommendation for starting or improving your self care regimen. The benefits of sufficient sleep are life changing.
Try it to see for yourself.
Getting enough sleep will have you waking up refreshed, clear minded, more positive, and healthier overall as all the cells in your body get a chance to rejuvenate over your full night’s rest.
This will be a nice change from waking up tired, angry, negative, scattered, or frazzled.
A lot of our problems are caused by us being in a less than desirable state. When we are sleep deprived, we make poorer decisions and can’t problem solve as well; we actually end up creating more problems through our negative mindset and state. We react instead of responding, we are less patient, feel attacked or slighted more easily (taking things more personally),we fall ill or get into preventable accidents; we essentially don;t function at our higher selves when we are not rested and replenished, and most importantly, in this state we don’t feel good and we are not parenting at our best.
The good thing about this is there is something we can do about this, we can go to bed on time as often as possible. Sure there will be times when things happen and the kids are up and we have poor sleep, but that doesn’t have to happen every single night on purpose because we are staying up late watching 5 episodes of our favourite show.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with enjoying tv. However when you are doing at the expense of your wellbeing, on a regular basis, you are doing more harm to yourself then good.
When we are in a chronic state of exhaustion, we don’t feel very good, so we look toward external temporary gratification such as food, alcohol, tv, etc, to relieve our discomfort.
We can’t see our way out of the hole we are in, so we just do what we can to try to feel better for now. The relief doesn’t last long however, and the next day we repeat the same behaviours or get even worse, feeling bad about ourselves for indulging.
A lot Of this has to do with our negative self talk, and when we are constantly tired, we are going to have poor mental health and more self loathing and negative internal dialogue.
Now if you are a mother of an infant, this is not really applicable to you as your child is likely still not sleeping through the night.
For parents of younger infants, try to sleep when the baby sleeps, even if it’s short nap. I understand you need to cook and clean while the baby is down, however getting a little bit of much needed rest in will do wonders for your mental health and overall quality of life. Or asking for help from a trusted person so you can rest is something worth considering. A lot of us are too proud to ask for help for things like sleep, however, when you begin to realize that quality sleep is not jut about sleep, it’s about your wellbeing and ultimately how you are showing up in your life, you may begin to see things differently, and feel it permissible to ask for help for this reason.
Plan for a break in the day
For moms of younger children, plan for a break when your chld is napping,
Or plan for a stroller walk where you can get some fresh air and mental space while your child is occupied with the stroll and or falling asleep while you walk!
We all need a break in the middle of the day. No one can be on all the time.
As a parent of school aged children, I take my break while children are having some screen time after their homework is done.
I often use this time for cleaning or cooking, however I also may use it to take a 10 minute nap, or to rest or decompress.
After work I am usually depleted and I want to feel better inside so I can have a peaceful evening wth my children. I don’t like who I become when I am overtired, overstimulated and downright cranky. I find if i rest or snooze for few minutes, i feel somewhat recharged and refreshed, enough to make it through the evening with some mental clarity and emotional stability.
Do something for you each day, spend a few minutes on a passion, hobby, or anything that brings you joy and makes your soul come alive. This doesn’t mean checking off a task of your to-do list, its something you do that the main benefit is for you to feel joy, plain and simple. It’s creative, it’s immersive, it’s mindful.
When you do something for you, it makes you come alive and forget where you are, just for this moment. This recharges you. Detaching from the pressures and motions of the day, you lose yourself, and get lost in the present moment. Your inner self dances with delight, and in that moment you feel joy.
Feeling joy is what life is all about. It’s easy to forget this or push this aside because we have too much to do. But when we push aside our joy for too long, we quickly burn out. However when we learn to balance our priorities with our own needs, feeling joy being one of them, we learn to stay repleenished and more like ourselves again.
How do you make time for you when you have so much else to take care of?
Think of this as mini pockets of time. Aim for for 10 minutes -15 minutes
When you have more time, 30 min to an hour.
Even these short burst of time will add up to a lot. You will still see the benefits of self care even when the time frame is shorter. We don’t need hours upon hours to tend to ourselves. We need to learn to let go of the all or nothing approach and instead welcome in small changes in the time we do have.
I find this really works for me, and I have a feeling it will work for you too lovely.
As mothers we are constantly giving to our children. We give because it feels good to do so. We give and give until we don’t have anything left, and somehow we still find a way to meet their needs even when we have nothing left.
When we are depleted however we are not at our best and truthfully we are not being the best people not to mention parent we can be. I can speak from my own experience that I like the parent I am when I am feeling well inside and not so much when I am depleted.
That is why I have put these tips together for finding time for self care as a mom.