There’s an epidemic running rapid around these parts, ladies, and it involves you! We aren’t taking enough time for ourselves. I know what you might be thinking, “After caring for the kids and running a household, there isn’t enough time in the day.” That may be true for some days, but there are ways to work self care into our daily schedule. I have five ways for you, hopefully one or more will speak to you.
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1. Be militant about bedtime and become a morning/night Person
Let’s face it, the only way a lot of us are going to have any time for ourselves is going to be when the kids are asleep. It won’t be easy at first, especially if your children don’t currently have a bedtime. Stick to your guns. The payout will be sweet. When my girls were four and one years old, I wasn’t the best about putting them both to bed at the same time. My four year old would go to bed at eight o’clock, but my one year old would stay up until she was tired. She would walk around and get into all the toys her sister had just put away. There wasn’t ever any alone time for us once she finally fell asleep because we were so beat from the running around ourselves. It was chaos. Until…we finally got her on a scheduled bedtime. It was like we were alive again. Use that time as your self-care time. Don’t waste it on laundry. You can spare 15 minutes of laundry or dishes for your sanity. If night time is too late for you, and you are just too tired to even think about anything other than sleep once the kids are in bed, fine. Wake up early. Either way, you need your alone time and I have some ideas about what you can do with it.
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I’m a dreamer. Always have been. It’s something that I believe a lot people lose as they get older. We’re so conditioned to be focused on one or more tasks that we often forget to allow our mind to wonder. Of course, please use caution with this self-care timeout. Daydreaming is not advised during the use of heavy machinery or sharp objects. The last thing anyone needs is a severed finger.
Remember the good things in life when you are daydreaming. I say that only for those mom’s out there that are worry-warts, myself included. Daydream about the weekend; about your child coming home from school grateful for your help on their book report because they got an A; or about that flourless chocolate cake you’ve been working hard at the gym to earn. Pick something positive that will take your mind off the daily stresses of life.
3. Escape through music and dance
I don’t care if you have rhythm or not. That song comes on the radio or your iPod, you know the song, and you can’t help but tap your foot. When was the last time you danced? Dancing with the kids is fun, but when was the last time you really let loose? Next time you have 15 minutes to spare and the kids are asleep, pop in those earbuds, turn up the music, and dance like no one is looking.
4. Get Obsessed with Something
Don’t go out and start stalking Jimmy Fallon. Get obsessed with knitting, reading the latest thriller, or binge watching The Mindy Project on Hulu. This suggestion is certainly more of a time commitment. Perhaps the Sunday your parents take the kids for a couple of hours would be prime time. The point is your mind is on something else, preferably something you like.
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5. Set a Goal
As moms it’s easy to put everyone else’s needs and wants first but we cannot forget about our children’s role model: Us! I think I can confidently say that every parent wants their child to achieve more than they have – to evolve the family name. Why not start with you? A very wise man, perhaps you’ve heard of him (insert sarcastic tone) Gandhi, once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Ladies, we are that change. We have to demonstrate to our children that it is OKAY to take time to develop yourself and grow personally. Persistence and determination will be the outcome. Those values will be instilled in our children. They’ll learn from mom the meaning of achievement and self-worth.
Aside from that, you may even teach them other things along the way. Earlier this year, I made a vow to lose 50 pounds. I started eating healthier food and being more active. As a mom, that isn’t easy. We want to finish that last chicken tender they didn’t eat, or we easily talk ourselves out of working out because we have to do this or that. When I started working out, I brought my oldest daughter along. We’d go on bike rides, race around the small track at the park, or stop to do the exercise stations at the park. She asked me one day, “Mom, why do you run everywhere now?” Now, I have to say I love this because I’m by no means a runner but in her eyes I was Speedy Gonzalez. It was a perfect opportunity to talk to her about health and taking care of our bodies. When we had our next movie night, I popped in Wall-E and used scenes from the movie to reiterate the importance of staying active and making healthy food choices. It worked out to be a great learning experience for her and she ended up being a good accountability partner for me. Win, win!
The point is we need to take care of ourselves. We need to be fully present with our family but in order to do that we can’t be caught up in our to-do list. By sneaking in some needed self-care, we are protecting ourselves from burnout and perhaps a mommy meltdown. You deserve it!