MY ME TIME AS A PARENT
Being a parent can be one of the best feelings in the world. Seeing your baby for the first time,
holding and cuddling them, promising to be the best parent you could ever be. You make a vow never to let them down and be there always, that’s who a parent is.
That being said, I remember thinking how largely my life has changed from being a single young lady, to meeting and marrying my guy (as I call him) to having my first child, that was a life changing moment…but all that feels like light years ago. There is a major difference with my time I had then to ‘whose’ time now! You know, a lot of things you used to do back then you can’t even remember when last you did. Let me give an example, I’m a big fiction novel fan, I used to stop at CMS Lagos just to buy books on my way to work in the mornings, have a stack of them, even a bookshelf for my books. Today? I hardly have the time to shop for books let alone read them. Why? I am a parent! My me time has gone!
Recent research has shown that women today are less happy than they have been over the past 40 years. There are many theories about why, but lack of free time could be a major reason.
I am not referring to only moms, dads are inclusive. Many would agree with me, raising a child is a full time job, even when you are not physically with them, you mentally arrange their things, take notes to pick out their wears, buy stuff for them, do tons of chores all centered around them. That plus if you have a job, part time or full time juggled with having a spouse and children. With all these and life happening, how do you even begin to think of having any ‘me time’, time to yourself, away from work, chores, the children, life? The key to tapping into your ‘me time’ is to be honest about what things make you feel rejuvenated and what drains your energy reserves. There are many activities that you think you’re supposed to like to do, but they stress you out because they take your time or cost too much. Whether you're pacifying toddlers, sleeplessly waiting for your teen to come home, caring for your aging parents, or all of the above, every parent needs an occasional break for sanity's sake. Click To Tweet This means taking time each day to do something for you.
There are different feelings that pop up when you think of having ‘me’ time as a parent; there is the guilt wondering if you should be away from your child(ren), then there is the anxiety wondering how they will survive without you or how they are faring and still more guilt if you actually follow through with spending time away.
Are you constantly saying,
“I just do not have enough time,” or “I am way too busy to do that”?
Most parents probably think the same way you do, and put their children before themselves. Making time to do something you enjoy that is not on your priority list when you have a million things to accomplish every day, but it is important to create time for you. Listen, everyone needs a break, a ‘me’ time, alone or away from the children because that’s a time to recharge your batteries and do what you like/love, or relax, or really need to just for you.
Once when I wasn’t working and I was home with both my young ones, I found out for like a week I was cranky, easily vexed, always taking it out on my husband because the children were too young to understand.
I was constantly always busy fending for them, changing diapers, grooming, keeping them entertained while I still look after the home, it was a very stressful time for me, then I realized I was mainly annoyed because I didn’t get to do anything I really wanted just for me, my world was centered around these children, that was when I decided I needed a time out before I lost my mind.
Then I fixed a Saturday movie hangout with a girlfriend…long story, my husband didn’t make it home that day on time, I ended up not going, there was fireworks at home that day!!…that’s a story for another day, but what I’m saying is, once I made that appointment to hang out, I was excited to be going somewhere fun even for a few hours for just me.
I have found that more often than not, the days where I feel like giving up are the days where I have NOT made time for myself. Even if that time is spent thinking and reflecting on my thoughts it is important for my everyday life. I have a hard time accepting this idea because I feel like as a mom I should not need or want to ‘take a break.’ But, I have found that I am a much happier mom for my children when I have taken ‘me time’.
Even when I am in the toilet, my son knocks on the door and goes ‘mom what are you doing? Come out now’ and I am like seriously babyboy?! I can find no respite anywhere, LOL.
Today, I wanted to share with you how I MAKE the time for myself. I used to think it was all about ‘finding’ time in the day, but it is all about ‘making the time.’ Motherhood can be daunting and extremely difficult. I definitely have some really rough days and get stressed easily, but I have found that making time for yourself is extremely beneficial and I am no longer going to feel guilty about it.
Here are a few suggestions on how to create some time Your Me Time as a Parent
Write down your day:
This may seem pretty odd, but try writing down everything you did today. You may think that you have zero time left over, but when you have it in writing you can see what you actually spent time doing. You can even try doing this for tomorrow by writing down your tasks and the amount of time it took. You may be surprised with all the extra time you have throughout the day.
Make it a priority and schedule it into your list:
I recently talked about how you can get more done every day by prioritizing your to-do list and planning ahead. By making your ‘me time’ a priority you can block off a specific time during the day to spend doing what you choose. Even if this means waking up before your kids or taking advantage of nap time.
This may mean you have to give up something else during your day to be able to schedule this time in. I do struggle with this a lot because when I do wake up before my kids I want to get something else more important done, but I have taught myself that this is important for my health and well-being as a mom. When I have this extra half an hour in the morning to myself I feel like my day goes a lot smoother.
Simplify your to-do list:
Try not to cram so many activities which you need to do in one day. Learn to work smart. You can space heavy work to be done over a period of days in order not to wear yourself out. That way, you can get moments of rest in between.
Stick to your schedule:
Sometimes, emergencies come up and you may need to alter your plans but as long as things are going smoothly, in order to achieve your time goals, it’s better to stick to the schedule and work according to plan.
Some activities like the following may help enhance your ‘me time’ opportunities :
- Wake up earlier than usual – you can do things for yourself a lot when everyone is asleep
- Take advantage of your commute – e. g traffic time if you are not driving to read a book, make a needed friendship call
- Ask for help – get a babysitter for when you want to go out to do your nails or hair or hang out. In Nigeria, to be on the safe side, that may mean a relative like your mom or younger sister or even your brother in-law. It’s very important to have someone reliable watch your home, makes it easier with the guilt feeling
- Take turns – you and your spouse can take turns watching the children, then the other person can find time to relax and be up to speed with life
- Set boundaries – You may think you can get everything done each day, but it may not be possible. I have found that accepting this fact has made it easier to make time doing things that I enjoy during the day. I like to set boundaries by also saying ‘no’ to some requests sometimes. You can’t do it all, so realize that.
Enjoy yourself to the fullest with no guilt trips – Savour every minute spent away from your family because it’s one way of getting refreshed in order to be a better person for them.
You have to find what works for you and make out time for yourself, enjoy your day, read a book, take a stroll, watch TV, sleep, whatever, just create time.
Fellow parents please share your suggestions as to how you achieve your ‘me time’ with us, how do you create alone time for yourself? What activities do you engage in when you get those precious moments? This could help new parents or those struggling to find a balance.