Any way you slice it, motherhood brings added “to dos”, shifting priorities, and not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything on the list. The thing that most often is sacrificed for me is time to do my own thing — whether by myself or with friends. To be alone with my thoughts or to escape all my thinking for the day and do something mindless and fun is a luxury.
I sometimes think back on my single days, or even just my pre-parenting days, in awe of how much free time and flexibility I wasted. If I get a couple hours to myself now, I have found myself spinning my wheels I’m so crazed to maximize it!
This “craze” got me thinking. First, I really truly need this time, or I wouldn’t react so strongly when I manage to get it. And second, I need to have a plan for when I get it, to make the most of it, so as not to waste it! I’m looking at you, iPhone, which I can mindlessly waste an hour on doing nothing.
Sometimes doing nothing and zoning out is exactly what I need. We ALL need that. But more often than not, I feel my time is best spent if I have something to show for it. Then the benefit extends beyond the hour or two I initially took for myself. Maybe it’s reading that book everyone seems to be talking about, so I can join in the conversation next time. Or maybe it’s a run that clears my head and helps me relieve stress for the whole following week.
If I plan it right, I can make this self care time count well beyond the minutes I spend taking it.
Tapping Into What You Want / Need
Recently someone gifted me a planner that breaks down large goals into monthly, weekly, and daily phases. The point is to not get overwhelmed, but still keep your eyes on the bigger goals at hand. It regularly prompts me to think about “one new thing to learn this week.” The journal also leaves space for progression on “passion projects”.
This planner has been so helpful in prioritizing ME and brainstorming all the things I want to do. I started making a list, and it quickly got long.
I love having a running list of ideas to pull from when I score some elusive time to myself. Schedule a painting class? Yes. Try out that Pure Barre studio? Check. Run more. Read more. The list goes on and on.
Some of the items on my list were SO simple.
“Get outside more.” Yes, I’m outside all the time with my son, but what I meant by this was quiet time, in nature, to think, read, just be. There was no reason not to immediately implement this one. I found a park near work, made the conscious decision to take a real lunch hour, and ignored my phone.
You guys…It was AMAZING. I sat in the shade and listened to a quick podcast. Then I took out my headphones and journaled a little in my planner. Then I simply laid there on the blanket in a perfect temperature. My shoes were off. I was away from the office, and I simply breathed in the air and listened to the trees.
Yes, the girl who doesn’t really “do nature” was loving every minute of this. Sometimes we’re more starved for the simple stuff than we realize. The best part? I’ve committed to do this every week. It’s something to look forward to. I’ll have to move it inside to a library or a coffee shop when the snow flies,. But turning off the pull of all other responsibilities will stay the same.
Finding the Time
Not everything can be done over a lunch hour, and I realize not everyone has a childcare-covered lunch hour to begin with. But making it a priority has forced me to get creative.
My husband and I regularly take a night of the week that is ours to be off call from the whole dinner/bedtime/overall parenting thing. Every once in a while, I can justify the cost of a sitter for a couple hours if my husband is working or out of town. You can even get a friend on the self care bandwagon and trade off days to watch each others’ littles. Schedule it with each other on an ongoing basis, so you know you’ll get the time, and plan for it.