Not a unique story: I became a mom, started juggling work, pregnancies, babies then toddlers, the cooking, the cleaning (or lack thereof)… and somehow, I kind of lost myself. The harsh realization came one day at work. There I was, sitting in a seminar with about twenty other professionals. We were doing an icebreaker (does anyone actually enjoy them?) and going around the room sharing what we did for fun. Hm. What *did* I do for fun? Why can’t I think of anything? When was the last time I…? And panic set in. I didn’t do a single thing for myself, outside of occasionally reading a book. I didn’t take time for myself, well, ever.
It was a wake-up call. A few nights later my husband suggested I take some time to myself and pick up a hobby, and I snapped back, “I don’t have time for that!” Ouch. Honestly, I didn’t make time for it. There was so much going on (when isn’t there?) that I made myself the absolute lowest priority in our family. But that kind of thinking isn’t sustainable. This is why moms are constantly burnt out and overwhelmed. If my therapist has taught me anything, it’s that I need to remember to take breaks for myself. Not only does it make me a better mom, but it also has a huge effect on my mental health and overall wellbeing. I am reclaiming my ‘me’ time.
I started scheduling in my me time. Marked it in my planner and everything. Whenever I got a Friday off (I work on a rotation) I would drop my son off at school and instead of heading home, stop in at my favorite coffee shop. Two hours of reading, writing, music, people watching, and drinking a delicious hot coffee reinvigorated me and gave me the space to breathe without being responsible for a child or a job.
Are you rolling your eyes and thinking “must be nice?” Yeah, I know. That was my response when I saw other moms posting their photos to social media. It must be nice to have that kind of free time — there’s no way I could make that happen. But really, I could. You can, too.
Schedule it. Otherwise, you’ll lose track of time and two months will go by with no break. You’ll keep putting it off because it’s “not as important”. But it is.
Find a caregiver. It might feel like it’s impossible if you have little ones, right? But it shouldn’t be. Hand over the responsibility to your partner for a few hours. Hire a babysitter. Call in a family member. None of those possible? Set up a care swap with a friend in the same boat!
Make a list. The first morning I went off by myself, I froze. What am I going to do? How do I make these two hours count? You’ve gotta make a list. What have you always wanted to try? What do you never have time for? Do it!
A few ideas…
💡 Solo coffee date!
💡 Schedule a service (hair, nails, massage)
💡 Take a hike and explore nature.
💡 Pick up a paintbrush.
💡 Simply write.
Please, give it a try. Make it a regular occurrence and most importantly: don’t feel guilty about it. Don’t use that time to try to catch up on other obligations — that defeats the purpose! You will be shocked at what a difference a two-hour creative break can make on your outlook and general wellbeing. Please, don’t knock it before you try it. And let me know how it works out for you!