Mother of the year over here.
Whether you question my methods or not (the majority of my friends on my Facebook feed thought it was brilliant -- and I suddenly I knew a lot of folks with very clean kitchen floors), finding ways to make time for "me time" -- the precious, oftentimes elusive period where you get to spend a few minutes or even a few hours doing whatever it is you want to do -- reading a book, playing a game, watching television, or even something more luxurious like visiting a spa or getting a massage. Whatever way you choose to spend your me time is wonderful, the key is actually finding those priceless moments in an action-packed day.
Even with a little one at home, where you are undoubtedly part of a busy family, it is possible to find some time for yourself if you just think creatively and are willing to preplan a bit. Here's how:
- Acknowledge that while your child's needs are important, so are yours. Don't be afraid to set aside some time for yourself. Just a few minutes a day can go a long way to rejuvenating your spirit.
- Create a family calendar where everyone's activities and appointments can be found and listed in one place. Hang it in a central location so everyone is aware of what is up for the day. By keeping tabs on what you need to do each day ahead of time, and staying on schedule, you are eliminating the last minute, pull-your-hair-out craze.
- Set your alarm a bit earlier than when you usually wake up, long (or not so long) before your kids do. Don't hit the snooze button!
- Use a DVR or TiVo-type device to watch TV. By eliminating the commercials, you can watch an hour-long program in just 44 minutes and a half-hour long program in a mere 22.
- Grocery shop online rather than in the store.
- Multi-task. Fold laundry while you watch television. Sure, you are doing a chore, but why not make it enjoyable?
- Accept help. Did your husband offer to make dinner? Say yes (and if he didn't, ask him to). Is your mom always wanting to take the kids overnight? Let her. You do not have to do it all, all the time.
- Turn off your cell phone, even if it's just for 10 minutes.
- If your preschooler is getting too big for a nap, you can still set aside some quiet time. Put him in his room (or any room that is kid safe)with toys and books and let him play by himself for an hour.
- Establish a morning routine for you and your kids and stick to it. Staying organized will give you more time in the end.
- Learn how to say no. When you have children, it's easy to get caught up in all the requests -- bake sales, carpools, and the like, but you do not have to do it all. Give yourself permission to decline things once in a while.
- Make all your meals for the week in one day. Freeze and reheat.
- Go to bed a little later than normal.
- Make your lunch hour about you. If you work in an office, don't eat at your desk or wherever it is you work. Go for a walk or sit in the car instead. Try not to run errands, read a book or listen to some music.
- Listen to audio books in the car.
- Buy birthday gifts and cards in advance, in bulk (see this great advice in action with celebrity mom Joan Lunden.
- Hire a babysitter—even a few hours a month can be rejuvenating!
- Make sure kids go to bed at the same time every night.
- See if you can set up a babysitting exchange with some mom friends. Everyone takes a turn and everyone gets a few hours to themselves.
- Take a night off. Once a week, when your kids are in bed, instead of doing the dishes or folding the laundry, choose an activity you like to do instead.