As we head into fall and the holidays, we enter once again the world of the stressed-out mommy: too many activities, too many PTA meetings, lost lunches, permission slips, and homework. The stresses of having an active family can sometimes be exhausting.
Time For Ourselves
In between taking care of a family, devoting time to a spouse, and working – either inside or outside of the home – we are often left with little, if any, time for ourselves.
Having too little “me time” is a common refrain among many moms, and yet, for many of us, we might not even recognize it as a problem at all.
It’s simply the way it is, or we think that the children are only young for this little while. We think that once they graduate (to middle school / high school / college), THEN we will have time for ourselves.
Well, five years (or ten years, or twelve years) is a long time to wait.
As we have all heard before, there is no time like the present. And though we still want to give everything to our children, we have to find that little spark that is still distinctly our own. After all, we cannot fill another’s cup if our own is empty.
Here Are Some Signs That We Might Have Neglected Our Own Life:
- We find that we can never say no – no matter who it is (see our article on this topic here).
- We keep very busy all of the time, and talk about how busy we are whenever anyone asks how we are doing.
- We occasionally forget or overschedule activities.
- We feel guilty about not spending enough time with our children, and then become overly permissive.
- We are quick to anger.
- We occasionally feel trapped, stretched too thin, or as if we work very hard, but don’t get to enjoy much of our lives
Do you feel this way sometimes?
If these sign-posts don’t alert you to the possibility that you need some time to yourself to reconnect with your inner child or whatever is important in your world, then think on this: your children are tied to your emotional well-being. If you are stressed, they pick up on it and react to it.
Asking Questions Can Create Clarity
- Have you noticed more dissonance in your family lately?
- Do you wish that you and your children did not have rounds of arguing or not speaking to each other?
- Do we want our children to see us as someone who is continually stressed out?
As role models for our children, we want to model emotional health. This is not to say that having time to yourself will magically fix every family concern, however it will give you perspective, and more, it will allow you the time to rejuvenate and return home full of joy and excitement.
So How Do We Find More Time For Ourselves?
Look into your activities with your children.
What could you give up in order to have more quality time with them, instead of rushing between practices, tutors, and meetings?
What is truly important to you or them? Perhaps limit each child to one activity or sport per season. We have a lot of preconceived notions in our culture that every child must be an ace at all things (scholastic and athletic) in order to get into a good college, but the truth is, a college would rather see a child be very passionate about one thing and prove that passion.
Perhaps wake up earlier than everyone else each day in order to have at least half an hour to yourself. Spend it in quiet contemplation, a walk, or reading a fun novel. (Not checking email!)
It’s also possible to get a little more “me” time if we give up some of our television time. Maybe go to a coffee shop and read instead of watching our favorite shows at night– after all, the shows will always be on the DVR.
Now that you have found that time, come up with a schedule, and speak to your spouse and children about it – no matter their age. Even a very little child will understand if you tell them that occasionally, mommy needs time to recharge her battery and feel good again. Alone.
Schedule your time for yourself just like you would any other activity. Whatever time you designate - lunch breaks, early mornings, Saturday mornings – make sure to guard it as well as you would a soccer tournament or hair appointment. (It will take a couple of weeks of adjustment for family or others, but once you get used to saying “no, I have something during that time”, it will get easier!)
During your time for yourself, do not do any chores or errands. Make sure that you leave the house. This is a time that is just for you. Ideas can include:
- Perhaps try a new class, or a new hobby.
- Go visit that crafts store, or join that running group.
- Or, alternatively, find a nice park or a fun new restaurant.
- Explore being alone, at least for the first few weeks.
Afterwards, determine your needs. How did the session go? Do you need more time away? If so, see what else can be changed.
Giving Ourselves The Gift Of Choices
The key here is realizing that we always have choices, in whatever we choose to do. It may seem as if we have no choice but to have Tommy in baseball every day and Clara in soccer twice a week, but we do get to make choices about those things. And we do have choices in how we spend our down-time, too.
A trained psychotherapist can also help us find new ways to help us recharge. Working to identify possible obstacles, even if they are our own creations, is something that a therapist can help with. They will gently steer us towards finding that precious time for ourselves.
At Nassau Guidance, we work with mothers and families to find the emotional support that every parent needs and deserves, and help families to find more joy together. We offer years of experience in family practice and a caring environment. Come talk to us!
- Renee Trudeau’s book: Nurturing the Soul of Your Family.