I don’t know about you, but I’m an introvert. I NEED time to myself in order to stay sane, probably more than most. Unfortunately, however, alone time can be pretty difficult to come by as a mom. Even when I’m not busy getting my children another snack, another drink, another toy, etc etc every five minutes, there’s dinner to make, a house to clean and about a million other things on my to-do list every day (give or take).
It’s understandable. Society constantly tells us we need to do and give more, more, more. But I’m here to tell you that you don’t. Whether you want some downtime to read a great book or take a nap, you need and deserve at least some time to yourself. Here’s how you can get it.
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1. Wake Up Early or Stay Up Late
All of the traditional advice out there will tell you to get up before your kids do in the mornings. While waking up early to start the day with a cup of coffee and the Word does sound like a great way to begin a fantastic day, it simply isn’t always going to be possible.
If you can manage to drag yourself out of bed in the mornings–that’s great! But if you prefer to stay up after the kids have gone to bed to have your quiet time then instead, that’s okay too. It doesn’t matter when you have your quiet times, just as long as you do.
2. Use Nap Times Wisely
Another great time to sneak some time for yourself is when your children are napping, assuming they still do. Nap time is precious time. Do NOT spend it cleaning the house. Instead, as soon as the kids go down for a nap, steal a few quiet minutes to yourself to relax and rejuvenate. Read a book, take a nap, do whatever you like! You work hard; you need it and you deserve it. (Hint: If your kids no longer nap, institute “quiet time” instead.)
*See Also: When You Don’t Feel Like Being a Good Mom
3. Schedule Activities in Advance
As a busy mom, it can become all too easy to get so caught up in the day-to-day that you completely forget or neglect to take some time for yourself. This is why it is so important to schedule out activities for yourself in advance–because then you are more likely to actually do them. Call a friend and make a date or simply mark your favorite activity on your calendar in bright ink. This will help make sure you actually make time for it when the day rolls around.
4. Ask for and Accept Help
Why is it that women (myself included) are so bad at asking for and accepting help? It’s like there’s this unspoken rule that we all have to be superwoman, and yet we all know that simply isn’t true. The fact is, your friends WANT to help. Why not let them?
5. Arrange a Trade
Alternately, if you have difficulty asking for help, another solution is to negotiate a trade. This way, you don’t have to feel guilty because everyone gets something out of it. Watch your friend’s children on Monday in exchange for her watching yours on Thursday. Help her catch up on laundry and housework in exchange for her cooking you a meal so you don’t have to. There are plenty of things you can barter and trade; get creative!
6. Teach Your Kids to Be Independent
Do you ever feel like you are constantly at your children’s beck and call? That you can barely sit down because someone always needs something? While this may be fairly inescapable during the infant and toddler years, once your children reach a couple of years old, they really can start doing things for themselves if you let them.
Not only do little kids love getting to do things “all by self,” but you might just find yourself with a lot more time on your hands, but right now and in the future as they get in the habit of independence.
7. Capture Small Pockets of Time
I think, if we all sat down to record a minute by minute account of our days, we would all be surprised by just how much time we do have during the day that simply goes wasted. How many times do you check in on Facebook or Pinterest throughout the day? How often do you waste five minutes here and there in between activities or while waiting in line?
Instead of letting these small pockets of time go to waste, plan to use them wisely. Carry a book with you at all times so you can read, even if only a few pages at a time. Complete a few steps on whatever hobby you enjoy. Take a minute to yourself to breathe in deep and thank God for all He has done for you.
This is a concept Jessica Turner explains more in-depth in her book, The Fringe Hours, and it makes a lot of sense! Even if all you have is five minutes at a time, you might just be surprised at how much they add up when you plan to use them wisely.
*If you are interested in activities you can do in your few spare moments of alone time, check out this list of Christian podcasts and this list of Christian YouTubers! They are great to listen to here and there for a little spiritual pick-me-up!
Why Taking Time for Yourself is Important
Honestly, one of the most difficult parts of taking time for yourself isn’t finding the time, it’s deciding to make it a priority. As moms, it’s only natural to put others first. The thing is, though, you can’t take care of others if you never take care of yourself. It’s like on an airplane–you have to put on your own oxygen mask before you can help others with theirs.
Taking time for yourself will help you relax, recharge and refocus. It will increase your patience, love and focus. It will help you appreciate the time you do have with your family more. It will help you remember who you are as a person–not just a mom.
Whether you only get five minutes to yourself here or there or you’re lucky enough to get a whole five-day vacation with friends, take it! You’ll be a better mom because of it. Really.
How often do you get time to yourself? When do you find it? Is it enough?