Parenthood is demanding. Juggling life, work, friends, family and trying to carve out a few minutes a week just for you. It can all seem like an impossible task. Often what gets neglected is time for you. And a little self care is often overshadowed by the constant list of chores, playdates and dinners.
Just as you get your routine locked in, your foolproof strategies in place, and your work/home life juggling act perfected, summer comes along and ruins it. Without childcare or summer camp sorted, you now have to add keeping your kids entertained all day to that long to do list. It can seem impossible to find time for you when your kids aren’t at school. And that ‘me time’ you had scheduled in goes out the window.
Why self-care is so important
We are constantly fed this idea that mums can do it all. That a good mum is some sort of superhero that can happily survive on 2 hours sleep, always sacrifices her own needs and on top of that has time to paint her nails and shave her legs too. This idea is unhealthy, unrealistic and a sure recipe for burnout. It’s not possible to do everything for everybody. And giving yourself time to unwind and process your day is often the first thing to go when life is busy.
You need to have time and space to relax and unwind. Otherwise you’re not going to have the energy or head space to deal with life. Or your kids. Or their hourly demands for snacks, attention and “just one more” spin.
How to find time for you when your kids aren’t at school
But how do you find time for you when your kids aren’t at school? Here are three things that can help you carve out a little more time for you this summer holidays.
- Make sure your thoughts aren’t getting in the way
How you think about finding time to rest will be the strongest determinant of whether you’ll make time for it or not. You need to remember that you’re a priority. It’s just as important that you get what you need each day as it is that your kids that too.
This may mean that you make sure everyone leaves the park half an hour earlier than they want to, that you have to say no when someone asks you for help or that you prioritise yourself over household tasks that can wait. And that might mean making friends with some difficult feelings (hello guilt) that have stopped you from doing that ‘til now. But these will fade with time.
Self-care is a necessity for mental health and physical wellbeing. It’s not a luxury that you can only afford once you finish the never ending ‘to do’ list. That time will never come (I’m sorry to say).
So if you want to get some rest this summer, make sure that you don’t have any thoughts about what you “should” or “shouldn’t” do that are getting in your way.
2. Plan. Plan. Plan
The fact is that you probably do have less time now you’re a parent then you once did. And that’s where planning comes in. There will be a small window of time somewhere in your day. It might be 10 minutes after the kids fall asleep before you start your evening, 5 minutes to sit with a cup of tea before starting dinner or time in the evening when you usually end up scrolling on social media.
The key is planning in advance so that you can take advantage of these moments. Plan in advance where and when you’re going to make time for you and what you’re going to do then. It takes all the deciding out and means you’re more likely you’ll do what you intended.
You don’t need to plan in large chunks of time to rest (although that would obviously be lovely). Small pockets of time can help sustain you just as well. And will make a difference to how you feel.
It doesn’t matter when you plan your time for you; in the morning, evening or adhoc. But making sure that you do something daily will make a difference to how you feel in the long-term.
3. Do as Nike said and “just do it”
There’s lots of reasons why people don’t follow through on their well-made plans. It’s easy to forget them or not feel like it when the time comes.
It’s often easier (especially when tired) to do what feels nicer in the moment… scrolling a little longer on social media, watching one more episode, lying on the sofa for five more minutes. Even though it won’t help you in the long-term. Doing what you know is best for you, when it requires more effort, is hard. So you have two options; either make it easier (e.g. get your props ready in advance, meditate for 2 minutes instead of 10) or do what Nike told you to do and “just do it”.
If you said you would go do that 5 minute meditation before making dinner, just do it. If you have a bedtime routine, just do it. If you planned to put turn your phone off my 9pm, just do it. Future you will thank you. Make yourself reminders and stick them up where you need and remind yourself of the reasons why you wanted to take more rest time for yourself in the first place. One of my clients always asks themselves “what would I do if I respected myself” and uses that as a way of guiding themselves to do the things they know they need.
If you’d like to incorporate a few more pauses into your day, this short meditation will help you do just that. Make sure to subscribe to our youtube channel for more short meditations coming this summer.
Have a wonderful summer and I hope this helps you take some more time for you