Given the work I do daily with so many amazingly strong, tuned-in, competent juggling moms, a little bit of smoke comes out of my ears every time I read lines like, it’s so important to set aside “me time” every single day to be an even better mom and wife!
So many of us parents feel like we are already scrambling to find the ultimate “balance” — that sweet spot where we are able to seamlessly get everything done in our work and home lives with satisfaction. (With a smile to mask the sweat of course.)
And of course, we are still supposed to make time to exercise, cook healthy organic meals from scratch, meditate, clean up all of the crap and clutter that seems to magically appear all over the house daily, do 16 loads of laundry (and then find time to fold it), volunteer for the causes near to our hearts, and of course –make sure our kids feel heard, loved, secure, and are thriving at school and in their dozens of extracurricular activities.
Oh, and did I mention, we also need to focus on our relationships and with regularly scheduled date nights to keep the connection strong?
Maybe if I had octopus arms, eight more hours in the day and a personal staff of 20 I’d be all set.
Puts. Me. Over. The. Edge.
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As a working mom who often feels like a circus clown trying to keep all those balls up in the air, I wish it could be that simple.
As if all we have to do is say, “Why, yes! I am going to get regular massages and do yoga and get 9 hours of sleep and finally learn how to play the French horn and learn a new language and my life will be totally balanced and fulfilling!”
And while it does sound amazing to build in a daily dose of me-time, so many of those self-help articles and “you can do it!” books really aren’t that helpful.
Hahaha yeah….right. This all day.
Photo: Alexandra Gorn
It’s like the guarantees of personal fulfillment if you’d only do ______ just adds another layer of guilt around the idea that now there’s one more thing in life I’m not doing well enough.
Are you nodding along? Good!
Not because because it’s good to feel this way — but because it’s good to know you’re not alone. And you’re not.
Hey, I’m in this boat right along with you. And I do this for a living! So I want to share with you just how I work through all this added pressure to figure out me-time. Because isn’t it ridiculous that we now feel guilt for not relaxing?
It’s all about what I think of as “realistic me-time.” Without all the stress.
1. Define what me-time looks like for you
Just 5 minutes alone in a place you love can work wonders.
Photo: Clarke Sanders
Let’s recalibrate for reality. It might not be as cool or luxurious as it appears in US Weekly or in our head, but it’s good for us just the same.
For some of us it might be a new hobby, coffee with a friend, an exercise class we love or a half-hour to escape into a novel before bed. Sometimes, and for many of us who work and parent, it might simply be some fresh air or time to sit for a moment while walking your dog alone.
It might be the extra 10 minutes in the shower to just have some escape time to quiet your mind. It might be the phone call to your college roommate on your way to work.
And somedays it just might not happen.
But, noticing the times throughout the day you do truly enjoy yourself that are not about checking a task off the list. That’s your me-time.
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2. Do more of it
I’m talking about those little things I identified above that don’t take up too much time or add pressure. If you can build in bigger blocks of time doing what you love, that’s wonderful and you should absolutely do it! But for others, it might be simply adding five more minutes onto your walk with your dog, or an extra ten minutes reading your book. Maybe it’s just one more phone call this week to a friend who always makes you laugh.
Whatever it is, do it.
It’s not a commitment that will add to your list or take away from those essential activities that need to happen; more like a a tiny break or new way to use your time that makes you feel like you again.
3. Accept what is
This sounds ridiculously simple, so I understand if you want roll your eyes right now, but hear me out.
As moms we have an absurd amount of “stuff” we are doing, planning, organizing and managing and there are definitely some times in our lives that building in daily me-time will be more stressful than rejuvenating. That’s okay. That’s more than okay.
Accept the things you cannot change; what is, is.
Journal by Wander Paper Journals on Etsy
You will have opportunities and stages and phases of work and family life where it’s easier to take some daily time for you, to do what you love. And if that time isn’t right now this very second, don’t let it make you feel guilty.
Instead, try to use this observation as a way to add something new into your priority list for when (and only when) you have a little break or reprieve.
Related: 3 of our favorite meditation apps to help keep you calm without a lot of commitment.
4. Book out
Once we’ve given ourselves the grace to understand we are each in a different chapter of our own story, we can build some me-time into our calendar so that it’s set aside in a way that work for you and your own busy life.
For example, daily yoga might not work for you, but a weekly lunch with good friends will. Or maybe a monthly dinner out, or a Sunday night date with a new adults-only Netflix show.
Or perhaps try a book club — one that takes place during a weekly morning walk with a friend you love spending time with.
There are so many possibilities!
Anything that lights you up, re-energizes you (or slows you down) that you can plan ahead so it doesn’t add stress into your daily life.
5. Crush the guilt
You hear this a lot from me, but only because it’s such a common thread between so many of us. We have enough things we already feel guilty about, that not taking enough daily time for ourselves shouldn’t be another one of them! That should be something that makes us feel good, not not-good-enough.
Mom guilt doesn’t help us, it hurts us.
Let’s use this startling research that me-time is important to actually empower us, not to discourage or deflate us.
And don’t forget to breathe!
Photo: Tim Goedhart
Let’s be mindful of when, how, where and what we can do to have a little more of it in ways that make us truly feel better, in ways that work for us as individuals — not in ways that add more pressure or another task to our already overflowing to-do list.
So let’s notice, be mindful, do a little more when we can, schedule it out and enjoy it when you we it.
In the meantime, I’ll be using my me-time today browsing for those extra 6 arms I need on Amazon Prime. I’ll let you know how that goes.
Jackie Insinger is a Denver mom of two, a Motivation and Communication Expert and a nationally acclaimed Family Dynamics Coach with a Masters from Harvard University in Human Development and Psychology. She hosts the regular Denver area TV segment Parent 2 Parent, and she’s also the newest CMP contributor, whoo!
Very top image: Jacalyn Beales