As a busy mom being pulled in one million directions, you may often feel that the days of “me time” are long gone. Or maybe every time you get a chance to take some time for yourself, the guilt sets in and that looming to-do list haunts you. While you can’t physically create more time in a day (we only have 24 hours to work with no matter what), you can always find ways to make time for yourself. Here are some tips to free up even just a few extra minutes of time for yourself each day.
The Importance of “Me Time”
It may be hard to wrap your head around, but the best way to improve productivity and get more done is actually to do less. There is no shortage of research backing up the importance of rest and relaxation on a daily basis. Dr. K. Anders Ericsson and colleagues found that the best performers in a variety of fields work in focused, uninterrupted 90-minute sessions with a substantial break between each session. These people accomplish more in just a 4.5-hour workday than many who work 8+ hours! Keep this in mind next time you're trying to push through all that you "have to get done" when you really just want to kick your feet up for a few minutes.
Evaluate the things you are wasting your time on
Do you constantly check your emails or get lost in social media throughout the day? Do you run to the grocery store every day for 1 or 2 items instead of making one large trip weekly? Do you obsess over folding each item of laundry perfectly instead of just getting the job done? Think about all those activities that are causing you to “lose” precious minutes that could be spent more productively or better yet, spent relaxing or doing something that fills you with joy. Practice letting go of perfection in certain tasks or feeling like you have to get everything done each day. Will the world come to an end if the dishes aren’t put away right this minute? It is highly unlikely. Do you really need to check your email 10 times throughout the day or can you instead make time in the morning and evening to do so? Analyze your typical day for ways you can save yourself time.
No, we aren’t talking about the children here! Some distractions just can’t be avoided. But if you are constantly finding yourself being interrupted by the phone ringing or the obsessive need to check Facebook every 30 minutes, turn off the phone and/or computer. Schedule time to make phone calls and check social media. Be more productive with the things you need to get done each day so you have more time to spend on yourself.
Let Go of the Guilt and Excuses
Have you ever found yourself making excuses for not taking time to relax? Excuses like, “there’s just not enough time in the day” or “even when I have time, there’s still other things that need to get done.” Maybe you’ve found yourself kicking back on the couch during nap time for the first time that day, but instantly being bombarded with guilt over the ten things you should be doing. Well, GET OVER IT. The “stuff” can wait. If your kids are napping or playing quietly and they don’t need your attention right that minute and you’ve already spent a good chunk of time on productive things, TAKE A BREAK. Make some tea, read a book, let yourself relax. Even if it is only for 10 minutes, know that you more than deserve it.
Cut out the clutter
You probably feel like your to-do list is a mile long and never ending, but is it really all things that you have to do? Are there items you can delegate to your children or spouse? Do the windows really need to be washed today? Is there any way you can afford to pay someone for an hours worth of babysitting time or an hour of housework so you can get a break?
Schedule in “Me Time”
Time to yourself is just as important as the time you spend on everything else. If you are a stay at home mom, you deserve a break just as much (if not more, let’s be real) as a full time employee with legally mandated breaks. Commit to at least 15-20 minutes of time for yourself each day. This is time you spend doing something you actually enjoy that makes you happy. If you are with the kids all day, schedule your me time when they are napping or enjoying their own quiet time. If you are a morning person, try waking up 20 minutes before the rest of the family. If nights are your thing, schedule time to yourself right before you go to bed. Make your “me time” a part of your daily ritual.
Take Advantage of Free Childcare
If you feel like all of the time spent with your children is running you ragged or you really feel it’s impossible to take breaks when you are with them, take advantage of free childcare (or pay for an occasional babysitter if you can afford it). Many gyms and even grocery stores offer short intervals of free childcare while you are at their business. Take that time to work out, shop, or even just enjoy 30 minutes to get lost in your own thoughts.
Steal 5-10 Minutes Here and There
Even in the midst of one of the craziest days ever, you should always be able to steal a few minutes here and there to re-center yourself, take some deep breaths, and just relax. Bring along your favorite book next time you’re sitting in the school pick-up line. Let the kids take an extra long bath while you flip through a gossip magazine. Look for the small ways you can decompress, even in the midst of your daily chaos.