Why It’s Not Selfish For You To Take Quality Time for Yourself

Have you ever booked consistent childcare for Saturday mornings?

Or what about booking three days a week of consistent childcare during maternity leave?

If you’re like many women, the answer is no. Plus, you may have even felt some constricting feelings at the thought.

I don’t know why, but our society seems to have trained women to only get childcare help when they have something specific and “productive” to do, like work or a doctor’s appointment. If a woman wants to have some quality time for herself, like reading a book or taking a shower, it happens only after bedtime or not at all.  

Read More: 12 Helpful Ways to Find Time for a Workout when the Kids are Home

Similarly, most women I know get little to no childcare help during maternity leave, grinding through it often unsupported and only lining up childcare help so they can return to work. We seem to view the job of taking care of and bonding with our child as an all-consuming job that requires all of our time and energy – even when it stops being special.

As a result, many moms have too little quality time to nap, shower, do things they used to enjoy, or even breathe, which can lead to exhaustion or resentment. This also leads to moms feeling like they’ve lost themselves as individuals and takes them headlong into burnout – all before they even return to the traditional workforce. 

The truth is that being a great mom doesn’t require us to spend as much time as possible with our kids. We’ve got to absorb that better quality time with kids is better than just high numbers of hours and that happy moms lead to happy childhoods. Let’s put concrete strategies in place to get us there.

Quality Time over Quantity

When we dive into motherhood, many women re-route all extra time and energy into parenting because we seem to think that being a good mom requires us to spend as much time as possible with our kids (and enjoy every minute of it!).

Our childcare-outsourcing decisions reflect this. Moms get co-parent or outside childcare coverage when they have to work, get a haircut, or do something else “productive,” but rarely do they line up consistent childcare coverage just to have some time to themselves without plans. Doing so tends to bring on feelings of guilt and shame – “Shouldn’t I want to spend that time with my kid?”

But here’s some liberating news: the quality of your time with your kids matters, not the quantity.

Daily Mom Parent Portal Quality Time
Read More: To Nanny or Manny? That Is The Question

Those early pandemic childcare-less months taught me this firsthand. For about five months, my then-2-year-old and I spent every waking moment together. As she bored of me and acted out as a result, and as I became less happy due to a lack of alone time, my relationship with her suffered along with how I showed up as a mother.

On the flip side, when her daycare reopened and she could go run around happily with friends and I got alone time – wow, our relationship became fun again. For me, time apart from my kids unquestioningly helps me be a better, happier, more present mom when I’m with them. Knowing this, we can exchange the more-is-better approach to parenting with one aimed at helping us be more present and kid-focused during the quality time we do spend with our kids. 

Sometimes you need your own quality time

Because we can actually scale back the amount of time we spend with our kids so long as we’re intentional about being more present and engaged when we’re with them, let’s get creative on how to get there.

First, think about how to make some of the time you already spend with your kids more quality time. Take out a piece of paper and make a visual of the time you get with them in the mornings, evenings, weekends, and any other pockets of time. Think of 1-3 ways to have more quality time. For example, going on a 20-minute walk together, eating breakfast at the table instead of in front of the TV, or skipping music in the car for a conversation (my daughter is inexplicably chatty in the car).

Next, look for windows of quality time where you could get some consistent childcare help so that you free up time for you. And don’t rule out the weekends. I have a friend who set up a nanny for every Saturday morning for four hours so that she could nap, grocery shop, go on a day date with her partner, or get some work done to make her Monday better – whatever felt right that day.

It let her recharge or make the rest of her week easier for part of her weekend so she was more relaxed to spend time with her child the rest of the time. There’s no right answer here in terms of the amount of time to take off and what to do with it. Experiment and get curious about what makes you more relaxed and happy.  

Daily Mom Parent Portal Quality Time

Get the help you need

Once you’ve picked your window, line up consistent support for it so you’re not consistently negotiating for it. The support may come from your partner, your in-laws, your family, your friends, babysitters, nannies, or au pairs. You may swap childcare help with a friend (e.g., you watch each other’s kids every other Saturday afternoon).

Happy mom, happy kids

Being a happy mom gives an example for your kids about what is possible. And true happiness requires quality time to do the things that make you happy – and that includes time away from kids. Protect your own quality time for those activities by lining up consistent childcare so that you have the space to drop in the activities that will make you happy. You and everyone around you will benefit. 

WANT TO READ MORE?
Here are some ideas to jumpstart your quality time: 30 Fun Toys For A Ridiculously Great Time With The Family.

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Photo credits: Jonathan Borba | Lawrence Crayton | Myles Tan

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Kelly Nolan
Kelly Nolan
I’m Kelly Nolan, an attorney-turned-time management strategist and mom. Using realistic time management strategies, I help modern working women (especially moms) manage everything on their plate with less stress and more calm clarity.

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