How to find time for yourself when you are a busy mum
We had a brilliant conversation in our Natural New Age Mums’ Facebook group the other day (email me to join!)
It was all about how to find time for yourself when you are a busy mum, how we find opportunities for self-care, how we ‘fill our bucket’ and try to maintain a healthy balance.
I guess the main message is this : you are important, your health, happiness and well-being is important. We don’t have to sacrifice all that to be a good mum. In fact, we are better mums when we do take time out to take care of ourselves.
Don’t forget that by taking time out for ourselves, we role model to our children all sorts of messages about self-worth, self-care, health and wellness and that joy and fun are important!
As someone who has been through burn out, I can’t stress how important it is to really find time to take care of yourself. If there is a piece of advice I could give to mums with small kids, it would be to entrench the habit of self-care early on.
If you get to the point of overwhelm, that’s too late! You might think you are doing okay but the stress can creep up on you slowly until one day you burn out. It’s so much better to incorporate self-care into your daily and weekly routine as a preventative strategy.
Here are some tips and advice from me (and some of my awesome community).
♥ Get Organised
A little time spent getting organised, setting up routines, minimising clutter and making up meal plans means you can use your time more efficiently and have some time left over for yourself. If you are constantly chasing your tail you will just get more overwhelmed and stressed!
♥ Make a List
I often have had unexpected kid-free time and panicked, wondering what exactly I should do to make the most of this precious time? Put things on your list that take from as little as five minutes up to two days so you always have a variety of things to choose from.
What exactly is it that you enjoy doing, what things make you happy, fulfilled and balanced? Are there activities that make you feel refreshed and re-energised?
What one person would think of as self-care or me-time can look totally different to someone else’s and your own definition can change from day to day as well! One day you might need brunch with a friend, another day you might need some quiet time reading a book. Even doing laundry might be just what you need to feel better that day. There are no rules!
♥ Focus on what really matters
Once you have kids, your time is not your own anymore! It helps to really focus on the important things in your life- like your health and happiness and your family – and allocate your time there. Don’t waste time doing things you hate, spending time with people you hate, doing things out of obligation or getting caught up in other people’s drama.
You can get back some of your time by letting someone else do some of your things. If there is something you really hate doing or never have time for, then try to outsource it. Mowing the lawn, washing the car, ironing! All these things can be outsourced. If the budget is tight, outsource to your kids or partner.
♥ Just Say No
Your health and happiness has to come first, so if you really don’t want to do something or you simply just know it will just add to your overwhelm, just say no. You don’t have to explain or make up excuses, you can simply say, “‘No, that’s not going to work for me.”
♥ Ask For Help
I know this seems so obvious, but are we good at asking for help? When things are getting crazy and you can’t cope anymore, reach out. It really does take a village to raise a child, so don’t be afraid to ask when things are getting tough.
♥ Share the childcare
As mums, we are often the ones doing the primary amount of childcare. It’s okay to share that! Your kids can still be happy when spending time with other people. In fact, it’s good for them to find a little independence.
Make a list of who can share the childcare with you. It might be your partner, parents, family, friends or a daycare centre. You might consider hiring an au pair or even a teenager to come over and watch the kids while you exercise or nap!
♥ Find joy in five minutes
Self-care doesn’t have to be a day-spa, a massage or a weekend away with the girls (although, hello, that’s awesome too). Self-care can also can look like regular, small amounts of time to do something relaxing or fun. Finding time to add in a yoga class every week can seem overwhelming, so start small.
Take five or ten minutes to sit and have a cup of tea, do some colouring, meditate, stand outside with your face in the sun, take a quick aromatherapy shower or do some stretches. This is where your list comes in handy!
♥ Use waiting time
If you have periods of time when you have to wait while the kids are at their activities, make use of it. Put the seat back in your car and meditate, sit on the grass to soak up the earth’s energy or do a brisk walk around the oval.
♥ Get up earlier
If it works for you, get up half an hour early and use that quiet time to do something for yourself. Have a cup of tea out in the garden, do some journalling or meet a friend for a walk.
♥ Schedule it in and prioritise
Schedule in your self-care. You might put a monthly catch up with friends, a fortnightly date with your partner and weekly solo hours in your diary.
When my kids were toddlers, I used to pop them in casual day-care for three hours once a week. It was such a sanity-saver. Set up a regular few hours every week where someone else takes the kids. Maybe Saturday mornings can become your time to spend on yourself. Stick to it and make it happen.
♥ Get to the park
Get out of the house and down to the park. You can do some exercise, read a book or just soak up the sun while the kids play. Sometimes just being outside can make you feel so much better and of course, earthing and fresh air also helps!
♥ Make use of play rooms
Make use of places that have child-minding or play rooms. My gym had free child-minding so it was was a great incentive to take an hour out of my day to look after myself – mentally and physically. IKEA has free child-minding and a cafe so you can grab a drink and a sit-down or do a spot of shopping in peace.
♥ Lower your standards
If you are a bit of a perfectionist, becoming a mum has never been a better time to let go. Accept that you are never going to have a show-room house – at least until the kids move it!
Soften and allow things to be less than perfect. It’s totally okay to have mess, to feed your kids muesli for dinner and wear wrinkly clothes. We are often our own harshest critics. Be okay with the imperfect messiness of motherhood.
♥ Go to bed early
Use that half an hour before you fall asleep to fill your cup and recharge. Give yourself a lush body scrub, do a guided meditation or just read a book. While social media can be great, it can also zap our energy and lead to anxiety. Create space in your life that is screen-free.
♥ Ditch the guilt
Self-care is not selfish! Don’t feel guilty about taking time for yourself or leaving the kids with someone else for a bit. It’s healthy for both mums and kids to spend a little time apart. And seriously, don’t ever feel guilty about using the TV as a babysitter sometimes.
Reframe how you talk about your self-care. “Mum is going out with friends to have a fun time!” Make it upbeat and positive. Leaving kids with their dad is not babysitting – it’s parenting!
♥ Encourage independence
It’s perfectly okay to tell the kids you are having quiet time and to not interrupt you (easier said than done, I know!) It’s a gentle way to introduce independence and show them that our needs are important too.
♥ Take advantage of nap times
Nap time isn’t always the best time to race around and do chores! Use it to have a nap yourself or do something you enjoy. The cleaning will be there later. If the kids fall asleep in the car, pop a meditation app on and lie back and enjoy the serenity!
♥ Single mums
Hats off to all the single mums. You are amazing! Self-care is even more important for you. The budget can be tight, so you might like to set up a bartering system with a group of friends. Swap childcare, make extra food and share it, ask for help. If you don’t have a network, find one – check out Meet Up to find people in your area.
♥ Working mums
Use your travel time and your lunch break (you are taking a lunch break aren’t you!!??) to squeeze in self-care. It might look like listening to your favourite podcast in the car or going for a walk in the park in your lunch break.
I hope these tips give you some ideas on how to find time for yourself when you are a busy mum.
I would love to hear from you! What are your tips and strategies for carving out time for yourself?
Share with us in the comments.