As a busy mum who works almost full time, I often found me time hard to come by. Now we have added homeschooling into the mix, juggling working, family life, and making sure our son gets the education and input he needs means there isn’t much time for me.
I often think we are very polar about mums having time for themselves. Some people think that if a woman has signed up for motherhood then self-care is just something she has to get on without having, then we have social media and society telling us that “me time” is essential. There is a meet in the middle compromise.
I think that it entirely depends on what you define me time as, and how realistic you are about what you can do for yourself depending on your circumstances. If you have very young children and a partner who works long hours and no family support, finding time for yourself may be very hard. If you work and your job is demanding then that’s an extra plate to juggle. I have done both those stages and know it’s hard. It does pass but it’s hard to be in it.
For me, me-time is not about endless hours at a spa, or days alone (although those would be nice once in a while) it’s more about making sure I am taking care of me, so that I can be the best person I can be for those who rely on me. I hate the term self-care but in order to be a good wife, mother, home educator, employee, and friend I need to look after me, too.
Our days are pretty full and busy so for me, that means making sure I get time to eat properly, a few minutes of space to relax, time to bathe or shower and if I can, I try and get up very early to get me time, before the children wake up. I try to grab time to go for a run, alone, a couple of times a week, and very occasionally I pay for childcare so that I can have some time for me.
I need a little time for me, for my own mental health. The demands of life are not something I quibble about. I choose to work, I choose to homeschool, I have no regrets about either of those things, but I do also need a little time out for me. The husband is very aware that I bear the brunt of managing homeschool, home life and working, so he is very supportive of me getting time to look after myself, because he knows I am a nicer person for it. Even if it’s just a twenty-minute stint to go for a quick run, or him making sure he is home on time to take over bedtime so I can get some work done in peace, or have a bath.
For me, a day that includes some time works a bit like this.
530am wake up – if I am lucky the only being that will demand my attention is a cat. The children get up at 630am. I use this hour to work, read, or just drink coffee and plan my day.
Lunchtime – when the boy is eating lunch, I will try to plan that that’s my time to sit down and spend a few minutes resting or just eating my own lunch.
After dinner – the husband takes on bedtime (which is still a tough area for us, more on that another day) and I get some time to catch up on myself, read, bath, cruise social media, or watch tv. Sometimes if he is home I will try and grab a slot to exercise but that is something I am not very good at, and need to work on)
It’s not a lot, but at the moment, it’s as good as it gets and it’s enough for now. It gives me just enough time to breathe, regroup and for want of a better phrase, “find myself” in the crazy that is our working day, working week and busy life. As an introvert who has to function as an extrovert, I need time alone, to reboot myself. I know I won’t get whole days to myself often, I know that I have taken on having a child at home with me, instead of in school. I try not to get frustrated or resentful because this is my reality and we do what works and slot in time for me when we can.
We all need me time, but working out what’s realistic and achievable is very individual. If you are struggling, it’s worth sitting down with your partner or on your own and looking at your day and working out slots that might work. I found that childcare swaps were helpful when my kids were smaller, I would babysit for a friend to give her time off and she did the same for me. If you have a family who can give you an hour of time out, then ask. If you can afford childcare, there is no shame in using it. If your kids are old enough to respect your need for “mum is having a bath, unless the house is on fire, please leave me alone for half an hour” enforce that (it’s good for them too to learn respect, boundaries and that they can help you out) but you do need to look after you. I have learned this and got better as I have walked this parenting road.
How do you make me time work for you?