If the average mum gets 17 minutes of alone time in a day, it’s not surprising that self-care doesn’t get a look in. But there is a way….Here’s how you can find time for self-care when you think you have none.
As I mentioned in my previous blog (Self-care for busy mums: What happens if you ignore it), self-care is not a treat you get to have every now and then: It is essential and can have widespread consequences if you ignore it.
So if you’re constantly snapping at your partner, feeling resentful towards the kids, feeling grumpy and exhausted, you need to stop and take stock.
How can you find time for self-care?
Here are a few tips:
1. Prioritising your time
There will never be enough hours in the day to get everything done. So you need to recognise that you have limits and decide what to prioritise.
Look at your tasks and ask yourself:
- Does it have to be done right now or can it wait?
- Am I the only one who can do it or can I pass it on to someone else?
- Am I being realistic about how long it will take or am I trying to cram in too much?
By thinking about what you do, you can start to see where you can free up sometime for yourself.
2. Ask for help
As mums we sometimes feel like we need to be superwoman. You may feel the pressure to fill your kids lives with ‘meaningful activities’. And then feel you need to do this all by yourself, as no one will do it as good as you. You may also believe that asking for help means that you are somehow failing, as it signifies that you aren’t coping.
If this is you, it makes it incredibly difficult to ask for help. So give yourself permission not to be perfect and accept any help with grace and not defeat.
So why not try leaving your child with a family member or friend, whilst you do something you enjoy. They may feed them junk food or let them watch too much TV, but will it really make a difference to how they turn out? The kids will have had fun and it also enables them to develop independence without you. And more importantly you get some time to yourself.
Ultimately, it is your responsibility to let others know what you need. If you are giving the impression that you have it all under control, they are not going to offer help…they cannot read your mind.
3. Replace the things that deplete you with those that nourish you
If you notice that you feel down or stressed, after spending time on social media, adjust your habits.For example, turn off notifications so that you are not tempted to keep checking or limit it to morning and evening.
Replace that time with something that makes you feel happy and energized.
4. Turn daily activities into self-care
This is about looking for opportunities in your day where you can just pause, breathe and slow things down.
Some of the things you can try:
- Take deep breaths throughout the day. This can help you relax and prevent stress from taking over your life. To help you remember, you can link it to daily habits that you do without questioning. For example, take a few deep breaths every time you stop at a red light, or even when you are sitting on the loo!
- Incorporate stretching whenever you can. For example, stretch your arms up whilst waiting for the kettle to boil, or roll your shoulders back to release that tension, whilst sitting at your computer.
- Bring your focus back to the present moment. For instance, whilst playing with your child, instead of thinking about all the things you need to do, focus on the experience of being with them.
- Take 5 minutes to sit down, switch off and really enjoy a hot drink, instead of sipping it on the go.
5. Reconsider your morning routine
I’m suggesting that you get up 15 minutes before the kids do. Now you may be thinking, how on earth will getting up even earlier help?….. I don’t get enough sleep as it is!
But having that time to perhaps shower or have a coffee, or just enjoy the peace and quiet, can make a difference to how you start the day.
6. Say No more often
Saying ‘no’ can be difficult, especially if you are a people pleaser. You may fear upsetting people, or being disliked or fear conflict. The thought of disappointing someone else can feel so huge, that it’s easier to just say ‘yes’.
So next time you are asked to do something, pause and remind yourself you have a choice. Saying ‘no’ without the guilt takes practice, but it can be empowering. You will start to value yourself and your time, and you may even feel less resentful and more willing to give your time to others.
7. Involve the whole family
Although it’s important to get some time alone, self-care can also be done with the family.
Physical movement is important but you may not have time to go to the gym or do a yoga class. So why not put on some music, get the kids involved, and have a boogie!
Or perhaps do some colouring with the kids. Concentrating on colouring can lower your stress levels. So get the kids off their screens and have family colouring time.
Self-care therefore does not require lots of time or money. It’s about changing your mind-set, looking for opportunities in your daily routine and then making it non-negotiable. It may seem alien at first, but if you keep doing it, it will eventually become as automatic as checking your phone.
Just as you do things for the kids without questioning them, you need to do the same for yourself.
10 minutes a day adds up to 70 minutes a week!
If you would like help with any of the issues mentioned, please contact me.