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Just breathe: Why "me time" is so important for moms

Sarah Megginson is a freelance writer, journalist and editor. She currently edits Ultimate, Australia's highest-circulating entertainment magazine available nationally through Sanity stores and writes for magazines including Cosmopolitan...

Treat yourself to some downtime

From SheKnows Canada
Do you feel overwhelmed by all you think you need to accomplish in a single day? It might be time to cut yourself some slack and adopt new strategies to schedule much-needed downtime into your day.
woman taking bath

It's no wonder moms often feel overwhelmed. With family, social and career commitments piling up, we put pressure on ourselves to accomplish a lot every single day, from kicking goals at work and cooking nutritious meals for our kids, to spending time on personal hobbies or working on our relationships.

In doing all this, we strive to achieve that illusive work/life balance. "Work/life balance is defined as achieving equilibrium among all of the priorities in your life, and it's not an easy feat!" confirms the University of Toronto's Family Care Office. "Despite our best efforts, the stress from trying to balance our many responsibilities can sometimes become overwhelming. If you ever feel guilty that you can't spend more time doing certain activities, such as spending more time with your family… you may be suffering from work/life imbalance."

Are your kids feeling overwhelmed too? How to balance your child's schedule >>

Why is it important to have a work/life balance?

In simple terms, having a balanced schedule makes you a better mom. It makes you a more relaxed, less stressed person overall, which allows you to perform better in all areas: at home, at work, in your relationships and when striving to reach your personal goals.

"For years I wondered what was wrong me," explains Emily Monosson, who so struggled with the concept of marrying her career with her family life that she compiled a book of essays on this very topic, called Motherhood, the Elephant in the Laboratory.

"I transformed from a full-time laboratory researcher to a homebound scientist, surrounded by piles of reprints, half-eaten finger foods and balled-up diapers… I'd decided that I would work only during school hours while the kids were young, [but worried that might mean] I was not a dedicated scientist?"

These types of "Am I doing a good enough job?" concerns are completely normal for the average mom. Sometimes we feel we're not spending enough quality time with the kids; other times we fret that our careers are being neglected. But the reality is, we're all just doing the best we can, and to give that little bit more back to your loved ones, your friends, your colleagues and your career, it's so important to carve out time for yourself and focus on doing things you truly enjoy.

What can you do to create a better balance?

First, you can give yourself a break. It might not seem like it, but everyone around you is balancing just as many competing priorities and responsibilities as you are, and everyone feels like the wheels are coming off every now and then.

The second thing you can do is acknowledge that you want to make some changes in your schedule to eliminate stress, become more organized and reclaim some moments to dedicate to precious "me time." "Being a parent can be one of life's most joyful and rewarding experiences, but there are times in everyone's life when the demands and hassles of daily living cause stress. These tensions are a normal, inevitable part of family life, and parents need to learn ways to cope so that they don't feel overwhelmed by them," explains the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA).

Strategies and activities you can do to restore balance to your daily routine, cope better with stress and enjoy some quality "me time" include the following: 

  • Make time to do something you enjoy — solo. It could be scrapbooking, attending a yoga class, reading a book in a hot bath… Whatever it is, schedule it into the diary like any other appointment, and enjoy it every week without fail.
  • Take a break from looking after the children. A couple of hours off duty can help keep stress from building up. "Ask for help from friends or relatives to take care of the children for a while," suggests CMHA.
  • Practice saying "no." "Set aside time to spend with the children, time for yourself and time for your spouse, relatives and friends," suggests CMHA. "Learn to say 'no' to requests that interfere with these important times, and cut down on outside activities that cause the family to feel rushed."

More parenting tips

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Tips for helping your kids break out of being shy
How to create a no-stress morning routine for your kids

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