Before I became a mom four years ago, “me time” only seemed to count if I was able to spend an entire day at the spa or with my girlfriends.
Oh, how little I knew. When my daughter was 6 weeks old, I found myself breastfeeding her while we were both sprawled across her nursery floor at 2 a.m. I remember looking at the ceiling and wondering what on Earth had just happened to me. In that moment, I would have given anything to just drink a cup of coffee by myself or to put on my makeup without interruption.
My transition to mom-style “me time” didn’t happen overnight, but it did eventually happen. Instead of full days to myself, it became important to find little slivers of time throughout the day for self-care. For me, these slivers aren’t a luxury — they are a necessity. These workable tips give me fuel for the day and remind me that parenting isn’t a drudgery of pure selflessness.
1. I give myself a timeout
It’s no mystery that kids can cause serious frustration from time to time. When that happens, I tell my daughter I am going to timeout for a few minutes. She knows to leave me to myself while I cool down with a little deep breathing. When I return, I’m ready to face the challenges with a better attitude.
2. Dinnertime is often casual
Yes, it’s important to have dinner as a family. All the responsibility of cooking and cleanup, however, can take a toll. At least once a week, my daughter and I have a super-casual picnic outside, where she can run around and be crazy, and I can just sit by myself and watch her, quietly and happily.
3. I work out at the park
When my daughter was a baby, I would load her up in the jogging stroller and run her to the park. Times have changed, but I still do park workouts all the time. While she’s swinging, I do push-ups or lunges, and an energetic game of tag totally counts as cardio.
4. I enforce “feet off the ground” time
You don’t have to give up the joy of nap time just because your kids grow older. A midday rest time, during which my daughter has to keep her feet off the ground for an hour, gives both of us a chance to chill out a bit and pursue solitary interests. The rule is that she doesn’t have to sleep, but she does need to keep her feet off the ground.
5. We lie down quietly for bedtime
After bedtime stories and a song, my daughter and I are quiet together. I ask her to think about things she is thankful for and whether or not she has any worries in her heart. As we both peacefully think back on our day, I have a chance to practice a few moments of meditation.
6. I start with a few sun salutations
When morning rolls around, we step into our living room for stretches. My kid has always loved what she calls “goga,” and I love a few minutes to start the day by waking up my body with deep breathing and stretches. If she is bored, I cut it short. She usually likes at least 10 minutes, though, which is more than enough time for me to start my day right.
If I ever pause to wonder if these solutions are selfless or selfish, I ask myself, “Someday, when my daughter is a grown-up, do I want her to practice these habits for herself?” The answer, unreservedly, is yes. Of course I want her to love both herself and her children — if she has them. So of course I will live out an example of doing so by loving both myself and her.
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