Yes, making time for yourself is actually an essential skill of motherhood. Now, before you go rolling your eyes at me, and asking how on earth you’re supposed to find time for yourself, hear me out.
I can clearly remember thinking that taking time for myself was selfish – and honestly, you will find articles online that will tell you that. What hogwash! It’s a lie moms believe right before they burn out.
This is a lie husbands believe of their stay-at-home wives, right before they end up either divorced or facing hospital bills. If your husband is going to work every day, he is getting a daily break from the demands of in-person parenting. And for stay-at-home moms, stress is real, and the need for rest is real, and anyone who tells you differently doesn’t have a clue.
I can also remember times when I had six kids under 10 and I was convinced that finding time for myself was nigh to impossible. Frankly, I’m still there sometimes when things get crazy. But now that I carve out a fairly regular chunk of time for some R&R, I’m a better mom for this rest and renewal.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me give you a simple list of reasons why you need to carve out some time for yourself and do it right now. Then we can chat about ways to make that happen!
You need to care for yourself in order to best care for your family.
Just like they tell you in an airplane before take-off: should the need arise, you must put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping anyone else. Because you can’t actually help anyone else if you don’t first help yourself. As moms, we are constantly helping someone else. It’s a 24/7 job we’ve got here. And as stay-at-home moms, we are the ones on-call when our husbands have to be at work at o-dark-thirty. But to be blunt – we will run out of oxygen if we don’t put that mask on.
I will never forget the time my husband was in a very high-stress position and neither one of us was getting any downtime. He was waking up early, and working nights and weekends, and taking the stress to bed with him, and I was handling everything at home (literally everything) by myself. It gave me a new appreciation for single moms! I had wonderful friends who carried me through those rough years.
Anyway, I knew how much stress he was under, but I had no idea how much stress I had until I was given the chance to get away for a few days and go to a blogging conference with friends. I came home so refreshed!
You are more than just a mom.
Being a mom is an amazing gift, but our mom role is not all there is in life. You have God-given gifts and passions that aren’t meant to be ignored. Sure, some things may need to wait for a season, but not everything! How will your kids ever understand the value of using your God-given gifts and chasing your God-given passions if they never watch you fulfilling those roles?
Using your gifts in volunteer roles around your community is a great example for your kids. And even though my primary audience is stay-at-home moms, I’m a work-at-home mom myself and there is no shame in that. Working at home gives me a much needed artistic outlet and provides additional income for my family.
You need the opportunity to miss and be missed.
Remember that familiar saying, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”? If you are always with your kids, you’ll never know the pain of missing them and the pleasure of being reunited with them. They won’t have the opportunity to miss you, either, which means they won’t learn to truly appreciate you.
Each time I am gone for a few days, which is usually once or twice a year, when I return I have a new zeal for mom-hood and my husband has a renewed appreciation for all that I do.
You will be a better mom.
Getting away allows you to decompress and refresh. That child who has been particularly difficult lately needs you to take a break, even if he doesn’t actually want you to take a break — but you need to get away before you lose all your mommy cool. Coming back from a little me-time may be somewhat of a shock, but you’re ready to face it because you’ve taken the time to let go of the stress and frustration and soak up much-needed rest.
I remember coming home after my fourth child was born. I had been in the hospital with him for four days and had not seen my children more than an hour or two in that time. Now, hospitals are not known to be quiet places to sleep! But within hours of being home, the level of noise and chaos from three kids under six hit me like a brick. I learned to be grateful for a few days in a hospital bed! Which, by the way, is a little ridiculous when you think about it. If you can afford to get away for even just 24 hours by yourself, you will come home ready to face the music, so to speak.
Eventually, your kids will grow up.
If every nook and cranny of your life is all about your sweet babies, what will happen when they’ve grown and gone? How will you handle when they’ve hit the teenage years and aren’t as interested in your constant presence? The most well-adjusted, well-rounded kids I know have very well-rounded parents.
You do only have a few short years to really invest in your kids, but some of that time does need to be spent investing in yourself and in your marriage so you don’t have an identity crisis when they are all grown up. You will still have a life.
How to Make Time For Yourself
Me-time is clearly very important. But let’s address that burning question: How can you go about making time for yourself as a mom when you are completely overwhelmed with a busy mom life?
- Decide what qualifies as me-time for you. Some people consider a trip to the grocery store sans kids as excellent time away. To me, getting groceries is a required chore that I dread with or without kids. There’s no refreshment in it for me. Some of you mamas out there love to be with other people, socializing and filling your cup. Others will much prefer being completely alone. Be creative and think outside the box. Knowing exactly what rejuvenates you, and what doesn’t, is key to making me-time happen.
- Don’t wait until everything on your to-do list is done. Because it never will be. Instead, divvy some of it up between the kids to be done while you’re gone. Coming back to chaos just might negate that me-time, so having a little bit of a plan for everyone while you’re gone is a great idea.
- Put it on the calendar. Your me-time is essential, remember? That means it’s on your calendar and you’re considered busy during that time. Hire a babysitter or coordinate with your husband for this regular time so you aren’t scrambling to find childcare every time you try to get away.
- Make it part of your regular routine. Whether it’s a quick trip to Starbucks every morning or a weekend away twice a year, if it’s something you regularly do, it’ll be easier for you to do it and for your family to be okay with it. When my oldest two children were fairly young, I made a habit of sitting outside in the fresh air surrounded by my flower-filled pots each morning for about 10 minutes. The sliding glass door would be left open, with the kids watching a Veggie Tales movie right on the other side of it less than 20 feet away. I was amazed at how this simple 10 minutes spent breathing deeply and chatting with God changed my day.