I know that as a mother of two children that are only thirteen months apart, having a bit of time and space to myself seems like a far-off dream. If I’m not changing a diaper or vacuuming up a bowl of cereal that has been dumped all over the floor, then you can probably find me slowly but surely being eaten alive by an ever-increasing laundry pile. SOS. Please send help.
So when I do find a few hours, or sometimes even just a few extra minutes, to be finally and blissfully – alone – I try to dedicate some of that valuable free time to myself. As a person who self identifies as an introvert, I find that time to reconnect with myself necessary for my mental health. I know, all of us moms feel guilt, but I think there’s a special kind of guilt introverted moms feel about absolutely needing a break from your kids daily. Aren’t we supposed to just love and adore our kids 24/7? I do…but I also need to set time every day that reminds me that I am more than just a care provider.
So what do I do to capitalize on that all-important “me time”?
Keep scrolling for six ways to disconnect and recharge all from the comfort of your own home.
As someone who grew up participating in band and choir, as well as drama and art club, I find that connecting with my creative side is a great way for me to acknowledge something that brings me joy and lets off any steam that’s built up over the day.
Find something that lets your brain think in a different way. Dust off your guitar or piano and try playing a few chords, or work on a painting or drawing. Even if it’s something as simple as journaling or writing a short story, thinking in a creative way can help you destress and process your thoughts and emotions in a brand new way.
Crack Open a Good Book
This is the simplest and easiest way for me to completely step out of my anxiety from the day and transport myself into another world. Just 15 minutes a day can give you the break you need. You can build this into your day either by waking up earlier than your family. Or if you’re a night owl like me, you can encourage quiet time with your little munchkin and both read together. You get some downtime and your kid learns that he or she doesn’t need your undivided attention 100% percent of the time.
Normally, I would always recommend getting out of the house at least once a day. Honestly, there is nothing better than getting some fresh air and a change of scenery to instantly improve your mood. Even if the weather is less than ideal, taking a walk and moving your body around not only burns calories but can also be like a type of meditation. I’m very lucky that I live in a coastal town that is one of the best affordable places to raise a family, so there’s lots of nature and/or beach walks to enjoy on sunny days.
However, I am also aware that getting out of your house is not going to happen some days. Maybe it’s raining cats and dogs, or you’re not having a great hair day. Whatever the reason, the main idea stays the same – get moving. If you don’t have a home gym you can still find a way to get your blood pumping. There are loads of free apps you can download or YouTube workout videos to lead you through a home workout. I personally love a good vinyasa yoga flow because you don’t need a ton of space and you build your core strength and cardiovascular endurance as well.
No matter what type of exercise you like, it’s scientifically proven to help your physical and mental well-being. A recent Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health study found that running for 15 minutes a day reduces the risk of major depression by 26%.
Exercising regularly tends to give me an enormous sense of well-being. I feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, have sharper memories, and feel more relaxed and positive about myself and my life in general.
I find I have to walk a fine line with this method, but when done properly, it can really make me feel much better. After a long day at work, or parenting the kids all day, I just need a small window of time where I engage with people who like the same type of things that I like.
Whether you schedule in a Facetime with a friend or find an online community that shares a common interest of yours, connecting with other people helps me regain my mental balance.
These types of interactions and engagements are usually the first thing to get flaked on, so make it a goal of yours to talk to your friend at least once a week. Or join an online book club and meet some new people that also love to read! With the internet making the world more and more connected, you can always find a group or organization that is into the same type of thing you are. Human beings are social creatures, so decide what level of social interaction you need for your mental health, and dedicate some “me time” to this at least a few times a week.
This is perhaps my favorite self-care idea as it combines some of the best things in the world: baths, face masks and chocolate. Ok, that is my particular way of indulging myself, but please feel free to steal and use for yourself.
An indulgent treat can be anything. Whatever makes you feel great about yourself or allows you to be fully in the moment. For me, this includes a bubble bath with candles, a face mask and a large glass of red wine. Give me an hour with all three of these things and I am ready to face anything. Hungry toddler who hasn’t had a nap? Bring it. A teething baby? I got that. A last-minute really important project due right now? I’m your gal.
Pampering yourself can really look like anything. Maybe you give yourself a mani/pedi or order a bouquet of flowers for yourself. Maybe you order in a take-out and binge-watch your favorite TV show. Maybe you bake your favorite dessert and then eat it. Whatever pampering yourself looks like to you, give yourself permission to be really present with yourself in an activity (or activities) that you enjoy.
I am probably the first person who would say that meditation is just “not for me”. I used all the excuses. “I don’t have time” or “I’ll do it later” only to quickly flake out of doing it. Then I went to a girl’s night centered around “self-care” and my eyes were opened. A wonderful mindfulness coached lead us through a meditation session and showed us how we can quickly incorporate meditation into our daily lives.
Internationally known Marianne Williamson, author of A Return to Love, once said that devoting as little as five minutes every morning to your inner life can set a positive course for your entire day. Get rid of the idea that meditating needs to be in spa-like surroundings with monks chanting in the background. That’s great if you can do it, but most of us can barely get out of the house to do the school run in the morning. The biggest misconception is that meditation has to be this long, drawn-out spiritual process. It definitely can be that, but you can also meditate in the car while you’re waiting to pick up your kids from school. Or you can meditate at the end of the day when you’re lying in bed before you go to sleep.
There are multiple apps and videos you can find online to introduce you to a mindful, meditation practice; but just like exercise, the more you meditate the better you will get at sinking into it and achieve a lot more stillness and clarity out of every practice.
No matter what way you take your “me time” the best advice I can give is just to take time for yourself every week. Not only will it improve your mental and physical health, it will allow you to be a better mom and have more fun with your family.