As parents — especially those of us who are going through a really difficult season in life — getting time to ourselves is not only important, it's downright necessary. It not only makes you feel better, it makes you a better parent. Here are some real-world tips for getting time to yourself, even if it's just five minutes.
As parents, it is really difficult to find time for yourself that is not interrupted by little people who won't even let you go to the bathroom by yourself. It's really hard.
I remember when my daughter was a toddler and I basically felt like my full-time job was making sure that she didn't run into traffic. So I just want to say, before I get into this episode, that I really do get that. It is especially for stay-at-home parents who don't have daycare or school for their kids. Having quiet time is next to impossible for much of the day.
But I really believe that there is time that we can make for ourselves. Time we can choose not to spend in other ways, and instead make time for ourselves.
For example, after my daughter was asleep, I would be able to have some time to myself and I would usually spend that on Netflix. Or when I worked outside of our home when she was young, and I felt so guilty and I knew that she wanted to be with me. And so I would, instead of taking any time for myself after my commute, I would just rush into daycare to get her.
What I want to talk to you about today is carving out a little bit of time for yourself where you can be quiet and not have any distractions. Not have any little people demanding things of you or the responsibilities of day-to-day life ... and just have that time for yourself.
For me, that is time in my closet. I'm doing meditations using tarot cards, lighting sage, being a hippy woo woo. It's having a bath with sea salts in it. It is dancing in the closet with headphones on. It is time in my office where no one is talking to me.
These are the times of my day where I recharge myself and I am a much better mother because of it. And I know that in the past when I've really struggled with anxiety or just having a difficult time finding that time for myself, that even carving out five minutes has made a big difference.
When I realized that this was something I needed to do, I started leaving for work five minutes earlier, and then when I would arrive, I would park somewhere sort of far away where no one would see me, and I would listen to a guided meditation in my car.
I would arrive at daycare five or ten minutes early. And this one, I will admit, was more difficult for me, knowing that my daughter was close by. It made me feel guilty for sitting there. But I would take that time and try to just be quiet and not listen to anything. It made a really big difference that allowed me to daydream and just be quiet with myself - and made me a much better mom.
The other thing I want to mention here is that going through a divorce when you have children forces you - if you share time with the other parent - to take time for yourself. And I will fully admit that I don't think I would have allowed myself that time if I hadn't been forced to because of our custody arrangement. I felt incredibly responsible for my daughter because she loved me so much and clung to me so much and she didn't want to be with her dad. And it was easier for me - rather than deal with the crying or the knowledge that we were separated and that she wasn't happy - to just not take time for myself.
I remember going to get my hair cut, and I wouldn't even allow myself to enjoy having my hair dried. I would just leave with it wet because I wanted to minimize the amount of time I was away from her, because I felt so guilty about it.
I hope that I don't have to tell you that that's not healthy, that that's not a balanced life where you're caring for your child and you're caring for yourself. It is common - I don't want to use the word normal - It is *common* for parents, probably especially mothers, to not take time for themselves and to feel guilty for every moment that they're not being productive.
It takes practice to allow yourself to create time for yourself where you feel guilt-free. And sometimes it takes a long time. I think if I hadn't been forced to take time for myself because of my custody arrangement, I think I would have always felt guilty about any time that I took for myself because it was easier to sacrifice myself.
But that first period where my daughter was with her dad for a full day...I was sad and I felt terrible, but I didn't feel *guilty* because I knew it wasn't my choice. And that allowed me to release a little bit.
Now I can say to my daughter, without feeling guilty, "I want to do my work. I want to do this. It's good for me to be able to do things that make me happy because that makes me a better mom for you. And I would never want you to grow up and not do the things that you want to do just to make someone else happy. And I know that you are going to be just fine while I do X, Y and Z."
But it's easier to explain that to a 10 year-old than a three year-old. So I do understand that.
I hope that you'll take this episode as some inspiration to see if you can carve out five to ten minutes of your day every day...To just slow down, and be quiet with yourself, and set the expectation with your kids that that is what you are doing and they're not to interrupt you.
And you know what? If you have to give them an iPad or screen time, do it. It is not going to kill your children to watch an episode of Peppa Pig while you take time by yourself, OK? Because you need it. We all need it. That's all.