In the past decade, studies have shown that, despite the apparent improvements in women’s lives over the last 50 years or so, women’s happiness levels have steadily declined during that time. While there are many theories as to why this is, one could argue it’s because women’s lives are more hectic now than they have ever been. More women are trying to juggle a career, relationships, a family, a household, friendships, and other activities outside the home. And they are trying to do it all at once.
It’s no surprise, then, that many women (especially moms) are not making themselves a priority in their own lives. Are you guilty of that? I know I am. Since becoming a mom, I have found it increasingly difficult to get around to finding time for myself to do things just for me. The thing I’m realizing is that if you’re trying to find time, it will never happen. You have to make time.
I know what you’re thinking: yeah, right. I know because I’ve felt that way, too. But it is so important to make time for yourself. Because if you don’t, I can almost guarantee that you’ll end up like many of the women in the study who seem to have it all, but are still desperately unhappy. I know you don’t want that, and I know you don’t want your kids to witness that. So it is important that you start making yourself a priority now.
Why Is Me Time So Important?
You’re Not Just a Mom
I know it may feel like it sometimes, but you’re not “just a mom.” Yes, being a mom is an incredibly important job, perhaps even the most important job of your life, but it is not all that defines you. Before you were a mom you were a woman with goals, hopes, and dreams. Before you were a mom, you were likely a wife. Before you were a mom, you were a friend, a colleague, a co-worker. While those roles in your life may have fallen away since having your baby, they are no less a part of who you are now. Those roles have helped to mold you into the person you are and, one day, you may have to or want to put on those old hats again. Your hopes, dreams, goals, friends, career, relationships . . . they’re all still there and you have every right to continue to pursue them. Yes, being a mom is wonderful and so important. But so is who you are underneath that one layer.
They Grow Up
Believe it or not, your babies won’t be babies for much longer. I know it’s cliche, but they grow up in the blink of an eye. Once those kids are out of your house (heck, once they hit junior high and want nothing to do with you), if you don’t have interests and activities that fill you up outside of raising your children you are going to feel very lost and alone. Listen, none of us want to be that helicopter mom that follows her kid to the mall and watches him in stealth mode. But if you don’t start to cultivate healthy, enjoyable, fulfilling hobbies or interests that are JUST FOR YOU now, you may end up being that creepy mall mom before you know it.
Be An Example
For better or for worse, your kids are watching you ALL THE TIME. They learn more by the example you set than by the words that you repeat to them (likely on an hourly basis). When you fail to take time for yourself, you run the risk of teaching your children that they are the center of the universe, which inevitably leads to selfish kids. By taking time for yourself on a regular basis, you are showing your children that you and your interests matter and that your life outside of them is valuable. Having a mom who feels happy and fulfilled will be more beneficial to your children than having a mom who sacrifices her passions for her children. When they see you actively pursuing a goal, a dream, or simply taking time to read a book because you enjoy it, you’re teaching them that you value yourself as much as you value taking care of them. That is a powerful lesson.
It Makes You a Better Mom
If you’ve ever been on an airplane, you know that one of the most important instructions in the safety speech is that if the oxygen masks fall from the overhead compartment, you are to put it over your face first before putting a mask over your child’s face. The purpose for that instruction is because you can’t help your child if you haven’t filled up your lungs with life-giving oxygen first. The same is true in motherhood. The more you fill up your personal fulfillment tank, the more your are able to pour into your children. Regularly taking time for yourself helps you to be a better mom.
How Do I Make It Happen?
So, we’ve established that taking time for yourself is important, right? Your next question is likely, “But, how?” I get it. You’re super busy, you have a lot on your plate and the days and weeks seem to be just passing you by. It seems impossible to make a little time to focus on yourself, I know, but it’s not. Here are some ideas for carving out some valuable “me time” on a regular basis (and by regular basis, I mean as often as you can fit it in at this stage of your life, which may be once a month or it may be once a day):
- Go out to lunch or to a coffee shop ALL BY YOURSELF. Bring a book or a magazine or take time to make that phone call to your friend that you keep putting off.
- Go window shopping or go try on some pretty dresses you can’t afford. You don’t have to buy anything!
- Get a manicure or pedicure . . . or both! Or spring for a massage.
- Go for a walk with your headphones and nothing else. Listen to your favorite (non-Disney) music and let your mind wander.
- Take a bubble bath. Bonus points for taking a glass of wine with you. 😉
- Get up early in the morning (before the kids gets up) and read, or do a Bible study, or write in your journal.
- Watch your favorite television show while the baby naps (I promise, the laundry will still be there later).
- Work on a craft you’ve been wanting to start, but never got around to.
- Do some yoga or meditate.
Whatever it is that you choose to do, be all in. Try not to let the thoughts of how much you have to do around the house, or whether your kids are surviving (or whether their father is surviving) in your absence, ruin your time. Everything you have to do will still be there when you get back. Your husband is a parent, too, he will be just fine. The kids will not be taken by the fairies while you are away. I promise, everyone will be okay while you tend to yourself for a while. It will be worth it, for you, your spouse, and your kids, for you to take a little time away in exchange for a happy and fulfilled mama.