Before I became a mother, I was pretty selfish.
And I had years of being selfish.
Doing whatever I wanted — whenever I wanted — getting up late, going to bed late. I went to the gym when I felt like it (admittedly not very often) I went shopping when I fancied. OK — granted — these things were slotted in around work but, basically, I pleased myself. Pretty much all of the time.
Roll on a few years and my how things have changed.
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Making Time for Yourself When You’re a Mother
Making time for yourself when you’re a mum is hard work. You know that looking after a child will be challenging but remembering to look after yourself and making time for yourself (when you have children to put first) is *almost* as challenging.
Initially, when the twins were born, I’d make myself feel a million times better just by grabbing 5 minutes each morning to put my makeup on. Half the time I didn’t go anywhere — and no one saw me — but it made me feel good. A bit of war paint, and I felt like I could face anything.
These days ‘me time’ is still fairly challenging to come by for any decent length of time but as the boys are growing — and becoming more independent — it’s starting to happen a little bit more frequently.
Seventeen Minutes of ‘Me Time’
But day to day, how often do we spend time on ourselves?
I read an article on Netmums last year that said most modern mothers get just seventeen minutes of ‘me time’ to themselves each day.
And what do we do in that time? The top five favourite ways to spend those precious minutes were:
1. Read a book
2. Cup of tea
3. Watch soaps
4. Have a doze
5. Browse Instagram/Twitter
Not much time for pampering then? You could *just* about paint your nails in seventeen minutes (whether they’d be dry, by the time your time was up, is debatable).
That said, I do make time for myself on a weekly basis and have done since the boys were about six months old. I go to a Pilates class in a local village hall.
It’s only for an hour each week but it’s my hour. I don’t have to share it — speak to anyone — think about anyone else except for myself. And as well as being good for my body, it’s good for my mind. Good to switch off and concentrate on nothing but the Pilates moves: stretching and breathing for an hour.
Plus it gives me a sense of self.
In that hour I am nobody’s wife or mother. I have no label or a title.
I am just me.
The Meaning of ‘Some Me Time’
In an incessantly connected world where work and social commitments perpetually jostle for attention, the value of ‘me time’ is often overlooked or undervalued.
The meaning of ‘some me time’ refers to periods when we intentionally disconnect from the clamour of life. Engage in activities that foster self-reflection, peace, and personal growth. Allocating time for solitude and introspection is so beneficial for our mental, emotional, and physical well-being.
The Importance of ‘Me Time’
Self-discovery, self-care, and self-improvement are not mere buzzwords; they are fundamental to a wholesome, fulfilling life.
When we reserve time for ourselves, we cultivate a healthier relationship with — not only — our inner selves. But the world around us too. ‘Me time’ enables us to slow down. Refocus our energies, and gain perspective on our lives and decisions.
It can mean indulging in a hobby. Crafting, meditating, exercising, reading, or simply enjoying a quiet moment with a cup of coffee.
Moreover, ‘me time’ allows us to recharge our mental batteries.
With decreased stress levels, we can better tackle our responsibilities and challenges. Studies also indicate that solitude fosters creativity and problem-solving skills, improving our performance in our personal and professional lives.
Strategies to Carve Out ‘Me Time’
Despite understanding its importance, many people struggle to carve out time for themselves. Here are some strategies to help you reclaim space for solitude.
The first step to making time for yourself a part of your routine is acknowledging its importance and prioritising it. Consider it a non-negotiable appointment with yourself. Remember, prioritising self-care is not selfish; it is essential for overall well-being and productivity.
Schedule Your ‘Me Time’
Integrate ‘me time’ into your schedule. Just like you would an important meeting — or a doctor’s appointment. Establishing a routine aids in maintaining consistency. Whether it’s 15 minutes in the morning or an hour before bedtime, find a slot that works for you.
Tap Into Technology
Use digital tools and apps to manage your time effectively. Time tracking and productivity apps can help you understand where your time goes and how to make more room for personal activities.
Delegate and Set Boundaries
It’s essential to delegate tasks and set boundaries to ensure you have personal time.
If you are constantly overwhelmed with work — or bogged down by chores at home — delegate tasks to others. Or use professional services.
Practice the art of saying ‘no’ when required. Don’t overcommit yourself.
You might find your ‘me time’ interrupted by work or family. When this happens frequently, it’s vital to set clear boundaries. Let those around you know about the importance of this time and request not to be disturbed unless it’s an emergency.
Make It a Quality Time
Your ‘me time’ should be a period to engage with yourself fully. Disconnect from digital devices and refrain from using this time to accomplish routine tasks. Instead, indulge in activities that rejuvenate your body and mind.
Make the most of your ‘me time’ by practising mindfulness. Whether reading, gardening, or sitting silently, focus on the activity and the moment. Mindfulness exercises can greatly enhance the quality of your personal time.
Despite best intentions, there can be obstacles in achieving quality ‘me time’. Here are some ways to address them.
Ditch The Guilt
Some people might feel guilty about taking time for themselves, especially if they have responsibility for others.
It’s crucial to remember that self-care is not selfishness. By replenishing your mental and emotional energy, you’re more equipped to help others.
Remember the phrase:
‘You can’t pour from an empty cup’?
This perfectly illustrates this point. Pouring from an empty cup essentially means we cannot give to others, if we are not taking care of ourselves.
Free Yourself From Time Constraints
Many people claim they’re too busy for ‘me time’.
But the key here is not to find extra time but make better use of your time. Wake up a little earlier or use a portion of your lunch break. Small increments of time can make a big difference.
‘Me time’ is not a luxury, but a necessity in today’s fast-paced life.
It is an investment in your health and happiness. Prioritising ‘me time’ fosters a positive outlook, resilience, and increased productivity. Embrace the silence and solitude that ‘me time’ brings and, in turn, enjoy a more balanced and fulfilling life.
Originally published September 19 2015.
Caro Davies is a former art-director turned writer and content-creator, and editor behind UK lifestyle blog The Listed Home. She writes about home-related topics, from interiors and DIY to food and craft. The Listed Home has been featured in various publications, including Ideal Home, Grazia, and Homes & Antiques magazines.