This is a very common question! Here’s what the GMoMs have to say about it…
~ Sasha ~
For many years I didn’t. As the years have worn on I started to feel a very real sense of “losing myself”. When I was younger, I was very involved in the arts and drama community, and slowly over the course of parenthood I started to lose that part of myself. I also had always read a great deal, and I think it was when our 3rd child was around 4 years old I realized it had been years since I had last read a book that was not child or homeschool related or painted/sculpt anything, let alone do anything outside of puppet shows for my children that resembled acting. I think that was the first time I started carving time out for myself. I started giving myself permission to “waste” time and read a book again just for the pleasure of it or watch a play and occasionally paint/sculpt again. The past couple of years I really started working at carving in a little me time again. I had a long talk with my husband and explained how I was feeling and we both agreed that a changes needed to be made. Now I get out at least once a week while my husband watches the children, but even at home I have made lifestyle changes that allow me to be alone more. Although I find parenting greatly rewarding, I now will either wake early or go to bed late to make sure I find time for other things in my life that I also find rewarding. I find that with a little time here and there to pursue the things that interest me outside of homemaking and parenting makes me appreciate and enjoy my time with my family more, and makes me over all not only a happier parent, but a more interesting one.
~ Nic ~
Time to myself? What’s that? LOL Just kidding… I suppose I do find time for myself but with so many children and such varying ages, I typically always have at least one child with me. When the littles are in bed, I like to sit and chat with my hubby ALONE for an hour or so before I lay down for the night. I tend to get out more when I don’t have a nursling, which has been rather infrequent the past 5 years, but generally I’m okay with that. I’ve always thought little ones are really only little once, it goes by so quickly, so I’d rather enjoy it when they are and find that extra me time when they are bigger, all while realizing I definitely have needs, too. I know my answer isn’t for everybody, and there are many women out there that crave more me time, and that’s fine too! Whatever works, stick with it and find a balance. 🙂
~ Michelle ~
I have had to make this a top priority, because my sanity suffers otherwise. I homeschool my children so I don’t have a ton of breaks. At the moment, my regular me-time routine includes a weekly visit to grandma. We are fortunate to live just a few miles from my in-laws. They take the children for 3 hours every Thursday. During that time, I allow myself to do whatever I want, but only if it’s not something I could easily do with children around, or that my husband would normally assist with (e.g. I do not use this time to go grocery shopping ;)). I usually end up sewing or writing, but I could potentially take a nap (although naps usually leave me discombobulated and I try to avoid them unless I am just severely pooped), and I have even used alone time to clean in the past! By adhering to these rules I have made for myself, I am able to enjoy a short but sweet window of time just for me, and since it’s weekly, I look forward to it; it keeps me going!
Something that I believe is extremely important for mothers to do is to keep self-care at the top of the priority list. Remember the oxygen mask theory, and the saying “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” It is too true! And it is vital that the partner (and/or other family or friends) is on board and willing to facilitate breaks. Other little things I am able to do for myself (with my husband’s support) is shower alone, lock myself in the rec room with snacks, knitting, and TV some evenings (leaving bedtime to Daddy), and sometimes lock myself in my bathroom and paint my nails or so some kind of spa-ish treatment. I always feel much better afterward.
I also have a few outside commitments that are just for me. I am part of a NonViolent Communication (a.k.a. compassionate communication) study group that meets every other Monday, where I go and sit and talk with some other mamas about what is going on in our lives and how we can use NVC to work through it (I have repeatedly referred to is as group therapy! hahaha). And I sing in our church’s choir, so I have rehearsal every Thursday evening. After choir practice, a friend (and fellow choir member) of mine and I almost always go out for coffee and sit and talk for a few hours. I guess you could say that Thursday is my recharge day! This kind of thing is relatively new, as my nurslings typically won’t go with a sitter (even grandma) until well after their first birthdays. But I find that before that age, the babies aren’t into mischief enough for me to need too much time away; a break from the older children is sufficient (especially because I can nap with the baby when they are not around!), other than having Daddy do some baby care when he’s home.
How do YOU find time for yourself?