Before kids you can’t possibly imagine how little time you’ll have to yourself. Babies sleep a lot, surely mums can still have long bubble baths, read books, see friends, and generally practice a bit of self-care?
Err…no, not usually.
I don’t have a baby any more though, I have a 5-year-old. I also have a lot more time to myself, and it’s lovely.
I thought our first school holidays would be really stressful, but it’s been quite relaxing – and not at all expected! I work every day and so have had to organise a lot of childcare for Little H this summer. We’re very lucky to both have amazing parents and so she’s spent her time between my parents, the in-laws and holiday club.
I finish work at 2:15 pm and if she’s at holiday club I’ve had to pay a fortune for her to be there for a full day so I’m mean and don’t pick her up until 5pm. When she’s with her grandparents they all have so much fun they want to bring her back at dinner time. So I’ve been getting home to an empty house at 2:30 pm most days.
I know that I really should use this time to clean the house or do errands, and on some days I do, but I’ve also been coming home, sitting on the sofa and binge-watching House or The Gilmore Girls while eating Oreos and occasionally writing blog posts. And do you know what I don’t feel at all guilty about it! I’m also much happier and relaxed with this little bit of daily self-care in my life.
It got me thinking about why I haven’t focused on myself and self-care sooner. In the past, if I had 5 minutes to myself I’d spend it rushing around cleaning, going to the supermarket, or running other boring errands. Instead of doing these things today I’ve just painted my nails and watched another 2 episodes of Gilmore Girls. I’ve also eaten a bag of Maltesers. Heaven!
Self-care is so important for your mental health, especially as a working parent because it’s not often you get any time to yourself. When you do, make sure you grab it by the horns! If you are stressed or anxious due to work, parenting, or just general life, some time to yourself can work wonders.
So if you’re stuck in a rut and not looking after yourself, here are my suggestions on making time for you and practicing a bit of self-care…
Have a think about what’s important
Is it really essential that your house is permanently spotless? I know we’d all love a completely pristine home but let’s be honest it lasts all of 5 minutes when you have kids and no one even notices all your hard work anyway, so why bother? You may as well just have a nap or read a book rather than hoover! I guarantee you’ll feel happier afterwards.
Share the load
Why should you do all the housework and chores anyway? Make your other half help with the cleaning at the weekend and with bedtime during the week. Give the kids chores to do or at least make them tidy their toys away. The more help you can get with the boring stuff, the more time you’ll have to yourself for the fun stuff. Imagine having time to read a book because someone else has cooked dinner or put the kids to bed.
Finding the time to practice self-care is the hardest part. Why not arrange with your other half to take turns having a lie in at the weekend? In our house, we take it in turns to get up at stupid o’clock with Little H on Saturdays and Sundays. The one not having a lie in has to keep her from going upstairs to disturb the snoozing! Sometimes on a quiet Sunday afternoon, my husband will take Little H to the park for an hour while I have some peace and quiet, or I’ll take her out if he wants to watch the football or play a computer game in peace. We do a lot together as a family most of the time, but everyone needs a bit of peace and quiet now and then.
There’s nothing better than using your “me time” to pamper yourself. Book an appointment at the beauty salon and escape the house to get your nails or hair done. Sometimes even getting your bikini line waxed is more favourable than looking after the kids! If you can’t afford to go out and get pampered, why not lock yourself in the bathroom and soak in the bath, paint your nails, or try one of those beauty hacks you’ve seen online.
Book a babysitter
Me time doesn’t have to be by yourself, time with your other half is really important to maintain a healthy relationship. Rope in family or friends into babysitting and go out for dinner or to see a movie that isn’t a cartoon.
If all of the above is too much just start small. Why not try to do one thing a week for you. Instead of dusting paint your nails. Instead of going to the supermarket do the food shop online and watch Netflix at the same time.
Whatever it is just do something for you regularly – because you are very important. Let’s face it if Mum’s not happy neither is anyone else! This also applies to Dads of course. Many men work long hours and also need a bit of time to themselves of a weekend. The most important thing is that you work out what works for you as a family, and start a routine that everyone is happy with.