We’ve all read or heard this phrase numerous times (hopefully with better grammar), but have you thought about what it really means? As mothers, we focus on taking care of everyone around us and we rarely take time — or make time — for ourselves. Undoubtedly, this can leave us feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Are you at the top of your game when you’re feeling this way? I know I’m not.
Does the following sound familiar? You’re tired, stressed and have way too many things on your to-do list. Because you’re impatient and rush your kids, they start to feel your stress too. So even if you feel you can’t reduce the level of stress just for yourself, realize that when you’re stressed out, it negatively impacts the people you care about most.
Here are five simple ways moms can take time — and make time — for themselves.
1. Take a time-out
How often do you take time to sit and relax? Having quiet time to yourself every day is a simple way to calm your nerves and relieve stress. As a mom, you may find that it’s easiest to find quiet time early in the morning before your kids wake up and get ready for school. Some moms prefer mid-morning/afternoon when their kids are at school and others find time before heading off to bed. Even 15 to 20 minutes can provide you with enough quiet time to recharge your spirit, give your mind a break and increase your productivity.
Some ideas for taking a personal time-out every day:
- Eat your lunch without working on the computer, talking on the phone or doing the bills. Eat mindfully, enjoy your food and cherish the quiet time.
- Go for a walk. Fresh air and daylight can revive your mind.
- Sit down and relax. Take 15 minutes and do nothing. Put your feet up, close your eyes and enjoy the silence, before you start hearing, “Mom, Mommy, Mama…”
- Take a bubble bath, give yourself a pedicure, apply a facial masque, flip through a magazine, or anything else you enjoy. (Bubble bath photo courtesy of that link, another one of the #hotspamoms)
If you find it difficult to find any time to do these things, then make the changes needed to make it happen. Ask for your spouse’s support and talk with your children about how they can help mommy take care of herself so she can be a better mommy. Remember, a few moments to reenergize is something that will make you feel better and though you think you don’t have time, you’ll be so much more focused, productive and relaxed afterward that you’ll realize just how helpful “me” time is.
2. Chit chat
Life wasn’t meant to be lived alone. And as much as they love us, our husbands or partners can’t be everything we need. Every mom needs a gal pal, especially another mom who understands the daily chaos of raising kids. These friends know exactly how we live on a daily basis, because they live it too. When you have an added stressor you need to vent about, pick up the phone and call a friend. You’ll both feel better for having spent the time nourishing each other and your friendship.
3. Tune in
Studies have shown that music has positive health effects — both physiological and psychological. Music can help you reduce depression, stress and anxiety, stimulate your brain cells, make you want to move your body through dance and exercise, and in some cases, sleep better. Surround yourself with music whenever you have the chance and allow it to lift your mood. Don’t blame me when you start humming along and tapping your toes.
4. Get unplugged
As moms, we stay pretty connected to our smart phones, computers or iPads all day. After all, we’re the Chief Executive Officers of our families and households. We have little people we’re responsible for, bills to pay, information to share and work to do. In addition, our phones and computers are sometimes the only way we can steal a quick five minutes to stay in touch with family or friends. In the evening, you might watch TV, play Draw Something or Words with Friends on Facebook, join a Twitter Party or email your child’s teacher with questions about his science project.
Take an oath to be unplugged one day each week (or an evening or afternoon). Take this time to reconnect with the ones you love. Focus on those tasks you’ve been procrastinating. If your entire family is unplugged at the same time, you might be surprised at how much fun you can have together once you reconnect. In fact, make it a dinner rule. No tech during meals, this way you can all talk, to each other. What a novel concept.
5. Take responsibility for your own happiness
You’re not the boss of me, but you are the boss of you. While it’s easy to blame your stress on your boss, a bad relationship or other people who ask you for too many favors, it’s ultimately up to you to decide if you’re important enough to put yourself on your to-do list.
You’re a mom who has many different responsibilities on her plate, but is your health and wellness on that plate? When you learn to say yes to yourself, no to activities that are not priorities, and schedule time for yourself in your daily activities, you’ll find more time for the things that bring you joy.
It’s so easy to use motherhood as an excuse to neglect ourselves. But rather than allowing the everyday chaos of life with kids be the reason for our stress and anxiety, let it be the catalyst for taking better care of ourselves.
Charmin Calamaris is a wife, mom of two little boys and creator of the Momiverse. The Momiverse is an online magazine for busy moms (is there any other kind?) dedicated to helping moms take time – and make time – for themselves. Charmin traded her career in environmental policy to become Chief Executive Navigator of the Momiverse. You can connect with Charmin in her “online office” on Twitter.