I know you're busy. And tired. And busier. And then you're sick and there are birthday parties to attend and swim lessons to rush to. I get it. Life is hectic when you're a mother. We can come up with a zillion reasons - not really excuses since they ARE true - but real reasons why we could not, should not, would not be able to exercise or take better care of ourselves.
There are so many things we could be doing instead of working out or focusing on our health. Here are just a few:
- Pinterest planning another party for two years from now
- Emails that never stop coming in
- Folding more laundry
- Washing laundry
- Putting away laundry
- Folding and washing more laundry
- Cleaning the kitchen, bathroom, shower, floors, car
- Sweeping, mopping
- Dusting (um, really?!)
- Writing letters
- Paying bills
- Another play date, Children's Museum visit, soccer game
- Pick up or drop off to sitter's, friend's house, etc.
- Text message someone
- Watch the latest show on TV or catch up on the news
- Sitting around doing nothing (HAHAHA, right!)
Yes, we have lots to do. No one denies that.
But my question to you moms is HOW do we find time to do allllll of that (listed above) for our families, our kids, our homes, our jobs, etc... but we cannot possibly find enough time to take better care of ourselves?
Think about what you did in your child's first year of life... feedings every couple of hours, nursing for some, filling bottles for others, changing diapers every hour or so, endless doctor's visits, worrying, staying up later, etc. It's no wonder in that first year why moms don't have time for themselves.
But let's say you are past that year, then what are you doing with your time that you are no longer spending on diaper changes or bottles every hour? You're probably catching up on sleep, totally get that.
But why aren't you putting in a hour a week to yourself? An hour. That's not a lot of time. It's better than nothing. We make everyone and everything else in our lives a priority except for us it seems. How can we improve that?
First, I think you need to hear it's OK and it makes you a BETTER mom to make yourself a priority.
ME TIME VS. MOM GUILT
I know personally, when I have time to myself - to read, to think, scroll Facebook, talk to a friend, take a walk, run, or go shopping alone even - it makes me WAY more patient, less overwhelmed, and more easy going and a happier mother. I feel stronger, too, like whatever happens, I can handle because I got time to myself.
I know SO many moms who suffer from the Mom Guilt Disorder. They feel like they have to put their kids FIRST above all else, including themselves. They can NEVER have time alone, NEVER get a babysitter, never leave their kids unless they are sleeping or it's to go to work or something like a doctor's visit instead of socializing with a friend or shopping on their own. I admire that perseverance, but honestly, it's like a diet, it won't last long-term.
I've been lucky not to get this terrible Mama Guilt Disorder. I don't feel guilty when I take time away from my kids. I may miss them, but I never ever feel like I'm a bad mother for doing something to make me happy, saner, less stressed. It's OK to be YOU, the woman, the girl, the person before she became a mother.
HOW to make time for yourself:
- Do it early in the day. I find that if I wait too long in my day to schedule in workout time or time to reply to emails, it doesn't happen. Too many things come up - kids get sick, we get invited to a play date, I realize we need groceries, etc. So try to make it happen first thing if you can.
- Schedule it! Put it on the calendar once a month, like you should do for date nights with your partner, or big meetings at work, or a birthday party. You schedule it because it's important, right? Otherwise it won't happen. We all get busy, time flies, days go by before we know it. So schedule in your time alone. Aim for once a month if that's all you can manage right now... and work toward at least once a week. Ultimately, 3 times a week is AWESOME. But start small.
- Short and sweet. Make it doable. Make it simple. Don't have too high expectations. Too many people start in January with these high goals for working out 7 days a week after not working on the last six months. Um, not realistic. So start small. Say to yourself, "this week I'm going to exercise once for 30 minutes, next week I'll do it twice." It's better than nothing, and once you get the momentum going, you'll want to increase it naturally. If you never have time alone, then start by saying "During nap time today I'm going to read a book for 30 minutes instead of doing chores like I always do." If you can't leave the house, make it work in your home to start, and then in a few weeks work up to taking yourself out for coffee or meeting a friend. Do what works. No expectations besides making it happen.
- Have an accountability partner. Get a teammate, a friend or your spouse to help support you in this endeavor to make more ME time. Set a monthly date with your spouse, or set up a weekly phone conversation with a friend during a time that works for you both. Or get a workout partner to meet you at the gym. Whoever it is, talk to them about your goal, share with them what you're aiming for.
- Remind yourself of the benefits. If you have to, write a list of the things you will gain or benefit from exercising, reading, taking an hour to yourself sometimes. Put it on your phone, your computer, on the fridge.... wherever you will see it. This will help you combat that Mom Guilt you may feel at first. Better yet, write a gratitude journal, after you spend time alone write how it felt. This will keep you going! Post a picture on Instagram if that works better than writing for you.
- One for them, one for me. This is a trick I came up with a few years ago when I had my second child and had NO idea how to manage two kids, a household, and working a full-time job out of the house. For me to feel like I could go run on the treadmill for a half hour, I needed to feel like I did some of the chores, I could get on board with not doing ALL of them, but walking away from it entirely was not working for me. So I'd do 10 minutes of cleaning, whatever I could do in 10 minutes was all I could do. Or I'd clean one entire room, then go workout. Then finish cleaning another room after my workout. I do the same type of balancing act with my job. I have things that need to get done at home, it's not always finished at work. But to make sure it doesn't interfere with my family life, I only do it when the kids are asleep and after I've done some of the household chores. You CAN do it all, just not all at once. Break it down into manageable pieces and you will get there.
Here are some apps, Web sites and Facebook groups to help you stay motivated and connected to others with goals similar to yours:
This is MY favorite!
They are offering a FREE two weeks of daily anywhere exercises that take 5 minutes. We can totally do that! I signed up! Join me!
Other suggestions from moms on Facebook:
- The Humbled Homemaker
- App: My Fitness Pal (calories)
- App: Edomondo (walking/running)
Make it 15 minutes. Next week try for 30 minutes. If that sounds too hard: then talk to someone or write down why you feel you cannot possibly take that much time for yourself. Figure out why you're feeling such Mom Guilt.