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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

how I use my fringe hours - #momMEchallenge

One of the best books I read in 2015 was The Fringe Hours: Making Time For You by Jessica Turner. I LOVED this book and all it stands for: Busy moms figuring out WHEN and HOW to make time for themselves, because it will make them even better mothers.

I reviewed it here:

It's about finding little snippets of time in your day to make things all about you - even for 2 minutes at a time. Everyone is busy, especially mothers, but we can't be so busy that we run out of steam altogether... which will happen if you don't put time back into yourself.

Here are a few ways I've been finding my Fringe Hours - the moments in my day that I could in fact spend time on ME!

  • Daily Mornings- I've found that since I'm up early anyway heading to work, if I make sure I go to bed at a decent hour the night before, then in the morning I can wake up a half hour before I really need to and before everybody else is up so I can work out. I could not have done this in the past when I was up in the night with babies needing to feed or when I was responsible for getting two kids ready all by myself to do two drop offs. I get it, our time is tight and there are various phases we go through with our kids where we have less time than others. BUT making yourself a priority - even once a week! - is better than nothing. So I wake up every morning at 5 and walk or run on my treadmill before my day has gotten started. I'm so grateful for this ME time right away. And in order to make this happen, I set out my clothes the night before. I set out my kids' clothes and pack snacks or lunches the night before. I fill up my water bottle the night before. I use time I already have and could possibly waste at night, so that I CAN find time for ME in the morning. It's about prioritizing what you want to do in your day, and then rearranging WHEN you do certain tasks so that you can make sure it happens. I feel rejuvenated, more patient and happier, physically stronger and mentally focused when I work out first in my day. This makes me a MUCH better mom, wife and worker.
  • Evenings - I've found I can do a lot of cleaning at night OR I could do a lot of ME time, once the kids are in bed. I've found I can organize my time differently at night in order to find some fringe hours where I can refill my own tank. My husband and I got into a great routine a few years ago, when our second child was about a year old. We'd both put the kids to sleep and then go downstairs to clean up for about a half hour, no more. We'd never get it all done, but we'd do our best to clean up the toys in the living room so it was more relaxing in there, and we'd clean up the kitchen from dinner, do the dishes or put into the dishwasher. We may fold laundry together while talking about our days or toss a load in the washer. But we'd cap it at about 30 minutes or so, letting the rest go for now. We'd then spend time solo doing whatever we needed to do. For me, that's blogging or emails for work, wrapping a birthday present for an upcoming birthday party, or scrolling Facebook. For him, it's work emails or paying bills or calling a friend. Having time to ourselves is something we both need, and by limiting the amount of cleaning we do, in addition to doing it as a team together, we make sure we get our own time. Then we always meet up later at night, about an hour before we want to be asleep, to watch a show or talk. We didn't find any magical time in our day. We just rearranged what we did to ensure we had those fringe hours being used for what WE wanted them used for. It's hard at first to let go of the cleaning everything all at once... but once you have two kids and realize you CANNOT keep up with it all without falling apart yourself, it becomes easier with practice. 
  • Lose the guilt. - This is another great time I take advantage of my own fringe hours. My husband likes to sleep in on the weekends, and so do I, so we alternate. One of us sleeps in later on Saturday, the other on Sunday. When it's my turn to get up earlier, I set the kids up with a snack and a show, while I blog and/or work out. The kids are still sleepy and not really needing anything at this point so I take my 30 minutes when I know I'll be least interrupted taking them.  Sometimes my husband will be up and making breakfast for the kids. I do not at all feel guilty that during this time when they're interacting I'm on the treadmill or blogging. I know I'll join in with them in another half hour and it's great for my kids to be with just their Dad for a little while. Let go of the guilt: that's #1 for finding and utilizing your fringe hours. Sometimes I'll be heading out to run while the kids and Dad are playing Legos together and I'm missing out. I don't feel guilty. I NEED me time, and if I have to be strategic and take it while I have help at the house, well, that's OK. 
  • On-the-go = doctor's appointments, etc. - You can find tons of time if you prepare ahead! Leave a book or a Kindle in your purse for whenever you're heading to your child's practice or your doctor's visit. Read! Relax! Or even just get caught up on meal planning or writing a grocery list, or scrolling Instagram. Do something mindless, that counts as ME time! I used to only call my friends if I knew I had like a half an hour to talk to them. Now, I'll text randomly something silly to let them know I'm thinking of them, or I'll call them when I have 5 minutes to go on my commute to work after dropping the kids off. We NEVER have all the time we want, so make the time you do have count. My best friend who lives far away from me, we talk several times a week and it's for maybe 5 minutes when we're rushing out the door to work! We take what we can get, and every time I'm left feeling happier, lighter, like someone understands me, not like "oh that wasn't worth me calling her right now with only a few minutes." It's always worth it, spending time on your own wants and needs, even if only a few minutes. In the car, listen to a book on CD if you're commuting solo. Whatever works in your small timeframe! 
  • Indulge - For me, chocolate is a staple in my desk at work and at home. I need a small piece to make myself feel calm, happier, better sometimes. Not all the time. But just knowing I have it makes me feel happier. Whatever works for you- find it and use it. Don't abuse it, not too much, but if you need to take a moment and lock yourself in the bathroom while the kids are screeching or complaining they want a third snack in the last 20 minutes, well, you go for it - grab the chocolate! 
  • Take a lunch break - This can work at home or at the office. I've worked as a school counselor for 9 years in one place and NEVER took more than maybe 3 lunches a YEAR in all of those years. Literally. I worked with kids while eating my lunch every day. I always ate, but never solo or without my computer. This year, I decided I'd try to slow down, take a break in my day and just BE by myself. I went a whole month taking lunch 5 days a week, several times a week I'd eat with another person, just enjoying someone's company and NOT checking email! It was wonderful how much better I felt and how much more energy I had for the rest of my workday. At home, eat a snack when your kids eat lunch, then sit down after you send them out to play or after they're down napping. Eat solo with a magazine or while watching Ellen. It's OK to take a break. Even if it's only 10 minutes. Soak it up!
  • Sleep when they sleep. - This is SO important! No, I don't have time to sleep during the day. Yes, there are a thousand things I SHOULD be doing... like cleaning up the toys or doing the lunch dishes or even blogging or something. BUT I have found if I nap while the kids nap, even if I just close my eyes and don't really sleep, even if only for 30 minutes, I'm a MUCH more patient and happier mom after nap time. It's important to at least put your feet up and rest on the couch for even 10 minutes during your busy Mom Day. Don't feel bad about it either. You'll be laughing more post-nap if you had some time to recharge. 
  • Sleep time = Mom's FREE time! When our kids are down for the night or when they're napping, these are GREAT times for one or both me and my husband to sneak away and do something we love to do. For example, sometimes on weekend days when the kids are napping, I'll head to my favorite kids' consignment store or roam around Target solo just for fun. I'm not missing out on anything at all, I'm just utilizing my time differently. Or during nap time my husband will head to have lunch with a friend. He's not missing anything at home, we'd all just be napping or watching TV or something. When the kids go to bed at night, you know you aren't missing anything, so start date night after they're asleep, head out with your partner without feeling guilty. 
There is time to be found! Find it and use it the way YOU want to be using it, not the way you feel you have to or the way parenting makes you feel like it's supposed to be spent. We can be humans, individuals, too, in addition to being awesome parents. I guarantee if you just set out to find *some* time in your day - or even start with finding one half hour a WEEK- you'll be happier!

Check out Turner's book, The Fringe Hours, you'll love it! A great book to follow for your New Year!

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