Self-care. It’s a necessity to being the best caregiver you can be to your children. But it’s a low priority for many parents who wear multiple hats to maintain a career (even as Chief Executive Mom), maintain the household, and raise healthy, happy, and well-balanced children.
Confession: I have been there multiple times. Albeit passive-aggressively, but definitely there. I know you may be thinking, “How can I possibly fit in one more thing in an already overcommitted schedule?” But it’s not just one more thing. In the absence of self-care, fatigue, stress and resentment set in. Your mental sanity is at stake here!
Your goal: Take a moment for yourself at least once a week. If that’s too aggressive starting out, aim for twice a month. Following is my foolproof plan to being more mindful of “me time”: Plan, Share, Do.
The nature of our role as “mom” or “dad” does not often allow us to be spontaneous when it comes to taking time for ourselves. After you wrap up your Sunday chores and get the kids to bed, look at the week ahead and determine when you will have an hour or two to steal for yourself. You will need to be flexible with your schedule, whether it’s Friday evening or midweek — whatever is going to be your most frictionless opportunity to get out of the house and decompress. Keep a running list of the types of activities you enjoy doing. You can plan something as simple as sneaking away to Starbucks with your new issue of O Magazine or something more intense, like a 4-hour cooking class. No matter how simple or complex, be intentional about looking ahead and planning the break, so that come the following Sunday, you won’t be kicking yourself for not making any time for yourself.
If you say you’re going to take a break once a week, you want someone to be holding you accountable to make sure you do it. You would think spouses/partners are the best accountability partners, but their support can wane depending on the number of chores (and number of children!) you are asking them to support while you take your break. The next best thing is a close friend. Bonus if your close friend is a parent, who can be extra empathetic to what you are trying to do. Let them know what you are trying to do, why you are trying to do it, and to check in with you midweek to make sure you are still on track for your mindful “me time.”
This is where the rubber meets the road, where you actually have to follow through on the plans that you made. You may have to turn the other cheek to a sink full of dishes, a toddler meltdown, and an empty fridge waiting for you to grocery shopping. No matter the exhaustion and to-do list demons working against you, fight back! Take that moment for yourself. One hour away from the house is all the rejuvenation that most parents need.
Don’t delay: Enact this plan today. Being more mindful of your “me time” is a win-win for the entire household. Put yourself first, because when you do, you will truly be the best perfectly imperfect parent you can be, and your family will thank you for it.