4 Ways to Make Me Time Every Day

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Categories Making Time for Me, Parenting2 Comments

As a stay at home mother of four children, three of whom are still in diapers, “me time” is a luxury. Me time is hard to get most days—impossible on some—but I always make an effort to get some. How we make time for ourselves as mothers is as different as we are, but it is important nonetheless. I hope that in sharing what I do, it might stir up some ideas for you as well.

We’ve all seen this photo around on social media…

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… so don’t worry, I’m not about to suggest hiding here! However, I have tried it… and failed.

Kidding aside, there are four things that I do (to try) to get me time every day.

I get up before my children do. I know I know I KNOW what you’re going to say, “Every mom blogger says this! It’s too hard and I need my sleep!” Know how I know this? I’ve said it for years. I didn’t actually attempt this until I had my Twinkies, kiddos 3 and 4, and was in the most sleep deprived period of my life.

For me, it started by accident. My husband had gotten a new job that allowed him to work from home about 50-75% of the time, but traveling the rest of that time. During his first trip away, I figured out that I had to get up 15-30 minutes before the girls did so that I was ready to feed two hungry babies alone. The house was dark and quiet; there was no one crying or asking for anything. It was just me, the gigantic nursing pillow, bottles, and the coffee maker. In my first solo week, I learned that in giving up 15 minutes of sleep, I gained more peace and patience, and my children gained a happier, more put together mama.

Fast forward to nearly a year later and my husband still travels, but I typically get up 30 minutes before my kids do even when he is home. It gives me time to wake up, drink my coffee, plan my day, prep dinner, and generally be ready for whatever my four little monkeys might throw at me.

I take a walk. This happens every day that my husband isn’t travelling. When he has some downtime (or when I must have a break ASAP because I just can’t take it anymore), he will emerge from the office and take over, allowing me to get outside, get some air and most days, some clarity.

Okay, so your spouse/partner doesn’t work from home? No problem! After dinner, or bedtime, or whatever works for you, GO! Commit to 10 minutes a day. That ends up being 70 minutes a week! (See how I just snuck in exercise and self care into this?)

I rotate toys. What? Huh? How does that get you “me time”? We all know that kids can turn a beautiful living room or play room into a post apocalyptic scene in the time it takes you to pee. That being said, I only have a large tote worth of toys that are easily accessible to my children at any given time. If they want a special tote, then they have to pick up every other toy before I pull it out. Currently, the Lego tote is the special tote in our house. Lego time is one of my favorite times of the day! It is guaranteed to keep them busy for 30-90 minutes (depending on the kiddo). I usually don’t have to referee for the first 10-15 minutes. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is!

I clean as I go, and my kids help. Once the kids are in bed, I want to relax, hang out with Special K, read a book, watch TV or blog. I don’t want to be filling the dishwasher, sweeping the floor, or picking up toys.

My children are old enough to help with small tasks. Each child is expected to help clear the table after each meal (as much as they can, age appropriately), toys must be picked up before meals and bed, and everyone has to help tidy up at the end of the day. My oldest has a chore chart and is getting ready to start moving from stickers to an allowance. My three littles are still at the age where they really love to be “helpers”, so I figure, why not teach them how to really help now? Stickers, new crayons, and lots of praise are rewards that work in our house.

Ultimately, I rarely have much cleaning to do after my kids are in bed, which frees up the evening for me to unwind and relax.

What about you? How do you find me time every day? Do you trip and fall into it or do you ensure that you make time for you every day? Get creative!

Sara is a mama of four children, two of them being surprise identical twin girls. She is happily married to the love of her life, stays home with her children and is currently homeschooling her oldest child. Most of her writing is centered around raising awareness about Crouzon Syndrome and cleft palates, advocating for your child, homeschooling and raising multiples. Find her blog at Confessions of an Outnumbered Mom.


Making Time for Me - a series on mothers finding time for themselves in the middle of the insanity of parenting and lifeFrom August 31 to September 4, 2015, How Do You Do It? is running a series on “me time” for mothers: why we need it, how we make it, what we do with it. Find the full list of posts on the theme week page.

Have you blogged about mommy time on your own blog before? Are you inspired to do so now? Link your posts at our theme week link up! We’ll do our best to share them on Facebook,Pinterest, and Twitter with the hashtag #metime.

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Working from Home Full Time

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Categories Balance, Childcare, Divorce, Household and Family Management, How Do The Moms Do It, Making Time for Me, Routines, SAHM, Time Management, WorkingLeave a comment

Four years ago, we were preparing to send our children to kindergarten when my soldier husband received orders to move over 500 miles away. We had about 2 weeks to uproot and move, departing the day before the children were to have started school with the children in the neighbourhood. We even knew their assigned teachers’ names. This is fairly typical for military families, but not for us. In my 9 years as a US Army fiancée and wife, this was the only PCS (permanent change of station) I moved for. While my husband went on overseas tours (two to Iraq, one to Afghanistan, and one to Korea), I had stayed put.

I figured that my run as an enlisted wife with a career was over. I prepared to hand in my two week notice. Instead, my employer offered to keep me on as a full-time telecommuter indefinitely. I jumped at the chance to keep a job I loved while keeping my family intact. Instead of spending 45 hours a week in and around the office, I would be working from home, making myself available through email, join.me, Google Chat, instant messenger, and telephone. I took a couple of weeks of leave to pack and rent out our house, find a place to live, make the move, deal with an unrelated family crisis, and unpack.

I initially intended to put my daughters in an after-school care program so that I could work from as I had from the office, knowing that my children were well cared for. However, it turned out that El Paso childcare culture wasn’t one I could get on board with. The one after-school program I could find that met my hygiene requirements was untenable. The children ran mostly unsupervised and were fed candy and soda. I couldn’t bear to allow my children to continue there after the first few weeks brought no improvement. I made the previously unthinkable decision to work full time without childcare.

I know that many parents work full time from home with children underfoot. For me, the nature of my work, my parenting priorities, and my own nature wouldn’t have been able to make it successful if the children weren’t in school for a good part of the day. However, with kindergarten in the mix, the schedule worked out.

6:45 am: Put the children on the school bus for an unnecessarily circuitous but serendipitously long bus ride.
7:00 am: Get online and start work. Thanks to being just over the time zone boundary, this is 8 am at work.
1:45 or 2:30 pm: Take a late “lunch” to drive to school and retrieve the children. This got a little squirrely while the kids were in different grades and got out of school at different times, but we made it work.
3:15 pm: Get the children set up with a snack and craft.
3:20 pm: Get back to work.
4:00 pm or 4:45 pm: Sign off for the day. Snuggle with the girls and thank them for being so mature.
5:30 pm: Prepare dinner.
6:00 pm: Family time.
8:00 pm: Send the children to bed and prep a crafting project for the following day. Take care of housework and try to prop up my failing marriage.

I lucked out, between my incredibly supportive coworkers, the time difference, public kindergarten, the long bus ride, and my daughters’ maturity. I was especially grateful to have kept my job when, 7 months after our move, my husband left me. Thanks to working from home, I had a career, salary, and community to fall back on. I will be ever grateful to my team’s faith in my creative scheduling and commitment to my job.


Making Time for Me - a series on mothers finding time for themselves in the middle of the insanity of parenting and lifeFrom August 31 to September 4, 2015, How Do You Do It? is running a series on “me time” for mothers: why we need it, how we make it, what we do with it. Find the full list of posts on the theme week page.

Have you blogged about mommy time on your own blog before? Are you inspired to do so now? Link your posts at our theme week link up! We’ll do our best to share them on Facebook,Pinterest, and Twitter with the hashtag #metime.

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TV is a Tool

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Categories Balance, Feeling Overwhelmed, How Do The Moms Do It, It Gets Different, Making Time for Me, Parenting, Perspective, Preschoolers, SAHM, School-Age, ToddlersTags Leave a comment

I learned a long time ago that I was a much better parent before I actually had kids. I thought picky eaters were the result of indulgent parents. (Guess what! I introduced my duo to the same foods at the same time off the same spoon and one only eats things that are beige and crunchy. He came like that, I didn’t do that to him.) I also thought my kids wouldn’t watch a lot of TV. That one makes me laugh now!

While we are at it, I also sort of thought I would have ONE baby at a time and well, that didn’t happen either.

I am not ashamed to admit thatI use TV as a tool to give myself a break and distract my kids from mayhem. I have been home with them since they were one, and with no family nearby and no babysitters to speak of, I rarely had any time for a break. Not long before my boys turned three I started trying to work from home. I had a small Etsy shop and did custom sewing. I enjoyed the quiet time while they slept and the creative outlet helped me refresh. I was able to use the 2-3 hours they would nap to work on projects and promote my business online.

In contrast, while these two were awake, there was rarely a quiet moment. Here’s a small snapshot of the chaos my duo managed from a very young age. I didn’t include any of the photos where there was blood — and there was blood, more than once. Nor did I include any naked shenanigans, which was also incredibly common. You’re welcome.

HDYDI.com Making Time for Me
HDYDI.com Making Time for Me Teamwork: Trying to remove outlet covers with a pretend screwdriver, escaping through the dog door onto the concrete patio, trashing a closet, using an entire box of tissues to decorate their room, working together to escape their play area and unrolling all the toilet paper.

Remember when I said my kids weren’t going to watch a lot of TV? That didn’t last. They were nearly two before we ever turned on the TV for one single half-hour of something with educational merit each day. But then guess what? They turned 3 and all bets were off. Three, in our house at least, was the worst. Ever.

But before that, when my boys were not even two, they figured out and verbalized to me, “There is one of you and two of us and we want to do this!” when I was home alone with them. Most of every day they worked together to outsmart and out-maneuver anything I did. They overcome any childproofing efforts we made and they were giving up naps.

They gave up their nap long before I gave up their nap.

HDYDI.com Making Time for Me
HDYDI.com Making Time for Me The dresser was moved into the closet, which also had a lock, which did not dissuade them from pulling every stitch of clothing out. They also raided the fridge and the pantry, took a Sharpie to the carpet, and flushed things that should not be flushed.

When they were awake, which quickly became all the time, they were in constant seek-and-destroy mode. BUT, when the TV was on they sat, quietly and slack-jawed and provided me a brief respite. They weren’t trashing toy bins or flooding the bathroom. They weren’t trying to escape baby gates or scale cabinets. They just sat. And it was quiet.

In the beginning, we stuck mostly to educational stuff. They were picking up songs and letters, colors and numbers. And more importantly, they were giving me the break I needed to do crazy indulgent things like shower and cook meals.

At age 5, they still watch mostly stuff with educational merit, but there are more and more mindless shows thrown in there too. By age 4 they could each name 100 superheroes (give or take) and they knew all sorts of crazy phrases and giant words they probably wouldn’t have learned otherwise. They have picked up all sorts of cultural references and they incorporate storylines and theme music into their play.

So there’s the truth: My kids watch too much TV. Way more than they should, for sure. But it helps me get things done and it keeps them from clobbering one another or trashing our house. Judge if you want, but TV in our house keeps the peace. Now that they know how to turn on the TV and navigate around, my work is done and I can retire from Mommyhood.

HDYDI.com Making Time for Me
Look how sweet and well-behaved!

Allow me to share some things I have learned since becoming a Mom who uses TV for distraction to get a little time to myself. (It’s OK, I give you permission* to use TV as a tool to entertain your kids.)

  • Streaming is awesome. Get yourself Netflix or Amazon Prime or something on-demand. My kids have only ever watched on-demand shows either from Netflix or from our own personal video library, which we stream to our TV via AppleTV. They also have channels on the AppleTV you can stream if you do have cable. (We don’t. We canceled it when I was pregnant to cut our monthly bills.) Plus there is a PBS channel my kids love too.
  • Paying for a streaming service means my kids don’t watch commercials, ever. They never have to flip through channels, hoping there is something decent on. They just pick something and watch it. We stayed in a hotel recently and they were so flummoxed not being able to control what was on, but subsequently asked for every single thing each commercial endorsed. That was only about an hour’s worth. I can’t imagine living with that every day. Netflix is less than $10 a month, a fraction of the cost of cable and without the commercials.
  • Making them agree on a show and take turns picking has helped them understand sometimes you do what someone else wants. Is it always peaceful? Nope. But then, neither are kids sometimes.
  • Netflix streaming truly is unlimited. Believe me, we’ve tested it. More than once I have thought, “Gee I am glad we don’t get a monthly usage report showing we watched the same episode of Octonauts 437 times so far.”
  • Use parental controls. I mean, if you are going to plop your kids in front of a neglect-o-magic, at least be a little parental. My kids have their own profile and they are locked into ratings for 8 and under. They can’t accidentally watch Orange is the New Black.
  • Be careful trying to replace paid streaming content with YouTube. It’s crazy easy for kids to click on the next thing YouTube thinks is related and find something you’d really rather not have them seeing.
  • Not everything on TV is terrible. My kids are actually pretty smart and know a lot of things because of TV than they would be otherwise. Sometimes they will start talking about some creature they learned about and will tell me 32 facts about it and I am blown away they retained so much. They also smash things like Hulk so there’s that.
  • Try to quiz them after they’ve watching something to make sure they are actually learning. Tell me something about [whatever] that you didn’t know. It makes them recall what they learned and it creates a dialogue. Even the mindless stuff has morals sometimes. How do you think he felt when that happened? What would you do if that happened? Especially great for kids who might struggle with emotions.
  • When they were in preschool in the afternoons, we had a no-TV-before-school rule, because sometimes it is hard to turn off without a fit. We made the rule and stuck to it. It was disputed the first week or so then they accepted it. Now with them starting Kindergarten we’ve made a no-TV-on-school-days rule so they can stay focused on their schoolwork and activities. They know it’s the rule and it’s non-negotiable. (Exceptions made for sick days.)
  • We do a LOT of stuff that isn’t watching TV, I promise. They are exposed to lots of things in real life too. We try to get out of the house every day and we’ve filled the past 5 years with tons of educational and mind-broadening activities. And a lot of TV.

I know the recommendations of nearly everyone who recommends such things say kids should limit screen time, and TV is not a babysitter and it’s bad for developing brains. All of which is probably true. But in our house, my kids watching TV is essential to MY mental health.

* Permission granted in this instance has zero actual authority and is offered without guarantee or responsibility.

 


Making Time for Me - a series on mothers finding time for themselves in the middle of the insanity of parenting and lifeFrom August 31 to September 4, 2015, How Do You Do It? is running a series on “me time” for mothers: why we need it, how we make it, what we do with it. Find the full list of posts on the theme week page.

Have you blogged about mommy time on your own blog before? Are you inspired to do so now? Link your posts at our theme week link up! We’ll do our best to share them on Facebook,Pinterest, and Twitter with the hashtag #metime.

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Can Chores and Work Be “Me Time”?!

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Categories Making Time for Me, Parenting, ToddlersTags , 2 Comments

As a part-time working mom of triplet toddlers my most consistent version of “me time” typically consists of doing things I have to do anyway, but doing them by myself! I am an early intervention physical therapist and drive around quite a bit to do home visits. Some of my coworkers complain about all the drive time, but sometimes that is one of my only moments of solitude and I cherish it! Sometimes I listen to music or NPR, but most of the time I am listening to podcasts that I downloaded on my phone. It’s really kind of lovely sometimes to just drive in silence as opposed to driving while singing “ABCs” or “Happy Birthday” 500 times in a row! I think the lives of MoMs generally tend to be pretty overstimulating so embracing a bit of quiet time, wherever you can find it, can be so refreshing!

On my days home with our triplet toddlers, naptime is as close as I get to me time. The naptime “to do” list is always long and sometimes I get so caught up in the business that I forget to enjoy the solitude! I am working on this and when I am mindful of it I find that I appreciate and enjoy naptime even more. I love to cook, so I try to make that a naptime job (at least the prep work) because cooking is actually fun for me when I don’t get pulled away to referee a toddler spat every couple of minutes! Sometimes I’ll even sit down (gasp!) and watch a show on Netflix while I fold a couple loads of laundry.

Some days I remember partway through the nap that I should be appreciating this time. On those days when I’ve been in go-go-go mode I try to take 5, maybe even 10 minutes, to just sit and take a few deep breaths and do something relaxing. Sometimes that means scrolling through my Facebook feed; other times it means sitting on our deck with an iced coffee and just being. The trick I have learned is that I have to stop and do this in the middle of naptime and not be under some illusion that I can get three more things done and then sit because inevitably when I do that the moment I sit down is the moment I hear one or more toddlers waking up!

My other “go to” me time that I only manage to do a couple times a week is to get up early before the kiddos wake up. For a while one of our trio was consistently waking at 5:30 or 6 but then going back to sleep; that was a great time for me to get up and have a little time alone. But that only works for me if I actually went to bed early and got a decent night’s sleep so it definitely doesn’t happen every day. When it does, though, it is often one of my favorite times of day. I can make a pot of coffee, cook a delicious breakfast, and maybe even sit in the hammock and drink my coffee without reheating it five times! That is often my best time to write too. Sometimes I only get five minutes and then this

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turns into this…

IMG_20150813_195342or this…20150809_082030but, I love this time too and I know it’s going to be gone way too fast!  So I’m also going to embrace this mommy time!

 


Making Time for Me - a series on mothers finding time for themselves in the middle of the insanity of parenting and lifeFrom August 31 to September 4, 2015, How Do You Do It? is running a series on “me time” for mothers: why we need it, how we make it, what we do with it. Find the full list of posts on the theme week page.

Have you blogged about mommy time on your own blog before? Are you inspired to do so now? Link your posts at our theme week link up! We’ll do our best to share them on Facebook,Pinterest, and Twitter with the hashtag #metime.

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Do These Five Things for Yourself to Be a Better Mom

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Categories Making Time for Me, Mental Health, Mommy Issues, Perspective1 Comment

On any given day, between the hours of 7:30 am and 7:30 pm, my home is a lively place. It buzzes and hums with the mischief of three busy two-year-olds discovering their world.

I rush about the house, vainly attempting to keep up with them. I toss in a load of laundry here, break up a squabble over there, and generally try to keep my children happy and alive, and my house clean habitable.

At the end of the day, I sit down to dinner with my husband and reconnect. The time between bedtime for the kids and bedtime for the grown-ups is ours.

While I love time spent with my family, it is not always easy for me to find time for myself. I’ve learned that if I want to cultivate my own happiness, I have to carve that time out of a day that seems to already be whittled down to nothing.

Over the past two years of raising triplets, I have struggled to create space for my own needs. During the first year of the their lives, I almost lost myself entirely. As time passed, I slowly began to realize that the more I focus on myself, the more I am able to be a better wife to my husband and a better mother to my children.

While I’m nowhere near perfect, I have found a balance that works for me right now. I hope that these five ideas can help you to do the same.

Be a better mom by taking time for yourself.

Define self-care for yourself. Self-care means different things to different people. If you can’t identify what it is that fills your emotional bucket, it won’t matter how much time you set aside for yourself. You will never be satisfied. For me, self-care means finding silence to read or write. Seems simple enough, but finding peace in a home with three toddlers is not always easy. I have to work for it.

For you, self-care may mean spending time with friends, exercising, or cooking. It may be an annual beach vacation or volunteering at an animal shelter. It doesn’t matter what it is, just make sure it suits you and that you are a happier person because of it.

Identify your best time of day. In Gretchen Rubin’s book “Better Than Before” she talks about the concept of larks and owls. People that prefer to wake early and those who would rather stay up late. It’s more of a continuum than a black or white concept.

I happen to be a lark, so getting up very early, while not always easy, is refreshing to me. In the evenings, I struggle to even make a coherent sentence after about 9:00. In the morning, I can get the same amount done about half the time. Also, I love drinking a cup of coffee that is piping hot to the last sip without having to toss it in the microwave.

Waking early isn’t for everyone. I am married to an owl, and he is sluggish and foggy in the mornings no matter how much sleep he gets. Everyone is different; it is just a matter of finding the time when you are your best and capitalizing on it.

Don’t waste your time on things you think you should be doing. This one was critical for me. The first year, I had a long list of things I thought I should be doing. I loved the thought of scrapbooking my children’s lives and pureeing their baby food. But, I constantly felt guilty about the untouched scrapbooking supplies sitting in my office. And, because I get no joy from cooking, I felt like making my own baby food was sucking all of my free time away.

Trying to fit these things into my already overcrowded schedule was making me unhappy. When I decided to focus on the essentials, the things that made me truly happy, managing my time became much easier and I felt more fulfilled.

Protect your time. Once you find the activity and time that work for you, protect it. When others ask you favors, or ask you to skip your obligation to yourself to help them out, find the strength to say no. It is so easy to treat this time as a luxury rather than a necessity. Remember how important you are and how important it is to your family that you are your best self.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. Occasionally, a couple of days will slip by when I will hit the snooze alarm in favor of allowing myself a little more rest. That’s ok. Remember, this time is for you and you don’t have to be perfect. In fact, I don’t think there is such a thing. The best you can do is good enough.

 


Making Time for Me - a series on mothers finding time for themselves in the middle of the insanity of parenting and lifeFrom August 31 to September 4, 2015, How Do You Do It? is running a series on “me time” for mothers: why we need it, how we make it, what we do with it. Find the full list of posts on the theme week page.

Have you blogged about mommy time on your own blog before? Are you inspired to do so now? Link your posts at our theme week link up! We’ll do our best to share them on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter with the hashtag #metime.

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Evolution of Me Time

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Categories Age Brackets, Making Time for Me, Perspective1 Comment

When I had newborn twins, I considered snatching a few minutes of sleep or brushing my teeth to be enormous luxuries of “me time”.

Once I returned to work, the 11 hours of the day I spent at work or commuting was my “me time”.

When my daughters started sleeping through the night at 14 months old, the luxury of loading the dishwasher in one go was “me time” to me.

When my children grew responsible enough to be left unattended when I went to the bathroom, an interrupted potty break was “me time”… although it was rare, since the girls usually had something most urgent to discuss under the door.

When my daughters started sleeping for 10-hour stretches, reading for a few minutes before falling asleep was my “me time”.

When my marriage started to fail, a warm shower was my “me time”.

During my divorce, a stop at Sonic for chili-cheese fries before I picked the children up from school was my “me time”.

When I first became a single mother, my “me time” was while the children were in ballet class. This was my chance to chat with other parents, and sometimes to read. The children were afraid to go to sleep alone, so everything I did at home, I did with them. Even when I was at work, I was worried for them.

Now that my children are older, confident, and independent, I don’t need devoted “me time”. The kids help me with chores, or play together while I do things around the house. When we spend time with our friends, the children naturally wander into one room while the adults end up in another. The age groups intermingle and separate organically, and we all get our social fill. I consider my visits to the gym “me time”, but my kids enjoy that time as much as I do.

In a few short years, I am sure that I will consider any time that my girls can spare to spend with me my “me time”. This evolution of “me time” has reflected the evolution of my daughters. It’s bittersweet.


Making Time for Me - a series on mothers finding time for themselves in the middle of the insanity of parenting and lifeFrom August 31 to September 4, 2015, How Do You Do It? is running a series on “me time” for mothers: why we need it, how we make it, what we do with it. Find the full list of posts on the theme week page.

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Mommy’s Workout Time

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Categories Childcare, Health, Lifestyle, Making Time for Me, ParentingTags 2 Comments

I work in IT and spend my day at a desk. Like many people, I have to exercise for both physical and mental health. I’m not an athlete by any stretch of the imagination. Without an effort to get myself moving, I wouldn’t get any exercise beyond that provided by housework and playing with the kids.

Structured exercise classes are what work best for me. When my kids were younger, I was reasonably good at using exercise DVDs to keep myself moving, but I’ve since become a member at a local gym. At a bare minimum, I make it to Saturday morning full-body weight class. In a great week, I might attend 4 workout classes spread over 3 days.

When I had infants and toddlers, it didn’t even occur to me that going to a gym was an option. The gym at work didn’t provide childcare and it never occurred to me that other gyms might. I was pleasantly surprised that the local gym had dropoff childcare for children of all ages, included in the base membership price. I haven’t seen the infant room, but I’ve really liked the indoor playscape made available to younger children and the video games, air hockey, and craft centres in the room for older kids.

In addition to having plenty to do while I’m exercising, my daughters are also learning that it’s important for adult women to take care of our bodies and health. I’m sure they see how much my energy suffers on the rare week that we have to skip a gym visit. They’re such active children now, but I hope the example of mommy’s workout will stay with them if they pursue more sedentary careers in the future.


Making Time for Me - a series on mothers finding time for themselves in the middle of the insanity of parenting and lifeFrom August 31 to September 4, 2015, How Do You Do It? is running a series on “me time” for mothers: why we need it, how we make it, what we do with it. Find the full list of posts on the theme week page.

Have you blogged about mommy time on your own blog before? Are you inspired to do so now? Link your posts at our theme week link up! We’ll do our best to share them on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter with the hashtag #metime.

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Why I Need Meditation to be a Good Mother

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Categories Feeling Overwhelmed, How Do The Moms Do It, Making Time for Me, Mommy IssuesTags 7 Comments

I am not one for absolutes.

In motherhood, as in relationships and jobs and family, the scene before us is always changing, so we learn to adapt. Today’s toddler meltdown may need to be handled differently than yesterday. The bills need paying and the kids need braces. Learning to respond to challenges with intentional reactions instead of instinctual yelling and foot-stomping takes a lot of patience and self-control, (the very things we try to teach our kids, but gosh darn it if we aren’t still learning those lessons ourselves).meditation1

Without fail, every day, absolutely, no ifs ands or buts about it, I meditate. I meditate to be a better mother. I meditate to practice accessing that still, quiet space that exists somewhere in my mind. (It’s really hard to find some days!) I meditate because when I don’t, I feel easily overwhelmed, tossed about like flotsam in the chaotic seas of mothering young children. It’s exhausting. I yell. They cry. I feel guilty. We all lose.

When I keep up with my meditation practice, it makes the difference between being the mother I want to be, or the one that makes me feel guilty at day’s end. It gives me a chance to practice listening to my thoughts and pausing before reacting. Concretely, it gives me the awareness to stop myself before I yell right back at my twin three-year-olds for their incessant whining. Instead, my practice helps me take a deep breath, squat down to their level, and explain calmly that I will listen to them when they speak to me with respect, not whining.

For me, meditation is not religious, but it is very hard spiritual work. It has its roots in Eastern traditions, but meditation need not be limited to a particular sect or religion. Anyone can meditate. In fact, I bet a lot of you do, but don’t realize it. You know that peace you experience on a nice after-dinner stroll? The kind where you notice the wind in the trees and feel so alive? That’s meditation.

Meditation is the practice of slowing down, being fully aware of what’s in front of you, and blocking out distracting thoughts about what happened,what’s coming, or what you should remember for later. For some, like me, meditation is a more structured practice of sitting in stillness and falling into a kind of dream-like state.

Sometimes I use a japa mala to help me: I say a mantra, and finger each bead for each repetition, 108 times for each of the 108 beads. Gives my mind something to do!
Sometimes I use a japa mala to help me: I say a mantra, and finger each bead for each repetition, 108 times for each of the 108 beads. Gives my mind something to do!

I sit still, close my eyes, and start paying attention to my breath. Sometimes I count them, sometimes I just imagine where that breath is going on an inhale and coming from on an exhale. After a certain point, grocery lists and to-dos start popping in my head, so I imagine sweeping them to the side, like on a screen. Swipe, and it’s gone, back to stillness. Sometimes this is all I do for 10 minutes: Sit, breathe, distraction, swipe it away, repeat. Other times I sit and feel stillness turn into what I describe as warmth and love radiating through me. It makes me feel worthy, important, loved and capable of seeing that same love in others.

I know for some, this seems pretty hokey and hippy, and I suppose it is! But just the way we practice running further when training for a race, or learning chords before writing a song, I meditate to practice honing my patience: patience with myself and patience with others (especially those of the under-five crowd!). I still falter. I still lapse and yell and use sarcasm and do things I don’t like. Then I begin again, keep trying, and never stop learning.

Everything about motherhood changes. Our children’s needs change, our families change, our surroundings, our resources and our health. My meditation practice does not. I have to do it. I want to do it. It is time I need to focus on myself, no distractions.

I need meditation so that when I return to the fray of a busy breakfast before heading out for the morning, with demands being asked of me left, right and centre, the spills and hurts and tears and whining and a ringing phone don’t do me in. My girls instead see me take a deep breath, choose a reaction, and steer the ship with confidence, adjusting the sails as necessary.

Sarah is a mother of four girls, including two identical twin three-year-olds. She blogs at www.cureforboredomiscuriosity.com and is happy to help anyone with questions about starting a daily meditation practice. 


Making Time for Me - a series on mothers finding time for themselves in the middle of the insanity of parenting and lifeFrom August 31 to September 4, 2015, How Do You Do It? is running a series on “me time” for mothers: why we need it, how we make it, what we do with it. Find the full list of posts on the theme week page.

Have you blogged about mommy time on your own blog before? Are you inspired to do so now? Link your posts at our theme week link up! We’ll do our best to share them on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter with the hashtag #metime.

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Imagining “Me Time” in the Midst of Motherhood

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Categories Making Time for Me, Mommy Issues, Parenting2 Comments

When my girls were 2, I committed to a blog link-up entitled “52 Weeks of ME!”  It was meant to encourage mamas to carve out some “me time” every week.

Sounds wonderful, right???…although at the outset, I didn’t quite know how I would swing it.  I stayed home with the girls all day, every day.  And since I wasn’t working, we tried to be conservative with our finances.  I couldn’t afford regular date nights, and a pedicure was something I could only do occasionally.

Once I got into the swing of things, though, it wasn’t nearly as hard as I’d feared.  Actually, it was downright enlightening to challenge myself to think differently about “me time”.

Sure, some weeks I treated myself to an actual treat.  I bought a new sundress.  I had dinner out with my hubby.  I went out for coffee with a girlfriend while the babies napped at home with Daddy.

More often than not, though, I had to get creative.  I soon found it wasn’t always about the “thing” I did…but how I positioned it in my mind.

Here are a few examples of my “me time”:

First time wearing my flip-flops for the season! It wasn't quite warm enough, but it was exhilarating to feel the sunshine on my feet!
First time wearing my flip-flops for the season! It wasn’t quite warm enough, but it was exhilarating to feel the sunshine on my feet!

I skipped my nap time chores and took a luxurious bubble bath in the middle of the afternoon.

I loaded the girls up in the car with the sole purpose of going through the Starbucks drive-thru.

I bought a new magazine and read it cover to cover over the course of the week.

I set aside 30 minutes a day to do some long-overdue crafting.

I called my college roommate, whom I hadn’t spoken with in way too many years, and we had the best time catching up.

There was the element of anticipation—What am I going to write about this week?— the planning, the conscious enjoyment, and the reflection that made this such a worthwhile challenge.

Over the course of that year, I taught myself to be fully present, to take things as I could get them, and to appreciate the little things in the context of my hectic toddler-twindom.

If you can snag some super-indulgent “me time”, GO FOR IT!!! Enjoy that girls’ weekend, that Swedish massage, those adorable new shoes!!!  But when you can’t, find something to step back and appreciate… just for you.  And do it often.

MandyE is mom to 6 1/2-year old fraternal twin girls.  She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.


Making Time for Me - a series on mothers finding time for themselves in the middle of the insanity of parenting and life

From August 31 to September 4, 2015, How Do You Do It? is running a series on “me time” for mothers: why we need it, how we make it, what we do with it. Find the full list of posts on the theme week page.

Have you blogged about mommy time on your own blog before? Are you inspired to do so now? Link your posts at our theme week link up! We’ll do our best to share them on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter with the hashtag #metime.

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Children Matter, But Not Above All Else

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Categories Making Time for Me, Marriage, Parenting, Perspective, Time Management53 Comments

My children are not the most important thing in my life. GASP! Okay. Deep breath. Let’s try this one again.

I have four incredible, messy, beautiful, frustrating, funny and crazy children. And they are not the most important thing in my life. There… I said it.

I realize that such a statement is not a popular one, so let’s go back to the title that children matter. My children matter so much to myself and my husband. They are the reason we wake up early (too early) every morning. They are the reason that my husband works hard at his wonderful job. They are the reason I chose to leave my job and stay home after the Twinkies (#3 and 4) were born.

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These four beauties hold my heart. So why aren’t they the most important things in my life? Three big reasons: doing so makes them the center of my world, my marriage, and taking care of their mama (me) matters a whole lot.

#1 – Making my children the most important thing makes them the center of my world.

The idea of making my world revolve around my children is a problematic one for me. Making them my sole focus puts unrealistic expectations on them and gives them the job of making me happy. They are children, they are innocent, and their only job is to be a kid, not to make their mama happy. Additionally, making them the center of my world takes energies away from my marriage and self-care.

#2 – Nurturing my marriage benefits my entire family.

Special K (my hubby) and I have built a strong foundation for our marriage, but that doesn’t mean that we can forget about it and count on it to be just as strong later on. We must put time and energy into our marriage. Whether they know it or not, our children need us to nurture our marriage so that they can grow up in a happy, healthy, two parent home.

In no way am I putting down single parents or divorced parents. As a child of divorce, I know what it feels like and I nurture my marriage in the hopes of protecting my children from such feelings.

If you’re a parent, you know that your child(ren) watch everything you do… everything. This includes how I speak to my husband, how he greets me when he returns from work, how we fight and how we make up. We know that our children watch our examples, and in putting my marriage first, I am (hopefully) teaching them how to model their relationships after ours.

Okay so how do we do that?

I’m going to delve deeper into this on a future post this week, but for a few quick ideas:

  • Date night in after the kids are in bed. Easy and free!
  • Utilize offers from family and friends of help, whether that’s bringing a meal, watching kids, or something else. If people in your life offer to help, let them!
  • Get creative! We are a single income family supporting 6, but we still make time (which sometimes costs money) for our marriage. Our last date was a trip alone to the grocery store! Sexy? No. Fun and loaded with non-kid conversation? Yes! There is no limit to how creative you can get. You just have to be willing to look at things differently and be committed to taking time to take care of your relationship.

We had children early into our marriage, but we were married first. This relationship is primary for us. Someday, if we do this whole parenting thing right, our children will leave our home as independent individuals and we will be left with just each other. After our children grow up, I want my marriage to continue and I want to know and love the man that I’m sharing an empty nest with. In order to do that, I have to put him and our relationship before our children… FOR our children.

#3 – Taking care of mama so that I can, in turn, take care of the children.

Oftentimes, I find that I take care of my family before I take care of me. I’m sure that I am not alone in this. For the last year, I’ve been dealing with a major health issue that has hopefully been resolved with recent brain surgery. I had to leave my children for three very long weeks while I left the state to receive my surgery and post-operative care. Since being home, I’ve had to let others take the lead while I ensure that I don’t overdo it. Obviously, this is extreme, but the point is still valid. If I didn’t take care of myself, I would have died. Then who would be their mother?

Okay, how about a more relatable tale? With my last (twin) pregnancy, I gained about 55 pounds. I nursed both twins so the weight came off quickly, but I knew that I needed to take care of myself to keep the weight off after weaning the girls. I found a gym with daycare options and pinched and tweaked our budget for a few months while we worked the membership into it. As soon as I got the membership, I went at least every other day. I found that when I was done at the gym, I felt stronger, healthier, and more emotionally available to my children.

What I’ve learned over the past few years is that I am a better mother when I am healthy, well rested, etc. Perhaps you need 10 minutes to yourself to sneak in a walk after dinner when your spouse or friend can watch the children? Perhaps you need to skip a latte or two so you can get your hair done? Perhaps you need to go to bed 30 minutes earlier tonight so that you are better rested for your day tomorrow? Whatever it is, if you take care of their mother first, your child(ren) will have a healthier, more secure, happier life.

What things do you do to take care of your marriage/your relationship/yourself?

How do you encourage or remind yourself to take time for you?


Making Time for Me - a series on mothers finding time for themselves in the middle of the insanity of parenting and lifeFrom August 31 to September 4, 2015, How Do You Do It? is running a series on “me time” for mothers: why we need it, how we make it, what we do with it. Find the full list of posts on the theme week page.

Have you blogged about mommy time on your own blog before? Are you inspired to do so now? Link your posts at our theme week link up! We’ll do our best to share them on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter with the hashtag #metime.

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