When I ask women why they don’t consistently take care of themselves (specifically with good nutrition, exercise, sleep, and pursuing things that they enjoy) there are three main reasons:
Not enough time
They feel guilty
It seems selfish
Not only is this counterproductive to good parenting (be sure to read my post Unselfish Women Put Themselves First HERE,) it makes living a peaceful, purposeful, HAPPY life almost impossible. Being happy means being balanced, and your needs are a big part of the equation.
So whether you are currently taking good care of yourself, or if this is still a work in progress, summer presents a different challenge for us all. It is important in any time of transition to be prepared with a game plan. A different schedule (or in this case, a lack of any kind of schedule!) can derail even the most dedicated. It’s always important that your strategy change when circumstances do. If you find that your life will change with the season, the vacations, or the kids being out of school, then this post is for you! I hope these tips can help you make the adjustments you need to make so you can continue to feel great and be happy all summer long. After all, a happy you is the best wife, mother, employee, and friend you can be.
How to Find Me Time This Summer
1. Take advantage of the early morning.
I consider 5-8 a.m. my personal time. Sometimes I spend some or all of it sleeping, especially if I have had a late night. Sleeping when I need it most is a way that I take good care of myself. But most often, because I like to get to bed at a regular time, I like to use this time to exercise, meditate, and get focused for my day. Sometimes I will work on projects, or get some of my to-do list done if we have a busy or fun day planned. I might shower and get ready for the day. Whatever I choose, blocking out several hours before anyone else is up gives me some precious alone time to focus on the things that make me a happier wife, mom, and person.
2. Scheduled Room Time
I love this idea from April at the Power of Moms blog. With younger children she created a ritual that has given her an hour of time each morning. Similar to nap time in the afternoon, every morning at 10:00 the kids got an hour of room time. She introduced this time as a “special treat,” collecting numerous special games and activities that were rotated and only to be used during room time. She turned on the noise maker, and let everyone know that coming out early meant that their room time started over. She would then use that time to do what she needed most – get ready, work on a project, or even take a nap! Brilliant idea. The trick to implementing this one is to start gradually, with room time lasting just 15 minutes or so at first. Extend the time in 15-minute increments as you can. And be sure to regularly stock the room time activities so the kids always look forward to what they get to do during that time.
3. Plan a regular get away time each week
Whether you have to take off work or hire a babysitter, plan at least a few hours each week that is just for you. Make sure it is consistent, and treat it like you would treat your hair appointment (you NEVER cancel those, right?) Don’t schedule other things over it. This is a date with yourself, and YOU are the most important relationship you have. You might go shopping, lie by the pool with your favorite book, go on a bike ride or hike, or go to lunch with friends. Be creative with what you do and how to make this work, but always have a plan for what you are going to do so you use every precious moment of this time. But above all, GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO DO THIS! Guilt will counteract everything this get away is designed to accomplish. You deserve to be happy! And happy people spend time doing things they love.
There is a pretty great book out there that gives this advice: “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” Summer time might not be the best time to remodel the house, reorganize the storage room, or go back to school. If you have children home from school, remember that you only have them around you for a relatively short number of years. Build spending time with them or enjoying other summertime activities into your priority list. Simplify your expectations of yourself at work and in the home, and remember that there will be a more appropriate time to pursue these other things.
5. Ask for help
Remember, your strategies must change when your circumstances do. If summer shakes up your daily routine with more (or perhaps less) activities and people, then adjust your game plan. More people around means more people to help you get things done. My kids have learned to expect a “summer job” every day. These are the tasks that I do all school year long while they are gone during the day. In addition to the housework, there is now the yard work to consider. They enjoy the home and a happy mom, so they also get to participate in the workload. On occasion I have even hired help with the house cleaning or yard work. If that is a financial possibility for you, be grateful for the resource – not guilty about it. If you want to be happy and balanced, you can only do what you can reasonably do. Ask for help when you need it. And in particular, plan ahead for it if you can tell that a few weeks look particularly busy.
Now it’s your turn. How will you stay balanced and find Me-Time this summer?
Image by Sandrine Hudgens at creoleartphotography