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Feeling like I’m never alone is a surprising feeling I never expected out of motherhood. I always expected that I would want to spend every moment with my family. In reality, the need alone time became much more prevalent. But I quickly learned finding time for yourself as a mom is very tricky!
Between battling the guilt for wanting alone time, chores, children begging for attention, and other distractions, finding alone time feels impossible. So let’s conquer this issue together and find more time for yourself as a mom!
1- Put it on the calendar, and make everyone know!
This is absolutely KEY to finding time for yourself. Think about it, we’re constantly planning routines and scheduling things for our family, but are you planning anything for yourself? If you want to start prioritizing alone time, you need to schedule it and make it plain and clear for the whole household to know!
Put it in your Google or Apple calendar, put it on the calendar on your fridge, write it on a post-it note and stick it to your husbands head, whatever works! Writing it on the calendar or schedule for the day doesn’t just let your family know it’s a priority, it makes it a priority for you. When you have your “me time” scheduled, don’t forget to keep it! When you make keeping your “me time” appointment a priority, it’ll just be part of the routine.
2- Master the art of Independent Play
Mastering the art of “sittervising” can be a great way of carving out alone time when you still need to watch your kids. Rice bins are a staple in my house for when I need to just sit on the couch and enjoy coffee. As long as I’m somewhere where I can watch and ensure no massive catastrophe’s are happening, everyone is happy!
Age can play a big part in this. Older kids are definitely more capable of playing independently, but younger kids may want more of your attention. Maybe start with just 5 minutes of independent play, then work your way up to a longer time. Using a visual timer can help with kids who are reluctant to play alone.
If you find yourself feeling guilty about having your kids play independently, don’t! Seriously, it’s actually really good for your kids to become comfortable with independent play! A little bit of independent play time isn’t going to ruin any bond you have with your children. Even allowing babies to have some independent play time in a safe space can be great exploring opportunities for them. Plus, when you give yourself some alone time to rejuvenate, you’ll be more present when you are actively playing with your kids. It really is a win-win!
3- Change up your sleeping schedule
Some kids will sometimes intuitively match your sleep schedule, especially older kids. This can be nice, especially if you like sleeping in, but also frustrating if you have zero time for yourself. Staying up for a little bit at night or waking up a little earlier than the kids can be what you need for alone time.
I know some moms may be reading this while operating on 25 minutes of sleep, and I see you! This is probably NOT the tip for you, and that’s fine! But if your kids are halfway decent sleepers, and you’re not horribly overtired, giving yourself an extra hour at night or in the morning can make a huge difference.
4- Have a special box of “by yourself” toys
Much like “sittervising,” having a set of “by yourself” toys can be so helpful when you need to tap out of playtime with the kids. These toys aren’t the regular toys your kids play with all the time, these are SPECIAL toys!
My son has some LeapFrog toys that a relative got him for Christmas that I absolutely HATE, but he loves them. When I noticed that he plays with them totally independently, I realized that these toys I hate so much may actually be useful for me! Now we lock them up in a closet and only break them out for times when I need a break. He’s happy to play with his beloved annoying toys, and I’m happy to have a few minutes of alone time! It’s a win-win!
5-Delegate Household Chores
Washing dishes alone is NOT alone time! That is doing a chore, and if you’re drowning in chores, it’s time to have a conversation with yourself and/or your spouse.
If you’re a single mom, the fancy answer to this problem is to consider hiring a house cleaner (some companies are actually very affordable). If you have friends or family nearby, asking for some help around the house while you get some alone time could be helpful. If your kids are older, establishing an atmosphere where your kids help around the house can help as well.
If you are married, I understand getting spouses to help around the house can be tough. If you need help getting your husbands to help around the house, check out this blog post.
6- Streamline Your Meals
Why is it that dinner seems to suck up 98% of my time? Even moms who really enjoy cooking can find making dinner a huge time sucker! Creating ways to streamline your meals can be amazing for creating more time for yourself.
You can consider getting meal subscription boxes, such as Hello Fresh. Freezer meals are also a wonderful way to pre-make dinners and save time (The Family Freezer is hands down the BEST resource for all things freezer meal related). For my home, we rely heavily on our Crock Pot to get our dinners done, and it’s a massive time saver! When you streamline your dinners (and other meals), you may find yourself with more time than you had before.
7- Make what alone time you get restorative
When you finally get the coveted alone time you’ve been longing for, PLEASE don’t spend it doing something draining! Spend it doing something that restores you and makes you feel more refreshed!
I find that spending an hour scrolling through social media doesn’t make me feel restored. Most of the time it leaves me scratching my head or rolling my eyes! On the other hand, going for a walk or reading a book leave me feeling more refreshed. This is going to be very unique to your preferences.
Take some time and think about the things you do that feel restorative to you, and make it a priority to do those things during your alone time. I got a couple blog posts that can help you come up with good self-care ideas during your alone time here:
Time For Yourself = Filling your cup
Finding alone time as a mom shouldn’t be a luxury, and it shouldn’t be a point of guilt. Every deserves to feel refreshed, restored, and ready to mom again. Don’t feel like you’re spoiling yourself for spending a little time to yourself. And DEFINITELY don’t feel guilty about it.
The old saying says “you can’t pour from an empty cup,” and it’s true. When you haven’t had any alone time, you may find yourself stressed, touched out, and overwhelmed. A mom who feels that way may also find themselves about to snap at the drop of a hat. When you give yourself the gift of alone time, even just 5 minutes of it, you also give your family the gift of a refreshed mom.
They, and you, deserve that.