Whilst it might seem as though I have sufficient time since I am on maternity leave, in fact these days I struggle to get much done on some days. Looking after a small person is time-consuming on a good day; Throw in a bout of illness or a bad temper and even grabbing a drink can be tough. I doubt as a mother I am alone in sometimes finding it hard to get time for myself. There is always something that needs doing and coupled with the guilt complex most mothers have, it generally means that children, partner and housework all come before personal time.
But I have also come to learn that it’s important to have a bit of time to myself else I risk getting physically or mentally run-down. Whilst my pesky guilt-complex will kick in the moment I decided to kick-back on the sofa with a cup of tea once H has finally gone down for a nap, I fight to ignore it. Because if I don’t have 20 mins of rest then I risk not having the energy or tolerance for childcare as the day progresses.
So for anyone out there in a similar position who isn’t very good at taking time for their self, here are my suggestions of great ways to take a break:
It could be the news so you feel in touch with the world, a novel to take you away from life for a few minutes or a factual book so you learn and feel a bit more knowledgeable. Reading helps to relax the mind and switch it off from the here-and-now. Since starting to read more again I feel a lot happier and my mind is much more relaxed when I go to bed.
Sit on the sofa with a hot cuppa and watch TV:
I’ll admit that this is difficult during the day with a small person around and I imagine it only gets harder as the number of them increases. But should the opportunity arise where they are napping / playing quietly / out with a relative, take 15 – 30 mins (or as much as you can manage!) to make a drink, sit on the sofa and watch a quick bit of telly be it Daytime TV, an episode of a classic TV series (I’ve worked through several in the last few months!) or a bite-sized chunk of a favourite film.
It’s well known that getting active, even if you are tired, helps boost energy. Plus those wonderful endorphins will help improve your mood and focussing on exercise will help to clear your head. I’m not doing so well at this as I would like and I am feeling the physical and mental effects. Sure it’s an effort to do something but even some core-stability work and some squats count and they don’t require you to get changed. Or just pop the little one in the buggy and power walk your local streets – if you’re lucky someone will nod off too and be in a cheery mood when you get home.
Have a bath:
It gives your hardworking body and muscles a soak, gives you a bit of quiet time to clear your mind and / or double-up with point 1. If you can fit a bath in just before bedtime then it will also usually help you sleep better. Plus if you have a good exfoliate and moisturise you’ll feel nicely cleaned and refreshed.
Do something you used to do pre-children:
For me it’s usually going on my laptop. Sure I have my phone and tablet to get on the internet but I there are a lot of things I prefer doing on my laptop and I enjoy getting immersed in my little technology bubble, typing away on my keyboard. However I also used to enjoy cooking so if I have the energy I try and be a bit more creative in the kitchen to remind myself that I can still do it. I’m certain every parent has a hobby which is neglected once they have kids and reviving it even for a little bit is a massive mood boost.
Get your haircut:
Or have a massage. Or anything else to ‘pamper’ you a bit. This is more of an occasional way of looking after yourself because it requires scheduling and costs money. But if you can spare both those things this one can make a real difference. I didn’t have my haircut for almost 4 months after H was born; When I did I felt revived. Then at the weekend I had a massage which was a birthday gift. Initially my mind was racing ten-to-the-dozen. But half way through it gave in and I was the most relaxed I have been in as long as I can remember. I’m going to try and do something once a month if I can because it makes a real difference. It needn’t be a ‘treatment’ if that’s not your kind of thing either – it could just be going out on your own for tea and cake one afternoon!
Just remember that no matter how long the list of chores is you can only cross them off for a short time. So if now and again the dusting doesn’t get done as the cost of some ‘you’ time then it’ll probably only be you that notices!