The door clicks shut and I step out into the street. It is the same street as always. The same narrow, wiggly street with the smell of burning wood in the Autumn air. But I feel free, different. I have a whole hour of “me time” before I have to collect the children. A whole hour to do whatever I want.
I love having children. A family home that is bursting with energy and love. Sometimes, I have to confess that I find the love a little overwhelming, too may elbows, too many fists, too much shouting. Sometimes we just need a little time for ourselves.
As parents it’s so easy to put the needs of our children first. There is a never ending demand for attention or list of jobs that need to be done.
Sneaking off to spend time to do something we enjoy slips to the bottom of the pile and when we do get around to it, we feel guilty and don’t enjoy it properly.
But here’s a little secret.
Me-time makes you a better parent. If you regularly spend time doing something just for you, it recharges your batteries. You are better able to cope with the next tantrum or bout of tears without getting frustrated and fed up.
It doesn’t have to be heaps of time. Even 10 minutes a day, if spent actually recharging will give you some benefit.
The problem is, we often consider watching television or being on the computer as “me time”. That can help us to relax but, as with our kids, screen time affects our mood and should be limited.
Great Ways to Recharge with Me Time
Spend time with family and friends. This could be just a cup of coffee, an evening out. Or a girly trip to Pisa. (Hooray!)
Exercise. My secret pleasure is to swim. I take the kids to the pool for their class which gives me exactly 45 minutes to drive myself up and down the pool. No stopping. No talking. Just me and the water.
Meditate. Meditation is just another word for relaxing in a certain concentrated way. Stopping the rambling noise your brain makes. Listening to your surroundings and breathing slowly. Just focus on yourself. I love to grab 10 minutes, sitting in the sun meditating.
A Hobby. Something that you enjoy, something that rocks your boat. Something simple like sketching or knitting, doing a crossword. Something that focuses your mind away and helps you to relax.
Colouring. Did you know that colouring is a great way to force your brain to focus. When you are having a bad day, colouring can help you to stop thinking so negatively. Colouring is a great way to relax.
Read a Book.
Grab a special coffee. Sit in the sun for 10 minutes and actually enjoy the taste of the coffee.
Listen to Music.
A Manicure or Pedicure.
Go to the Hairdresser. I always wish there was a magic hairdresser who’d click her fingers and my hair would be cut. Seriously, I’d happily pay double. But why not make it time that you enjoy? Take time out of your schedule and enjoy chatting or just sitting.
If you don’t have “me time” in your routine, now’s the time to start. Stop feeling guilty that you don’t have time. Think about how it will make you more efficient in other areas and a more patient, less stressed parent.
Find something that you like doing and build it into your routine. This list is only a small suggestion. You can do whatever you like.
So tomorrow when I step out onto the exact same street at 7 in the morning, for a 3 whole days by myself (off to Florence in Italy with two of my old school friends), I am going to make sure I enjoy every single minute of my time. I’m not going to feel guilty (OK, just a little bit) about being away from my husband and kids. I know they’ll be fine. I’m going to enjoy my Me Time and when I come home, I’m going enjoy all those elbows and fists and snotty little kisses.
Happy You, Happy Family
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If you are looking for a book to help you become the happy parent that you want to be, "Happy You, Happy Family" is an awesome read. Easy to read and actionable ideas. Kelly has a great section on how to work "me time" into your life.