You hear it every time you fly somewhere. If the cabin loses pressure, place the oxygen mask on yourself first, and then assist those around you. It makes sense, doesn’t it? If you pass out, how can you help anyone else? Are you even a little surprised to be reminded that the same is true for parenthood?
We hear plenty about taking care of ourselves. As a parent, that sounds great! Let’s take time to relax and do something that fills the soul and refreshes us to take on the next unprompted meltdown! (I fondly recall the last meltdown I dealt with was because I put juice in the green cup and NOT the pink one. My bad.) So here’s the big question: How in the world do we take this mythical “Me Time” without guilt, or if we are seriously swamped and don’t have the help we need? There are times when I have been sure that parental “Me Time” was as likely as finding a unicorn being ridden by a leprechaun handing out hundred dollar bills. We hear a lot about how a hot bath helps, or taking time to read a book, or getting our nails done may help us feel refreshed and back to our happy selves again. What if those just aren’t options for one reason or another, or they just don’t do the trick? Don’t give up! I’m here to offer a few more ideas…take them and tweak them if you need.
- Meditation apps: I can hear it now. “Isn’t that kind of weird and New Age-y?” “I can’t shut off my brain long enough to meditate.” “I can’t meditate over the voice in my head begging for ice cream.” (Okay, that last one was me. Don’t judge.) So what do you do if you’re new to meditation? There’s an app for that! And there are lots of good ones that don’t cost you a dime. One of my new favorites is called “Calm”.
It guides you, so you can just work on focusing on the voice of the app helping you to calm your mind. The beauty is that you can set it for the amount of time you have available, so it doesn’t require a 30 minute commitment. Got 2 minutes? Give it a shot!
- Take your little one for a walk: But isn’t “Me Time” supposed to be time for yourself? Sure! But if you don’t have help close by, improvise! If your precious pumpkin likes being outdoors, try going for a walk. Fresh air will do you both some good! Even just in the back yard if that’s your best option. You could even make a scavenger hunt list and try to find leaves and other assorted nature things (Feathers, smooth rocks, snail shell, dandelion, etc). Getting out and being silly and having fun together can refresh you, too!
- Get to know some other daycare parents and expand your mom network: As you get to know other moms, you can make play dates, and even take turns babysitting for each other. No one knows the struggle better than another mom! If you are a Work-at-Home-Mom (WAHM), find meetup groups with other WAHMs and network with them. There are a lot of groups out there if you start looking. It may take a little time, but keep looking!
It’s hard to slow down and take time for ourselves. Burnout happens FAST! But in order for us to be the best for our kiddos, we need to stop for a moment and take time for ourselves. Mom guilt is real, but we need to learn to let go of it. Remind yourself daily that you are awesome! Try out some of the ideas above. Or Google something creative to try. The key is to find SOMETHING that helps you refill yourself. It doesn’t matter what you do, just make sure you are taking time for yourself. You’ve earned it!
Written by Jennifer Willis, MA, LPC-Intern
Supervised by Jennie Fincher, Ph.D., LPC-S