Me-Time for Parents Who Know It's Not All About Martyrdom

You know the old Janet Jackson song, What Have You Done for Me Lately, (click here for some 80’s goodness) and well, my question to you parents is: What have you done for yourself lately? It’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of parenthood that we look around and it’s already bedtime. So I ask you again: What have you done for yourself lately?

Because I try to practice what I preach, let me just share with you that today, I managed to meditate and get a workout in, despite being a single parent and sole bacon provider and chef. I’m not trying to act like a goody two-shoes– I’m merely trying to point out that we have to make the time to take care of ourselves and not make a million excuses until we are on the brink of entering Crazy Town. (click here for some 90’s goodness)

It Just Takes a Bit of Discipline

We might think that we don’t have time to hit our favorite yoga class or to sit down with a friend and have a cup of tea and an actual grown up conversation, but we do—if we make the time. What it really comes down to is a healthy balance of both desire and discipline. Have you ever noticed that if you ask a person to describe their qualities, discipline is never one that immediately comes up? I don’t know, perhaps it’s because I’m an athlete, but discipline has become wired into my brain working circuitry. All I know is that life is so damn short, I don’t want to wake up one day having done more regretting than rejoicing.

Just because we have kids, doesn’t mean that we can’t have other things on our list of priorities. It simply requires a little bit of creative time-management. For example, my youngest daughter has soccer practice in the afternoon so after I drop her off, I go and do my workout, and come back an hour later to pick her up. My kids know that my workouts are a priority for me, so they give me some space and respect that ritual.

It’s the same with my morning meditation. Meditation is my Prozac and makes me a happier, calmer person; so if my door is closed, my kids know that if they are going to interrupt my sacred me time, then they better have a severed limb. Does that sound selfish to you? Darn right it is, but I prefer to call it “self-first”. Without these rituals in my life to keep me happy and balanced, I won’t be the best mother that I can be, and that is really important to me.

You Have to Make Time for Yourself

So many people ask me, “How do you manage to find the time to work out every day, meditate, write, and parent?” I always reply, “I just do it.” It’s not rocket science people; it’s simply organizing our time and prioritizing. If you are procrastinating on setting up a me schedule because there is never enough time, then MAKE the time. Don’t wait until tomorrow or next week, because we both know that it will probably never happen. Do it right this second, before you find a reason not to.

Pull out a piece of paper, write down your weekly schedule and MAKE the time to work in a daily 15-minute meditation, one-hour yoga class, or a weekly relaxing massage. Excuses are easy to find if you look for them. Trust me when I tell you how much better parents we are when we are consciously carving out the time we need to do the things that make us happy and fulfilled.

You Don’t Have to Be Self-Sacrificing 24/7

Lose the whole self-sacrificing thing because what that really comes down to is either low self-worth, or laziness. We do plenty for our babes, but we also need to learn to do things for ourselves and create some personal joy apart of the joy of parenthood.

It may not be easy at first, and your new plan may fall to the wayside, but you just start again tomorrow. I know better than anyone how exhausting raising kids can be, but I also know that when I’m doing things that matter to my well-being, my kids see me taking care of myself, which teaches them the value of doing what matters to them.

There was a time in my life when my children were small and I didn’t do much at all but care for them, and I eventually felt resentful. I wasn’t resentful toward them. I was angry with myself for using them as an excuse not to take care of myself and do the things that nourished my mind, body, and soul.

If you had to stop and scratch your head to the question “What have you done for yourself lately?”, now is the time to change that— next time that you’re faced with that question, you better answer with a smile and say “A lot.”

How do you carve out some me-time as a busy parent, and what do you enjoy doing the most?

Tags : parenting   motherhood   fatherhood   

Camille Aud
It's so tough when you're home with the kids 24/7. One of the things I had to teach them was to give mama some alone time throughout the day. I'm very strict with it - an hour after dinner, I get to lock myself in my room and take a bubble bath/read a book/meditate/watch trashy TV/do whatever I want!