Don't Commit A Felony. (Make time for yourself)
I know I've used a similar title before for another post. If you remember it, thanks for sticking with me. It was one of my first posts, and I think it should be revisited from time to time.
We've all had those weeks where we don't remember having a minute of quiet. Whether it’s because you’re all in quarantine, or your kids aren’t old enough for school, or it’s a holiday break. Something is always demanding your attention. These things range from important: "I need you to sign this paper for school" to slightly less important: "I need you to never take your eyes off me as I reenact my favorite movie complete with scene and costume changes."
It’s these times when I have a constant low grade headache and I can’t seem to finish a thought without being interrupted. The lovely time-change and impending holidays will only exacerbate the problem. (How Grinchy do I sound? Sheesh.) It’s time to get out in front of it, so we can actually enjoy family time and not lose our minds.
I'm writing this from the perspective of a stay-at-home mom, but these things are true for those of us who can't put work away. (The blessings and curses from working from home.) Or those of us who are caring for aging parents or adult children with special needs. So, if you were ready to click away, please don't. There may be something here for you too. We all have things that demand our time and attention. Mine just happen to be kids. The first step in making time for yourself is...
Find your team.
If you feel you're going it alone, it's time to find your team. A young stay-at-home mom in my Bible Study group spoke to us in an honest way last week. She said, "My husband works long hours and I love my baby boy, but it's a long time to be alone with him." What she needs is support. Don't we all? But, she feels guilty asking for help. I was proud of her for sharing her struggles and for the step she took to join a Bible study group where childcare is provided. I also happen to know she drives over a half an hour to participate.
If you're in her shoes, take some steps to find your team. Meet your neighbors or reach out to friends. Once you feel you can trust them, work out a time where you can swap kids for the afternoon. That'll give each of you an hour or so of quiet which may be just what you need. The solution may be as easy as a gym membership that includes childcare. (Never underestimate the power of an uninterrupted shower.) Maybe it's time to reconcile with a family member who wants to know your kids better. If it's safe, allow them access to you and your kids. If you’re a parent, you’ve been given a great gift, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. It's okay to allow them out of your sight for an hour or two to recharge your batteries. Remember the whole, "Put the crying baby in the crib for a minute and walk away." There are ways to do that when they're older too. Trust me, your kids will be able to tell you’re in better spirits when you come back to one another.
Use your time well…
Once the kids are away, you might feel the urge to run errands or fold laundry. I get that. But let me urge you to do something else with your delicious quiet time. This is YOUR TIME. Use it to do what you love -something that gives you energy. Maybe take a long bath with soft music. Curl up with a great book by the fire. Have a glass of wine or some hot tea. If you really want to get out, leisurely shop at your favorite store. Take a brisk walk. Or a slow walk on a pretty nature trail. The chores will still be there in a few hours. Don’t squander your time with them now. Do what gives you energy. Not sure what that is? What do you long to do when days are hectic? Those are your "energy-giving" hobbies.
My friend felt guilty for wanting time to herself. That's a lie the enemy wants us to embrace so we can continue to be miserable. Good parents take time for themselves. Period. Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty for needing that time. Think of the benefits your children will have. They’ll meet new kids at the gym or bake cookies with Grandma or get to play with neighborhood friends. It’s a win-win. Figure out how often you need a break (and how long that break should be) and plan accordingly. Schedule regular times away so you can maintain your sanity.
The truth is, we can't run on empty too long before things start to fall apart. When we don't get necessary time away, we do things we regret. Safeguarding against that is necessary and fun. Don't just do it because you deserve it. Do it because the people you love deserve to get the best version of you.
I’d love to hear what you do to recharge. Favorite hobbies or places to visit? Comment below.