With two kids under three, an expat lifestyle, no family or friends nearby, and a husband that travels at least once a month for work, I don’t get a lot of personal time. So, I’ve figured out how to wrestle as much time as I can. In this post, I’ll share how I squeeze in personal time and the single best way to get consistent personal time as a stay at home mama.
As a stay at home mama, personal time can be a solid five minutes to breathe and plan out your day. It can also be a quick hot shower and fresh clean clothes. Most of us just want five minutes; two hours seems impossible, but that’s exactly the kind of consistent personal time I want you to have. You’ll notice I keep saying consistent time. It’s great to have a few minutes here and there, but you need time you can depend on, plan for, and look forward to doing what YOU want to do.
Grab Some Consistent Personal Time
In no particular order, here are 5 ways you can grab some consistent personal time.
#1. Simultaneous Naps. Get your kids on the same nap schedule. My youngest is still an infant, and my oldest is a toddler but every day I grab at least 1 hour (sometimes 2 hours) while they’re napping. I plan for 1 hour each day to catch up on chores, start dinner, write, or (gasps!) sit down and watch a show. It’s your time. You can spend it how you’d like.
#2. Childcare. No, I’m not suggesting that you put all of your kids in childcare to get a few minutes of clarity—unless you want to do that. I’m suggesting introducing some form of organized childcare—daycare, a nanny, rotated playdates—for your older (non-school-aged) kids.
#3. Uniform Bedtime. Just like nap time, if your kids go to bed at (or near) the same time then you have a moment to breathe. It also means that you can enjoy your kids during the day because you can anticipate when you’ll have free time to get the chores done (or at least started).
#4. Ask for it and Plan It. One of the best ways to schedule time for yourself is to ask your spouse to take the reigns at certain times of the week so you can get some time to yourself. In our house, Saturday mornings are mommy time.
The Best Way to Get Consistent Personal Time
#5 Wake up Early! Don’t hate me for this one. This was one of the best pieces of parenting advice my mom ever gave me. Initially, I just replied with a polite, “sure mom,” but after we had baby #2 before baby #1 turned 2 years old, I was a believer. Waking up before your kids is the single best way to get consistent personal time.
At our house, my kids wake up between 6:30 and 7:30. So, I wake up around 5 am. I don’t set an alarm clock when I wake up at 4:45 or 5:15, I just get up, get dressed (shower at night) and start my day with lemon water and some green juice. Then it’s time to put breakfast on, start the coffee, enjoy a cup before the kids wake up, and sometimes I even have a few moments to write. That glorious morning time—occasionally 2.5 hours!—is amazing. It’s not easy to train your body to do this but with an infant, your body gets used to waking up every few hours anyway. So, I just didn’t untrain myself.
Personal Time + Mama = Happier Mama!
Right. So that’s it. I use these five tips every day to section off some down time for myself. Before I discovered (more like stumbled over) these ideas, I found I was more tired and more grumpy. What’s worse is that my kids were also grumpy, and grumpy kids + a grumpy mama = an unhappy household.
Using these ideas every day helps me to breathe a bit. It gives me a chance to be me (Ciara) and not just mama. And as a mom (whether you stay at home or work outside of the house), it’s important to remember that you’re a person and not just a human gopher for little dictators.
How do you make time for yourself mama? Leave your tip in the comments below.