We have been thinking a lot this week about leisure time. With the introduction of the bumGenius Freetime, one of our goals was to give parents back those few extra minutes a week that you might spend stuffing your pocket diapers. It may not be a ton of time, but as you well know, every minute you can save from laundry or housework can be invested in your family or even yourself.
Finding time for you
January 25, 2012 9:31 am
Experienced moms will often shower new moms with the advice, “Don’t forget to make time for yourself!” I don’t know about you, but I struggled with how to do this without feeling completely selfish and guilty the entire time.
I believed these women, but I just was unsure how to make it work. I began slowly at first. At nap time, I would toss a load of laundry in the wash and sit down with a sudoku or crossword puzzle. Sure, it wasn’t completely selfish, but I don’t believe it has to be. What I found was that when my time was up I had something that was completely mine and my little ones could not undo. Technically, they could grab my pencil and scribble all over it. Which they did, on more than one occasion, but you get the idea. It wasn’t another task like dishes, laundry or diaper changes that would have to be repeated again in a few hours. I didn’t do it every day, but I tried to carve out at least two 15 minute sessions a week. It was amazing how that little bit of me time changed my outlook on my dreary, wintery, stuck at home with three under two years days.
As my children grew older, slept longer and went to bed at a regular time, I began to expand my “me time”. I traded my puzzles for projects that took a bit longer like knitting or crochet. I watched online videos to learn the skills. I chose simple projects like washcloths or coffee cozies that would bring me satisfaction quickly and hide my rookie mistakes. Again, I was surprised how finishing a simple project empowered me and changed my attitude. As my skills progressed, so did my courage. I began to knit and crochet while my children were still awake and toddling around. All the while, they watched and asked questions.
It was not the easiest thing, but I began to realize something significant. Not only was I giving myself the gifts of leisure and new skills, I was teaching my children lessons as they watched. They would watch how I taught myself a new skill. They witnessed my frustrations and responses when things didn’t go as planned. They would rejoice with the beauty that unfolded before their eyes.
Now, as they grow older, we are beginning to share hobbies. I don’t knit and crochet as much as I used to, my new obsession is running. Together, we have engaging conversations about health, exercise, how muscles work and much more. My children ask to join me for runs, and occasionally I oblige. I want them to learn to take care of themselves while taking care of others, but I do occasionally say to them, “Not today, Mommy needs some alone time.”
Sometimes I say to my older children, “You seem to be having a rough day today. Do you need some alone time? What would you like to do for yourself for a few minutes?” When they complain, I am able to say to them, “Remember last week when I was having a rough morning? I went for a run and when I was done, I felt much better.” They reluctantly nod their heads and walk off with slumped shoulders to their ‘fun’. When they are finished, they often return with joy to report how much better they feel. It’s powerful to see how they are already learning how to self-correct bad attitudes with these tools I have modeled for them.
I am amazed at the wise women who encouraged me to take time for myself. I wonder if they had these types of experiences with their children. I wonder if the knew about all I would discover about myself and how to lead my family through the simple process of taking a few minutes for myself.
Now, I’m the woman who encourages harried moms to take a few moments for themselves. I rarely get the opportunity to explain why it’s so important as our children circle us with taps, cries and tattling. All I can to hope is that they’ll catch the wise, knowing look in my eye and take their first steps down that path to discover the same lessons I have. Their journey may look a bit different than mine, as each family has it’s own personality and priorities. They may not choose a physical break like I have, but rather a mental break with the children still close by.
How do you carve time out for yourself? What hobbies or passions do you enjoy during those few precious moments to yourself? How has taking care of yourself had a positive impact on your family? Share your stories with us!