*Read dad for each mom if you’re a guy. All of this applies for you too of course 😉

In your life you have many roles to play. If you are having kids, you are probably a mother (guys, read father here 😉 ), a partner, (self-)employed, a friend, a housekeeper and maybe you have other roles like player of some kind of sport, painter, hiker, etcetera. It’s not easy to distribute time equally  for each role. Often, the roles that give you pleasure and time to relax are the roles neglected.

It’s just the way it goes

Wake up early, stressing to get the kids ready for school, give your love a hug and a kiss (don’t try to win ten seconds by skipping this part!), rush to work, get stuck in traffic, late at work, ignorant colleagues, nobody picks up the phone, lots of stress, traffic jam on the way home, just in time to pick the kids up, quickly cooking or order some dinner-to-go, get the kids into bed and fall into the couch and watch TV.

It’s just the way it goes.

Yeah. It could be. You could also choose differently.

But how to make me time for moms?

Create insight in your week plan

Start by making a list of things you like to do. Be honest. If you don’t like reading a book with your kids, don’t lie and don’t write it down. Only choose what you really like and list it. Also the weird things or things you think you could never do. You could write down ‘read a book’, or ‘write a book’, or ‘go for a walk’, ‘do yoga’, ‘make a painting’, ‘have a cup of tea with a friend’, or ‘cook fancy dinner, or ‘make love for at least four hours with my partner (or any random stranger if you prefer so 😉 )’.

Now take a week planner. Use your agenda or draw one on a piece of paper. For hour and each day, you write down the things you really have to do. Bring kids to school, go to work, block time for your own company, cook… all those things, write them down and put a timeframe to it. For example: Monday 8.00AM – 8.45AM bring daughter to school. Monday 9.00AM-10.00AM write blog post etc.

You will see there are empty spaces in your week plan. Now take your list of things you really like to do. Pick at least three items and schedule them into your week plan. 

Schedule me-time

That’s the secret: you have to schedule your time for yourself into your daily life. That means you take your own well-being seriously. If you don’t, you will start vacuuming the moment your kids watch Sesame Street or you do the dishes in the middle of the night. But how do these things get done? Well, maybe your house will get a little messier when you prioritize your well-being. But think of it this way: when you’re old and grey, do you want to remember yourself for your clean house or for how great you felt and how much you enjoyed life?

Me-time is the least selfish thing

Isn’t taking time for myself in my busy life not a selfish thing to do? Shouldn’t I spend every minute with my kids, or make sure the house is neat and everybody is taken care off?

Nope.

I repeat: nope.

By totally neglecting your own needs you will feel stressed and absolutely not the best you that you can be. What will happen when you feel stressed? Your kids will feel your stress and get recalcitrant. Your partner will get agitated. Your friends will get grumpy. In short: you will take many people with you into your bad mood.

What will happen when you feel totally relaxed and happy? Your kids and partner will feel good, even if the house is messy. Your friends will be happy. And what will happen when all those people are happy? Even more people are happy. So by taking care for yourself and your own well-being, you make the world a happier place!

My experience

I have three daughters younger aged between 0 and 4. I’m self-employed: I’m a healer, I sell spices, I have this blog, I’m in the Advisory Board of the Dutch State Forestry Service, I write project proposals and there are some other things I’m working on. I have a partner and many friends. I’m the social type and I love spending time with my friends. I also have three horses, love doing yoga, make paintings, walking, dancing and cooking. And I’m responsible for part of the house keeping activities.

In the past I totally forgot myself. If I would drink a cup of tea while sitting on the couch, I would feel guilty. Because I hadn’t washed the windows yet, there’s shopping to do, my work isn’t finished. I’d work and work. When I had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night I would put new laundry in the machine. My to-do list was never ending. The me-time I took was in the car, stuck in traffic on my way to work.

That wasn’t ideal. I felt bad, stressed, unhealthy and unhappy. At a certain point, I was pregnant with #2 and felt miserable all the time, my boyfriend and I decided I needed to change things. I quit the job I didn’t like and became self-employed. Following my heart by becoming a healer made me already feel better, but now I also could choose when I wanted to work.

At first I would feel guilty to bring kiddo #1 (and later #2 and #3) to childcare while I was at home. So I would work like crazy all day. Didn’t work out very well. At some point I realized that while my kids were at childcare and my partner wasn’t at home, I could also work a bit, and take some time for me too.

Nowadays, three days a week all kids are at school or childcare. After bringing them, I go to see my horses. In the early morning I walk in the pasture. I may go for a ride, or just watch them. Those moments are sacred to me. I feel grounded, happy, filled with energy, peaceful.

Feeling great, it takes less time to do the things I have to do. I’m a happy mom, because I take care of myself. In the evening I usually don’t drop dead in front of the tv. One, because we threw out the tv (only have tiny one left with three channels to choose from for the kids to watch sesame street) and second, because I don’t need to. I sit behind my computer and happily write a blog post, go for a walk, do some yoga, have a long conversation with my partner or hug one of the kids if they can’t sleep.

My boyfriend and I support each other in taking time for ourselves. I go riding my horse or dancing in weekends, socialize with friends and even went to a conference in Norway on my own some weeks ago. Next week Sebastiaan will go for five days on a road trip to Germany and couchsurf with people there. I’m inviting friends over to cook, drink wine and have a good time in the meantime 😉

Still there’s a lot to learn. I haven’t been painting as much as I would like. I am still thinking very efficiently about regular tasks (folding laundry while dinner is cooking and kids are playing around me) and force myself to do things. I watch outside and see the windows are full of spider’s webs and my car in front is quite green and grey (it should be black). Ah well…