Just for Me
Making Time For YOU!
Let’s face it: women are caregivers. From the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed, most mom’s days (and brains!) are filled with the details of what needs to be done.
For kids, for spouse, for parents, for household management, for work…for pretty much ANYONE or ANYTHING except themselves.
The toll it can take on our bodies and spirit is very real.
- Nearly three quarters (72%) of family caregivers report not going to the doctor as often as they should
- 55% say they skip doctor appointments for themselves.
- 63% of caregivers report having poor eating habits than non-caregivers.
- 58% indicate worse exercise habits than before caregiving responsibilities.
(National Alliance for Caregiving and Evercare. 2006.)
Sound familiar? Making time for self-care isn’t easy in the milieu of everyone else’s needs…but in the big picture, it actually makes us better caretakers.
I was on a plane last week, my four year old sitting next to me. As the attendants were giving their safety presentation, they stressed putting my oxygen mask on before my son’s. The lady next to me rolled her eyes.
“I don’t know WHAT mother would put a mask on herself before her child.” She whispered to me.
“I know!” I replied, but my brain wondered…why not? At what point did it become de rigueur for mothers to risk passing out from oxygen deprivation rather than have their child wait for five seconds and have mother and child BOTH have enough air?
Carrying that metaphor back into the home and everyday, what boundaries or limits can you set around your caretaking to allow more time for yourself?
I think it’s easier to do if you’re very motivated to reclaim your time. So let’s start by making a list of five things that you love to do, and haven’t had time lately.
In my life, the list would look something like:
- Bikram Yoga
- Read books
- See friends more often
- Cook from scratch
So where could that time come from? This is where we have to get creative. It could mean a childcare swap with another mom once or twice a month, or signing a preschooler up for the early drop-off lunch program once a week.
It could mean asking your spouse to do school drop off a few mornings a week, or getting up an hour earlier each day.
It could mean teaching your kids some skills that you’ve been managing for them, but it could benefit you both to have them take over. These could include loading and emptying the dishwasher, setting the table, or collecting and putting away their own laundry. If you go that route, try to remember that you’re teaching them for the long term. They don’t have to do it perfectly now, and praising efforts over results sets them up for success.
So write one of each of your things to reclaim on an index card, as well as each of your time reclaiming strategies.
Pick one activity card on a Saturday, and four time-reclaiming cards. Choose the two reclaiming methods that make the most sense for the coming week, and gather any items you’ll need for the activity you’re focusing on that week.
This method will help you stay away from all or nothing thinking, where if you’re not doing ALL the activities and using ALL the methods, you’re failing. It’s all about increments, and having more time for yourself than you did the week before. But the most important step? Setting the intention and recognizing that you need and deserve that time.
Good luck, and let me know how it goes!