How to Add “Me” Time Back into Your Life as a Mom
“Having a child will change your life.” If I had a nickel for every time I heard this statement while pregnant, I would be one wealthy woman. Before having a child, I always thought, “well yes, of course. I KNOW this”. And to some extent, you do know. You probably wouldn’t have planned to have had a child otherwise. Even so, I truly don’t think you can appreciate this statement in its entirety until you experience it.
Having a baby really does change every single aspect of your life. Everything from how you go about daily activities to making major life decisions is different now. Now that we’re four months in, it all seems normal. My pre-baby life seems like a distant memory, and I have no desire to return to it. Making this adjustment over the first six weeks or so was quite jarring in many ways, though.
One of the adjustments that has been the most difficult for me has been the loss of “me” time. It sounds selfish, doesn’t it? I have this amazing new person in my life, and I’m mourning the loss of my personal time. I had been plugging along just fine until a recent moment when I met my limit and broke down to my husband. In addition to my full-time job, I am also a freelance photographer. So my days would go something like this: wake up, get myself and Beckett ready, get Beckett to child care, work all day, pick Beckett up, entertain/feed/etc. Beckett until bed around 8 p.m., work on editing photos until going to bed around 10 p.m., wake up once between 2 and 4 a.m. to feed Beckett, and repeat the next day. I literally felt like I never had a moment to breathe.
For several years before Beckett was born, one of my favorite ways to unwind was working out. I even continued this through the nine months of my pregnancy and it served me well both physically and mentally. Post-baby my workouts have been few and far between. While I was on maternity leave I found it somewhat manageable to fit it in, but since returning to work, it has become much more challenging. After my breakdown to my husband, though, I decided that it was something I needed to make happen again. Here are a few tips on how to successfully add “me” time back into your life:
- Make it a priority. The minute you become a mom, your child takes center stage. Your focus is nearly 100 percent on them, and your focus on you is close to non-existent. Just as your child is a priority, though, YOU should be too. You will be a better parent if you give yourself a chance to refresh every once in a while. So just as you add a work meeting to your calendar, add your “me time” activity to your calendar and commit to it.
- Drop the guilt. When Beckett first started going to child care, I wanted to spend every waking moment I could with him while he was at home. I quickly dropped working out from my daily regimen in favor of spending time with him. I would have felt guilty spending another hour away from him after being apart all day. In all reality, I still do want to spend that time with him. What I have learned, though, is that I need to take that hour for myself some days. It allows me to return home in a better mental state, and once again, be a better parent.
- Find what refreshes you. If you’re going to spend that extra hour or so away from your child, you will want to make sure it’s time well-spent. Whatever you choose to do should not feel like a chore. You should look forward to it and come away from it feeling refreshed. For me, it’s attending a Pure Barre class. Maybe it’s also exercising for you, but maybe it’s not. It could be having a cup of coffee with a friend, reading a book or taking a walk. Whatever it is for you, make sure it’s something you enjoy and really want to do.
- Be reasonable. Before having my son, I attended exercise classes 5-6 times a week. Obviously, that’s no longer possible, so I’ve adjusted my expectations of myself accordingly and aim to attend class three times a week. Find what works for you. Maybe you can take an hour every day for yourself, and that’s great. But if expecting an hour of “me” time every day adds more stress than happiness to your life, then it’s not the answer. It may take some trial and error, but find the frequency that’s doable and right for you.
At the end of the day, it’s not always easy to focus on yourself as a mom. It almost feels like you’re going against the grain sometimes. If it makes you a better person and a better parent, though, then it is the right thing and it is worth it. Find what re-energizes you and commit to it. You won’t regret it.
Do you want more guidance on how to find time for yourself as a working mom?
Use the below player to download, follow, and listen to Episode 2 of the Bright Horizons Family Matters Podcast: Making Modern Family Life Work. Click here to learn more about the Bright Horizons Family Matters Podcast.
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