Moms wear many hats and tackle a slew of responsibilities every day. Depending on your children’s ages and circumstances, you might do everything from dressing and feeding your kids to picking them up from school and helping with homework. Then there are the household chores to deal with, too.
In the midst of all these moments and tasks, there’s very little time for you — even though self-care is essential for our well-being.
In her book The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You Jessica N. Turner suggests shifting your perspective from “I have no time” to “There is time to be found.” In most days, if not all, there are underused pockets of time, which you can claim to do “something that rejuvenates your soul,” she writes.
For Turner, a marketing professional, blogger and mom of three, those activities include crafting and blogging for her popular lifestyle blog “The Mom Creative.”
For you this may be writing, getting a massage, taking pictures, taking walks, painting, playing an instrument, meditating, practicing yoga, gardening or anything else you’re passionate about.
Turner includes this manifesto in her book, which might inspire you, too:
We believe that we need to make time for ourselves.
We believe in cultivating balance in our commitments and within ourselves.
We believe in letting go of self-imposed pressures.
We believe in that guilt and comparison do not belong in our lives.
We believe that taking care of our minds, bodies and souls is important.
We believe that pursuing our passions is life-giving and life-changing.
We believe that spending five minutes doing something we love is better than wasting that five minutes.
We believe in embracing help.
We believe that community matters.
We believe in giving thanks.
We believe in choosing joy.
We believe that life is not perfect, but it is beautiful.
Here are ideas from The Fringe Hours for finding and making time for yourself.
1. Track your time.
As Turner writes, tracking your time helps you see clearly where your time is being spent and where it’s being wasted. Write down everything you’ve done each day for a week. That includes washing the dishes, taking a shower, everything. Use a blank sheet of paper, Turner’s printable tracker or a phone app.
After the week is up, Turner suggests asking yourself these questions, and journaling your responses:
- What tasks are non-negotiable, such as working or taking your kids to school?
- What time was wasted?
- What activities can you streamline, such as doing laundry all at once instead of in daily bits?
- Are you doing too many things?
- Do you need to work on saying no?
- Did you do anything because not doing it would make you feel guilty?
- Could you ask for assistance or hire help?
- Did you take time out for yourself?
- If you did, how much time?
- How did you feel during the week overall?
- How did these emotions influence you and your activities?
2. Reconsider your mornings.
For years Turner woke up at 6 a.m. But this only gave her 20 to 30 minutes to herself before her family woke up. She slowly started pushing back her wake time (setting her alarm 15 minutes earlier every week for a month). At the end of the month Turner was waking up between 5:00 and 5:15 a.m., which she does today seven days a week.
This gives her 60 to 90 minutes to do whatever she wants. In a week that’s about five to seven hours for herself. In a month that’s about 25 hours. Typically, she uses her mornings to pray, write, read, scrapbook or work on other projects.
According to Turner, “When women make themselves the first priority of the day, they are able to better meet the needs of others.”
Think about all the ways you could spend your early mornings.
3. Take advantage of wait times.
On average we spend about 45 to 60 minutes a day waiting. While you’re waiting at the checkout line, at the school pickup, at the doctor’s office or at soccer practice, you can read, sew, journal or engage in other (portable) activities you’re passionate about.
Turner carries a Kindle with her, so there’s always a book in her purse. She also keeps cards accessible because she loves writing notes to people.
You also can use this time to take deep breaths, watch the sunset, or meditate.
4. Practice self-care during lunch.
Turner likes to leave work during her lunch break. “I find that when I do, I come back rejuvenated and ready to accomplish my work goals for the afternoon.” You can use your lunch hour for taking a walk, taking an exercise class, shopping, getting a manicure and pedicure or getting a haircut.
If you’re a stay-at-home mom, Turner suggests reading a magazine while sitting near your kids as they eat, or having another mom over for lunch. As your kids play, you can enjoy some adult conversation.
Make a list of five things you can do during your lunch break. Then pick one activity to do next week.
5. Structure your evenings.
According to Turner, this is another chunk of time that’s great for doing things you love. From 6 to 8 p.m. she and her husband enjoy family time. They eat dinner, watch a show, do bath time, play games and read stories to their kids.
After putting the kids to bed, Turner spends her last one or two hours on herself or her husband. Sometimes this means talking together and cuddling on the couch. Sometimes this means they’re both blogging.
What Turner doesn’t do are chores. “I have learned that I am most energized and refueled for the next day when I use those last hours of the day on me.”
List five things you can do during your evenings. Commit to doing one. Also, think of one chore you can stop doing for at least one night so you can focus on yourself.
Many moms feel guilty for thinking about themselves. They worry they’re stealing time away from their families. In this post Turner talks about how kids actually benefit when moms follow their passions.
Here’s just one poignant benefit:
“By taking time for me, I am making a powerful statement to my children that says: I matter. My passions matter. I don’t want them to just see me as the one who does the laundry, picks them up from school, and makes dinner. I want them to see a woman who is creative, loves her friends, and takes times for her own needs. I want my children to see a mother who values herself.”
Which no doubt is time well spent for everyone.