The rarest commodity when you have children sometimes feels like time to yourself. Life as a parent is all about putting the welfare and the needs of your little family above your own. In a single morning, you will probably complete a whole range of tasks, from getting them up and making their breakfast, getting them dressed, keeping them entertained and cleaning up their mess before you even begin to think of what you might need – and then often you might also go out to work.
While raising children is the most rewarding job ever, it can also be one of the hardest and most unforgiving. It seems like there’s always a huge to-do list – with your own needs coming firmly at the very bottom. Often it seems like there’s not much you can do about this – after all, the demands of being a family and running a house don’t stop. But equally, it’s important to still have time for yourself and each other with the odd date night – you don’t stop being a person when you become a parent, and caring for others means that you also need to care for yourself as well. But how is that possible when you already feel overloaded with things to do?
Find Your Pockets Of Time
It’s always going to be true that there are only 24 hours in a single day – and whatever you do, that isn’t going to change. Neither is the fact that you have caring responsibilities and work. But sometimes it’s all about how you approach the time you do have leftover. If you think carefully, it’s often possible to identify pockets of time that we have during the day – a lunch break at work, the half-hour before the kids wake up, or the spare hour in the evening after they go to bed. Often, this time can get swallowed up before we realise it – we start mindlessly scrolling through social media on our phones or we watch one episode on Netflix that somehow turns into three – and our precious time gets sucked into a black hole. If you can use some of this time for activities which ‘refill your cup’ then you’ll feel much more rejuvenated. Taking the time to practice some yoga at home, read a chapter of your book, paint, take a walk on your own, or use your mindfulness app will feed your soul in a very short space of time and prevent you feeling burnt out.
Keep On Learning
Continuing to learn is so important for ourselves – it develops us, challenges our preconceptions and broadens our horizons. Learning something new can be intensely reinvigorating and can even set us on a new career path sometimes. And there are lots of different ways to make learning a part of our lives. From starting a book club so that reading becomes a part of your life again to joining a local interest group, there are many avenues to opening up your mind. And if you want to make learning a little more formal, perhaps study towards a new qualification, then you don’t have to become a full-time student again. Distance learning has become huge in the past few years, with institutions such as Norwich University offering a huge range of online degree courses. You can fit studying around other commitments with online lectures, tutorials and assessments, and it could lead to a whole new life for you.
Review Your Morning Plan
Mornings can actually be one of the most intensely productive times in our day. There’s no feeling like having ticked off a huge chunk of your to-do list before your kids have even stirred. Many parents find aiming for power mornings to be just the boost they need – but it does mean getting up early. And that means you also need an earlier bedtime. You see, time to yourself generally only works when the kids are sleeping. But if you leave it until they go to bed at night, you’re tired too and it’s too easy to lose the time to your smartphone screen. If you try to gradually move back your wake up time by fifteen minutes at a time until you have a chunk of time in your mornings, it can be transformative. If you gradually manage to move your wake-up time to 5 am, that’s over an hour of unaccounted for time to yourself – around five hours a week. This is time that can be reserved for personal projects, where you can meet your own needs – and are then better able to meet the needs of others. But you will need to plan to sleep early too in order to make it work. It’s not for everyone, but for a lot of parents, it’s a lifeline to enable them to do things they never normally feel they have time for.