"Time for Yourself—Finding It!"
by Shelly Burke, Author of Home is Where the Mom Is and publisher of the Nebraska Family Times
In Mark -37 the Bible recounts an episode in Jesus’ life that happens over and over in every mother’s life. Jesus had been up late the night before, driving out demons and healing the sick (substitute “bad dreams” for “demons” and it sounds like many evenings for moms!). He got up early and went to find a solitary place to pray. But Simon and his companions found Jesus and said “Everyone is looking for you!” Do you sigh when your kids or husband find your hiding place?
How can you find time by yourself, to read God’s Word, pray, exercise, or do something else that you enjoy doing?
First, you must believe that you deserve a little time to yourself. Moms spend so much time “giving” – to their kids, husband, home, church—that it can be hard to change the focus to ourselves. Jesus took time to Himself to pray, rest and be refreshed; shouldn’t we follow His example?
Most moms find that it’s not the big crises that bring them to feelings of frustration, but the smaller, “never done” tasks and responsibilities of family and home, like laundry, cooking, answering questions, cleaning, grocery shopping…and the list goes on. Moms don’t have built in “break times” or government mandated lunch breaks, and most days keep going and going and going and going until everything is done…which so rarely happens.
Here are some hints for finding time for yourself during the different stages of motherhood:
When your kids are babies, be sure to take advantage of quiet time during nap time. Instead of trying to do the 100 things you “have” to do during his or her nap, think about what would help you the most; a quick nap to recharge your energy, taking a few minutes to just sit and read a devotion or that new magazine, or quickly get a few quick “to-do’s” done? Encourage dad to have time with baby, whether you take a hot bath, undisturbed, grocery shop by yourself, or sit at the park and read.
When your kids are toddlers, encourage naps or at least “rest time.” Explain to your kids that “mom needs some quiet time so she’s not tired later.” Provide them with books, crayons or markers, paper and other (safe, not too messy) craft items. The skill of learning to entertain themselves is an important one! Make early bedtimes a habit. If your kids aren’t ready to sleep, encourage them to read or color, just enforce the rule of “staying in your room.”
One more hint: When you notice the kids are quiet, peek in and make sure nothing is being cut, hit, flushed, or swallowed, and then go to your “quiet place” without another word. If the kids see or hear you they’re bound to need something so just stay within earshot and read the paper or do something else you enjoy, for as long as the quiet lasts. You’ll be surprised at how much better you feel after just a few minutes “off”.
When your kids are in school, it’s easier to find time for yourself, but moms are often reluctant to do so because they want to get all of their errands done before the kids get home from school. It’s important to have some of your “quiet time” during the day so that you’re relaxed and ready to spend time with your kids when they get home. During their high school years my kids would come home from school hungry and ready to talk, but the window was small; if they had their snack andwent to do chores or got involved in homework while I was finishing up a task, I’d missed my chance to find out about their day.
During empty nest years you’ll probably find that you’re as busy as you’ve always been, but instead of diapers and homework and teenager worries, you’ll be more involved in a home business, hobbies and church and volunteer work. It’s still important, however, to take quiet time to spend time with God and refresh your mind and spirit so you don’t get burned out always doing for others. Look at you schedule and include “me time” when it’s convenient for you—and then be sure to enjoy it!
(To read more about finding time for yourself and enjoying it, order Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom’s Guide to Caring for Yourself, Your Family, and Your Home. Mother’s Day is coming quickly; Home is Where the Mom Is will make the perfect gift for any mom! Click the link on the right side of this page to order.)
(I’m also blogging at Nebraska Family Times.
See my post today about “Talents and Tasks.”)