I went away with my family on the weekend to Jervis bay, and took off on Saturday afternoon for a windsurf that was supposed to be one hour, but turned into two! I felt a little guilty about this, as I had left Chris on his own to manage two little kids and a particularly large shore break. Will mumma guilt ever go away?!
I went regardless, because even though I admire the mums that “live for their kids”, I believe that this is my life too, and I want to live it for me!
What do I want my little girls to learn from me and my behaviour? Well, while they’re young I want them to know that I am important too. I don’t want them to take it for granted that my sole function is to service them, so I leave them occasionally to look after myself. As they get older, I want them to learn that THEY are important, and that they can achieve anything in life that they wish to – beyond serving the next generation. I want my kids to live for themselves too, and to realise that raising babies is not their sole function in this world.
It is all well and good in theory, but many mums I know are sole caregivers for their kids, with husbands working long hours and family overseas. So here are my 10 tips to squeeze time in for YOU, because YOU are important too!
- Get into your “active ware” as soon as you get up. Yes, this puts you at risk of being judged as one of “those” mums, but who cares? For me this means that I can take advantage of any scrap of opportunity to exercise! 10 minutes is plenty if you exercise intensely enough! Search “training programs” on our blog to get some exercise ideas!
- Turn your commute into activity. By the time I load up the car with kids and daycare bags, drive to two separate daycares, unload them, and drive home, I could have completed over half of a 60min walk or run (it takes 45min to do this). I can either perform the drive routine (45 min) and then make time for an additional 60 minute walk or run (totalling almost 2hrs of my day), or I can turn that commute into my walk, and have it done in an extra 15-30 minutes (totalling only a bit over 1hr). Even though it takes longer, it actually saves me time. Add onto this the fact you only get dressed once (instead of changing into your active ware after the school drop off), and you are exercised in even less time!
- Join a kid-friendly exercise group, and haul their butts there with you. Expect them to respect you and your session, like we do in the IntoMums groups. For that 30 minutes, YOU are the priority, and your kids learn that that is okay.
- Love a particular sport? Bring them with you or buddy up. I have taken Evie sailing with me (you can watch her first sail here: Evie’s First Sail), windsurfing with me, and this summer when she learned to boogie board, I hopped on one too and surfed right beside her. Not only is this valuable quality time together, but you’re getting your fix at the same time. If they’re too young, then my buddies and I have “mumma fun days” where we take turns to do a few laps or catch a wave while the other looks after the little ones. Search Instagram for Surfing Mums to see a wonderful example of what a group of mums have done in order to squeeze in their surf post-babies.
- Turn the child into your weight. When Evie was a baby I used to train with her as my weight (always in control!). She loved the feeling of being swung around, and I got my puff on, all within the confines of our apartment in Dee Why. See Baby Weights for some safe exercises, and always remember to squeeze up the pelvic floor on the exhale, and during the effort.
- PLAY. By far and large my favourite tip; get out there with a cricket bat or football, or jog alongside a bike. These are ways to exercise everyone and squeeze some YOU time without your child realising.
- Insist on your happiness, and let the rest go (like housework – we’ll work on hubby later). This is what I did when I went windsurfing even though I was leaving Chris to do the lions share of lunch time. Do not let your guilt get in the way of you living your best life.
- Take annual leave. 2 weeks a year is reasonable in any other job, why not ours? I take our clients away for 2 weeks of every year, and even though it’s a work trip, it is also 2 weeks off parenting! For some mums, this is unthinkable, but if you need this time to recharge, then look at ways to make it happen. I believe that it is good for my husband and kids to miss me, and visa versa. We certainly appreciate each other more on my return! On this note, Chris also has time off parenting. In February he is going to NZ for two weeks, and we also make time to go away as a family, so it is not one sided.
- Take a weekend. No other job in the developed world is 7 days and 24/7. Perhaps your mumma weekend is not 48 hours, but just 4 hours on a Saturday afternoon, but TAKE it! If you make it routine then your family will know to expect it and plan accordingly. Chris and I have one day each where we take both kids and the other parent has the day off parenting. This means that on a certain day in the week, he can vege out in front of TV, or I can go and get a massage, guilt free!
- Take a break daily. You are entitled to lunch! So what if it means the vacuuming doesn’t get done on a particular day, I guarantee it will still be there tomorrow! As in any other job, you are entitled to a 30-60 minute lunch break. Use this time to eat, read, or whatever recharges you for the afternoon. When Maia goes down for her nap, Evie gets 60 minutes of “quiet” time, where we plug her in to the TV or a tablet. This gives me 60 minutes to shower, or read, or eat, I just make sure that whatever I do, that it is for me!
Notice my language on the last 3 points. You are to TAKE these entitlements, and MAKE time to take them! You do not have a HR manager to do it for you when you’re a mum! and yes, you’ll probably feel guilty. However you will be a better mum if you are happy, and your kids will be better humans if they are happy 🙂 You’ll also notice that the time you squeeze out for yourself is not always for exercise. Sometimes meditation or zen time is what you need, or as I like to call it, “a Moment”.
I recognise that not all these tips will work for every family, and not every mum needs Mumma time away from her kids. But many do! Like a marriage, I believe that healthy family relationships need working on, and that I am as valuable to this family as my kids and husband. I believe that we need to take our kids to swimming and other activities that develop their skills, and then allow our spouses and OURSELVES to do the same! Sometimes this takes organisation, and sometimes we do not get the balance right, but simply working on achieving the ideal can go a long way to squeezing time for yourself.
If you have tips of your own, feel free to share them in the comments below!