As a mom of three, I literally beg, borrow, and steal every quiet moment I get to myself. When one kid finally goes to sleep, it seems like someone else wakes up or needs me.
Working from home doesn't help matters much. When I taught face-to-face at the high school, I got some “me” time. Granted, I squished that “me” time into my 25 minute lunch break or the five minutes between classes, but working outside of the home is very different from working inside the home — with kids.
These days, I depend on my boys to take naps or my daughter to be home from school and willing to play with her brothers. When I find those very small moments, I work my heart out to complete the most demanding and time-sensitive tasks. Then, once the kids are in bed, I work hard again to get caught up and sometimes — just sometimes — I get ahead.
I've learned a few things along the way about how to find time for myself.
- Get it done when you have the chance. Gone are the days of procrastination. Remember when you could put off that English paper until the night before it was due and then crank out an A+? If you're like me, that just doesn't really happen any more. Not that you aren't talented enough. When you're a parent, Murphy's Law kicks in way more than we'd like. If we were to put something off like that, most likely we'd be graced with a sick or teething or just not-sleeping-in-general baby. So, take care of what you need to do as soon as you can. It'll free up more time later.
- Make yourself stop. Setting time limits for work is a good thing. When you work a 9 to 5 “regular” job, you get to (for the most part) clock out and go home. When I was a face-to-face teacher, I did take work home with me. But, with the world of social media and online jobs, we could spend all day and night working. We have to make ourselves quit for the day. I have begun setting a time limit for myself. By 8:30 each night, I try to be offline as long as I don't have any meetings.
- It's okay to put something on the back burner. We have to prioritize. As parents, our children are job #1. Then, we have to look at what else we have on our to-do list and make some choices. Not everything must be done today, and some of it can certainly wait for tomorrow. It's okay to let things go in order to have some time to yourself.
- Decide what you need to be relaxed. Whether it's sitting and watching a TV show or reading the book you've had on your reading list since before baby was born, you deserve time to yourself. What is it that will give you the most relaxing time? Do it. For me, it's watching one of my favorite shows without my computer or iPad or phone in my hands. Sometimes, it's doing something crafty like making a sweet new hairbow for one of my friend's daughters.
When my oldest was born, the most technological item I had was my desktop computer. In the few short years since she joined my life, I've added laptops, tablets, eReaders, and smart phones. It's hard to remove ourselves from work if it's readily available to us.
But we all deserve time to just be us — and to relax.
What tips do you have for finding time for yourself? Share!
Lydia Richmond is a high school English teacher with three kids, two dogs, a cat, and one hunky husband. She blogs over at Cluttered Genius where she writes about the joys of life that — sometimes — get a little cluttered. You can join her on Facebook or Twitter.