How much time do you spend each week on yourself? Doing things you love and enjoy, just because you want to? And why is it so important to prioritise yourself?
Sara Kerrigan from Martini Mum explains why me-time for mums is so precious – and in such short supply – and shares ideas for how you can make more of it.
Why our needs are now at the bottom of the pile
The art of parenting has gone a little crazy over the last decade. More often than not a parent’s world now revolves around their children, and not the other way round like it did when we were growing up.
The needs of mums are often pushed to the bottom of the pile, and when they do get an opportunity to take some well-earned ‘me time’, they feel guilty about it.
But why is that? I think that women today are placed under too much pressure to be the perfect mother – as a result, in trying to achieve what for most of us is unattainable, they lose their sense of identity and the connection with the woman they were before anyone called them ‘mum’.
And before they know it, they can’t remember the last time they watched a film during the day, finished a book or discovered a new band or singer they loved.
We’re overloaded with advice on how to be the perfect mum
I believe this pressure comes from the overload of well-meaning online advice. There’s a plethora of websites and blogs filled with different techniques, anecdotes, opinions and exposure to what other mums are doing and how they are doing it.
Some of it is very valuable, but put it all together and it can be overwhelming. I’m pretty sure that our parents, and certainly their parents, didn’t worry so much about whether they were raising their children with the right method – they just used their instincts, got on with it and didn’t think twice about doing things for themselves.
I strongly advocate the idea that mums should take time out for themselves to reconnect with their passions and interests. Because when mums are happy and relaxed, they are much better equipped to deal with the pressures of everyday family life.
Four ways I make time for ME
And the good news is that the tide is starting to turn. Everywhere I look, mums are starting to reclaim time for themselves, and I am one of them!
Here are four things that I do to fit a little me-time into my week and strike a balance between myself and my home and work responsibilities.
1) I take a class
Every week, I make time for a Pilates class. It’s a simple solution and it’s only one hour a week, but it’s sometimes the only guaranteed hour I have in the week.
2) I use a one for them : one for me ratio
I split my weekends into doing things with the kids and doing things for myself. This doesn’t include taking them to lessons or parties, but does include playing games, reading books or doing something creative.
If I’ve spent some quality time with my children then I don’t feel guilty about doing something for myself, like taking a bath in the middle of the day or a having a bimble around town on my own.
3) I find things to do that my children and I all love
I love going out for lunch at the weekend, and when we go I take activities that I can do with the kids. So I get to enjoy someone else cooking and a glass of wine, and they enjoy doing things with me without distractions at home taking away my attention.
We sing Karaoke! I always thought it was so lame, and who’d have a machine at home?! But we all know that giving birth changes you. I cannot sing for toffee but there is nothing better than belting out a few ballads to relieve stress, and it’s probably the most fun we have at home.
Going to the cinema is fun too. The Odeon kids club is fantastic value for money and great for the winter months. Again it’s something we all enjoy. Day’s out…Peppa Pig World, no. Bristol Aquarium, yes!
4) I celebrate Champagne Fridays
Every Friday, I share a bottle of champagne with my husband. We don’t go out as much as we would like to, so we make the most of the time we have at home. It’s a treat, and a ritual that I look forward to every week.
How can you make more time for YOU?
Our children are loved and adored, and while they may be at the centre of our worlds, they’re not the centre of the universe. Making time for me ensures that I have plenty of time, energy and enthusiasm for my family the rest of the time.
But what about you? Do you feel like you need to reclaim a little time for yourself? What do you do when you do get some time for yourself? Is there anything you do on a regular basis? What small changes or promises to yourself can you make to enjoy more me time too?
Serra Kerrigan is founding partner, editor and writer at Martini Mum, an online magazine dedicated to helping mums make the most of their me-time and remind them that it’s okay to put themselves first once in a while.Serra Kerrigan