Samantha Dooey-Miles on how to make the most of any pockets of time you manage to get to yourself…
Babies are brilliant in lots of ways but they do have a tendency to need looking after a lot. Which is part of the fun of having a baby I suppose, but then you get to a point where you can’t remember the last time you did anything for yourself and you wish you’d had a sliver of me time in amongst all the baby stuff. It’s not always easy to make time for yourself but it can be done.
1. Be a mother not a martyr
It is a surprise to no one that being the parent of a child, especially a small one, requires a lot of energy. However being a new parent does not equal allowing yourself to be permanently exhausted from now until your last child moves out. You know how expensive housing is, the kids might not be able to afford to move out until you’re in your sixties. Do you really want to be exhausted from now until you’re a pensioner? Of course you don’t! You are no good to anyone if you’re knackered all the time. Knowing you deserve not to feel this way is the first step in making some time for yourself.
2. Prioritise yourself over the house
If you’ve been working before maternity leave you may feel like you are not doing enough simply by keeping a whole human alive and clean and safe and not tapping on a computer all day or serving customers or chairing board meetings or whatever you did at work. That’s where the urge lots of mothers at home have to constantly be on top of housework comes from. The thoughts you have that both baby and home must be perfect at all times are lying to you. Dishes can wait a few hours while you do pilates, laundry will not mind being folded after this episode of House of Cards, you can home-cook tomorrow’s dinner and use up the stuff in the freezer tonight.
3. Utilise all childfree moments
The baby is down or your mother has taken the kids into town for a walk or your husband is playing hide and seek in the garden. Events like this are a perfect opportunity to do things you want to do with no care for anyone else. Have a sleep. Take the chipped polish off your toenails that you painted on whilst eight months pregnant. Watch Fifty Shades of Grey because you deserve a treat even if that treat is Jamie Dornan’s body, which now you think about it isn’t very in keeping with the feminist way you’re raising your daughter. Allow yourself not to fret that you should be doing more. See point one, there is nothing more important than making sure you are not frazzled.
4. Schedule your time
You don’t have the same number of opportunities for me time as you did before becoming a parent so you need to take a structured approach to make sure it happens. This means getting organised. Which is a bit boring but it’ll help. Sit with your partner one night and plot in what time you both want to have to do things on your own. Book the time into a shared online calendar that you can both access. Knowing next Saturday has been plugged in as your day off will help on Wednesday when you have to sit through five tantrums before breakfast is served. If there are things it is important to you that you do every few weeks, like getting your roots done or attending a reading group, book them in too so your partner can’t accidentally schedule that particular date in for when you go to Inverness to visit their great-granny. Be understanding to whatever your partner wants to deem non-negotiable booked in dates, it might not seem important to you but if they’re using their limited free time for it it is super important to them. Even if it is doing a triathlon you know they are not going to be able to complete without the necessary training they say they don’t need to do.
5. Get a babysitter you trust
Having a great, well-vetted babysitter outside of your family and friend group means you always have someone on hand to ring should everyone else be invited to the same wedding or social function as you that you don’t want to bring the kids to. It also provides someone you don’t have to explain anything to, you book them in and they come and do a great job and no one asks who was at the party, if that cow who once chatted your husband up was there and if so, what you said to her etc etc. Getting a babysitter on call to cover childcare for a few hours whenever you it’s required means if you need some me time sorted at any time you can do it, no questions asked.
6. Treat yo self
However much me time you can fit into your schedule, it may still not feel enough. In which case treating yourself can help fill the gap until your next lie in on your scheduled day off. Buy a nice box of chocolates for the film you’ve promised yourself once the baby is down, get a bath bomb to make your evening soak seem more luxurious simply because it’s fizzing, grab the bottle of wine you were saving for a special occasion and make Tuesday night the special occasion.