As mothers, our world is constantly changing. When I had my first child, self care or me time was rarely mentioned. Now it’s all I ever see. And just as quickly as the narrative around motherhood has drastically changed, so has our own sense of normal. With COVID-19 ever lurking in the back of our minds and stay at home orders being extended for the third time this year, I’m sure I wasn’t the only mom wondering how to get some me time during quarantine.
And like most, I searched Pinterest, Google and even Instagram for real tips that I could implement, wanting to make sure I would be able to pour from a full cup each day versus the bone dry one I had been trying to utilize lately. However, I really didn’t find much. I, of course, found the normal, put myself first and set aside time each day that I’m sure we’ve all seen and read. But that’s not what I needed. I needed real action steps that I could implement to improve my day to day. With four children at home, I needed help on how to find time for self care during quarantine. Which, if you are reading this, I am assuming is why you are here too.
While the above tips hold some truth to them, having no clear steps behind them, they offer no value. An overwhelmed mother who’s looking to make some changes to ensure she can get some me time while at home during quarantine needs more than make time for yourself. How do I do that? Especially when being home has turned into more work than originally expected. I mean, I never once thought I would be homeschooling a preschooler, first grader, and third grader at the same time I was trying to keep my toddler from destroying my house. But here we are. Quarantine life for moms. But why then is it so easy for dads?
Make You A Priority And me time Will Come Naturally
Have you ever wondered why it’s so easy for a father to carve out time for himself away from his kids and family? I know I have. What I’ve learned is that while they love their families they also love themselves and aren’t afraid to choose one over the other when needed. Which is a foriegn concept for most moms. But why should it be?
Now before you look at me crossed eyed, this shouldn’t be a bad thing. The issue a lot of mothers have is that’s not what society tells us. As I mentioned above it wasn’t until recently that the thought of a mother needed self care started surfacing. For far too long, a mother’s job was to sacrifice. Sacrifice her dreams, her hopes, and even her own well being for the betterment of her children. And with that being the main focus for so long, having to now switch that mindset will not be easy. Especially trying to do this while in the middle of a global pandemic. But it is an important first step, to getting me time during this quarantine and even beyond.
"Putting yourself first is not putting your children or your house last. It’s simply reprioritizing things a bit. "
I am not going to sit here and act like it’s that simple, because I know better. I’ve been here, and it was a struggle. A daily battle of me fighting off the mom guilt, the shame of feeling like I’m not putting my kids first or some other negative thought that may come my way. It takes motivation and determination to switch those thoughts. But in the end it’s worth it. Me time, self care, mommy time, whatever you name it. Doing it, and doing lots of it during quarantine will allow you to feel refreshed, re-energized and ready for more fun times with the kiddos.
One thing that has helped me was telling my partner. This helped in two fold. Speaking out loud that I wanted to make myself a priority and also wanted his help to make it happen helped me hold myself accountable. Talking about it, hearing my own voice made it more real. On top of that, having my husband’s support and what I’ll call gentle reminders kept me accountable.
Setting Boundaries And Expectations For Your Children During Quarantine Creates Space For Me Time
If this is new for you, understand it’s just as new for your children. They are used to having twenty four seven access to mommy. No matter what you’re doing. Which means two things for you; you’ll have to set boundaries and teach your children some new expectations. It will also mean some difficult conversations for yourself and your kiddos.
To make things easier, start getting me time during this quarantine in smaller time frames. Begin with five minutes a day at first and even if that doesn’t seem like a lot of time, there are many things you can get done. Stepping outside just to enjoy the air alone, saying a quick prayer, enjoying the quiet, or even eating a snack without having to share. All things, that as a mother I am sure we can all appreciate. So how do you start?
If your kids are old enough explain self care to them. It is just as healthy for them to get some me time during quarantine.
I often use examples from their everyday life. For my oldest, there are moments throughout the day when he wants to be alone. He’ll go in his room and shut the door so he can play legos in peace. For my daughter, she often asks if she can do my hair, or paint my nails. Mostly because she wants to one on one time. When I do this it’s much easier for them to see why I need my own personal time.
In the beginning just explaining it wasn’t enough. I had to lock my door or hide in a closet, because well they’re kids. They forget easily. I started reminding them each day at the same time that I would need to be alone for a few moments. Like I mentioned above I began with five minute intervals and slowly increased as they got more adjusted.
To help keep them entertained during this time I would give them specific things to do. From cleaning their room, reading a book to watching Elmo for a while. I would try to change it up a bit from day to day and also try not to use cleaning too much. I didn’t want them to feel like my me time meant their punishment.
Taking Control Over Your Time During Quarantine Makes Finding Ways For Alone Time Easier
If you’re anything like me you’re probably saying to yourself, okay this sounds good but when will I have the time? The funny thing is, we often find time for the things we deem important. Hence why my first tip was making yourself a priority.
Once you’ve decided you are important and therefore deserve or better yet NEED some me time for self care, coming up with ways to achieve it becomes that much easier. This isn’t to say time will just magically increase or appear for you, but it will decrease your guilt / shame allowing you to freely make the necessary time.
“So how can you find the time for self care?” For me personally, waking up before everyone else has been a life changer. I originally started out with getting up 10 to 15 minutes before my youngest and even that short amount of time impacted my day greatly. I have since increased to waking up roughly an hour before everyone else in my house and I couldn’t be happier.
Waking up before everyone else does two things; it allows me to focus on myself with less feelings of guilt because well, no one is awake. Therefore I’m not neglecting anyone. And secondly it’s helped me have uninterrupted time that has helped me figure out just what works best for me when it comes to self care. Because I am sure you may also experience, at first I had no idea what to do with myself.
If you aren’t a huge morning person, setting an alarm (something that will actually get you out of the bed) may help. Another idea would be to give yourself an incentive.
Think about drinking a nice hot of coffee alone, IN THE QUIET!
Or even being able to finish that book (or show) you’ve wanted to watch without getting a thousand questions. Whatever will motivate you, use that, and enjoy your alone time. It’s well deserved. But let’s say you just can’t see yourself getting out of the bed that early. Not a problem, try after the kids are asleep.
Depending on the way your household is run, this may or may not be doable. In my home all of my kiddos are in bed by 8:30pm (I won’t pretend like they are asleep by then). This gives me ample time to refresh and recharge for the next day without staying up super late. Do what works for you and tweak as needed. And don’t be afraid delegate, delegate, delegate. There are some things that can be done by the kids, your partner or can just wait until tomorrow.
With everything in life and especially in motherhood, these are solely suggestions. Do what works for you and leave what doesn’t. The main focus here is to provide tips that can be used to see some real results in a wide range of situations. Whether you’ve been struggling with mom guilt and wanting to have some alone time, or haven’t quite figured out how to come up with the time for yourself, I hope these tips help you. Me time during a quarantine or otherwise is the goal.
As easy as it is for our male counterparts to achieve it each day, we need to take that same approach. I know for my husband not a day goes by that he doesn’t take twenty to thirty minutes to himself, with no qualms at all. There is absolutely nothing wrong with needing a break. Nothing wrong with wanting some quiet, and nothing wrong with wanting to drink a hot cup of coffee the first time its made. You deserve it.