Your days are filled. You have countless chores, errands, and care-giving to attend to constantly. You’re a stay-at-home mom. It’s your job. That’s why this is going to rock your world. It’s the hard truth about carving out me time.
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Carving literally means to cut, whether that be to shape, design, or mold. Here’s the hard truth about carving out me time: It means cutting something else from your day.
When your days are already filled to capacity, making time for yourself inevitably means something else has to go. Luckily, you are the designer of your life so you get to choose where to make cuts.
I recently had a conversation with my 9 year old son that totally rocked my world. I made the comment that I didn’t stop at the book store while we were out because he wasn’t feeling well. He then turned to me and said, “You could have gone. I would have dealt with it so you could look at books.”
This led us down a path of discussion about how important it is to take care of yourself before trying to take care of others. I tried using the example that if you consistently put others ahead of yourself, the depletion of your own health and wellness could ultimately lead to getting very sick or even death. His response chilled me:
“Yeah, but you would die being a good person and caring about other people.”
Let that sink in. My son thought that dying to take care of others is noble, even something to aspire to. Do you know why? He believes that because it is exactly what I have modeled for him his entire life. When he sees me giving everything I have everyday and not taking time for me, he believes that is the correct way to live.
Simple Analogy for Self Care
After I picked my jaw off of the floor, I explained to him that I hadn’t been a very good role model. I tried explaining the specific ways in which I’m attempting to be better but he still wasn’t quite getting it. 9 years of internal foundations isn’t easy to let go of. That’s when I switched tactics.
We are both incredibly frugal and financially minded. I used this to my advantage with this example:
- Say that you have $800 in your bank account and that is all you have. Your mortgage of $800 is due right now. On the way to the bank to pay it, you meet a charitable organization that says they are $800 away from being able to feed all of the homeless children. Would you pay your mortgage and keep a roof over your family or give the money away to the charity?
Admittedly, that’s an incredibly noble cause. All of the homeless children getting a meal, right? However, do you condemn your own family to do it?
This made sense to him and he immediately agreed that he would pay his mortgage, then figure out another way to help the homeless children.
What Are You Modeling
The quickest way to make a mom open up her eyes is to show her the harmful lessons her children are learning. Are you teaching your children the same that I was? Self-sacrificing everything for your family, friends, and community seems like the “right” thing to do. But when you turn that mirror around and see your children valuing the health and happiness of all other above their own, we can see the true detriment of it.
Luckily, your children still have you making sure that their needs are met on a daily basis. But what happens when they fly the nest and no longer have that? They are going to choose friends and partners that consistently take their energy and their time. These friends and partners may not even start out selfishly taking without giving in return, but your children will train them that it’s okay to treat them that way.
Is that the life you want for your kids? It certainly isn’t what I want for mine.
Carving Out Me Time
To reverse this belief, let your kids see you making your health and well-being a priority on a regular basis. It can be as little as getting up 15 minutes earlier to enjoy a cup of coffee in peace. You can also choose to read a book after dinner alone in your room for 20 minutes while they play.
Yes, in the first example you are carving out some of your sleep time and in the second it might mean staying up later to clean up. That’s where “carving out” comes into play. Something has to go to make room for your self care.
Here’s the best part, though. As you continue to do this, it gets easier. You will be more mindful about scheduling your time and your days to accommodate these small rituals. It is only hard in the interim because you are establishing new routines. More importantly, you are teaching your children the importance of taking care of their health and well-being.
Now that you know the hard truth about carving out me time, take solace in the knowledge that it is temporary. Once you get the hang of your small changes, it gets easier and you will also get better at it. Later I will talk about more specific and drastic ways to get your free time back as a SAHM but it all starts with these small steps now.
If you haven’t had the overt conversation with your kids about self-care and how it doesn’t make them selfish, do so. You may be surprised to find how much of your actions they have internalized to their own life blueprint. Then, let them know and, more importantly, see you taking action to improve in this facet of life.
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