Finding Time For Yourself (When You Don’t Have Time to Breathe)

As busy moms, we all know that it can be hard to find 2 minutes of peace in your day. But finding time for ourselves is essential. We can’t be the best parent, friend, homeschooler, or even just plain healthy, if we don’t take care of ourselves. So how do you find the time for self care, in the middle of the chaos of parenting, homeschooling, housekeeping, and all the other things you do?

I know how hard it is to find the time for yourself when you don’t have time to breathe.

Some days, it’s just too overwhelming. Other days, I can feel like I’ve got it all under control. That usually only lasts until the next diaper blowout or meltdown. But I’ve also learned how to take care of myself, so that I can continue to take the best care of my family. 

As a single mom, I’ve had to get creative about finding the time. So here are all the tricks I use to find the time to take care of myself in the middle of the chaos that is my life. 

If you don’t have the time to catch your breath, here’s a hint: you have to make it a priority. So start by taking two minutes to grab a drink of water and read this post. I promise you, you’ll learn something. 

And take a moment to breathe. 

We all know that taking care of ourselves is important.

There are lots of things you can do to take care of yourself, but when do you find the time for self care?  Whether you’re a working mom, a stay-at-home mom, or a work-at-home mom like me, we’re all busy. Life seems busier than ever. I often wonder how my grandmother managed, without an electric washing machine and cloth diapers. She seemed to manage just fine, but I can’t seem to find the time to shower without staying up past midnight.

So how do you find time for yourself when you don’t have time to breathe? As a single, work-at-home mom of 6, here’s what I’ve learned.

1. Schedule it

Finding the time for anything you want to do means you have to put it on the calendar. It just doesn’t happen on it’s own. You aren’t going to accidentally discover an hour between picking up groceries and taking the kids to swimming. And waiting until after everything else is done is impossible — since some things never truly get “done”.

You have to prioritize time for yourself in your routines. Maybe that means that you’ll schedule that massage you’ve been meaning to for weeks, and take that hour for yourself. Or maybe that means you have to say no to something else in order to say yes to this. But it won’t happen all by itself, so make sure you set aside the time.

3. Take advantage of the small breaks.

I love multitasking as much as the next mother. And I’ve discovered little moments throughout my day where I can take two minutes for myself. I own the stereotype of the mom in the bathroom with her phone. That’s so me, and I’m not ashamed of it! Bathrooms have locks, and mine has a noisy fan, so I can’t hear the kids’ disaster-making, and I’m proud to enjoy my 5 minutes in peace.

There are small breaks throughout the day. Maybe its while you’re in line at the drive thru, bank, or checkout. Or while you’re waiting for the doctor’s appointment, or to pick up the kids from soccer.

In order to take advantage of these little moments, I carry certain tools with me. What do you like to do? I I’ll read on my kindle app on my phone or maybe journal in a small notebook I carry with me. Sometimes I’ll just play a Facebook game on my phone.  And sometimes I’ll put in my ear buds and play a white noise app, and put my head back for a few moments of relaxation.

4. Ask for help

Do you remember when you had a baby? Or when there was an illness in the family? People would ask you to let them know if there was anything they could do to help. Did you ask for the help? Probably not.

Here’s the thing. NO ONE WILL VOLUNTEER unless you ask. Ask and BE SPECIFIC. If you need help with cleaning, ask for help with one specific thing. For example, can you come over and clean out the gutters, rake the lawn, do my dishes, wash my floors, etc. You’d be amazed at what people are willing to do to help out, when they know you’re stressed.  But you do have to ask.

5. Pay for it.

There is no shame in paying for help! Just because you can do it doesn’t mean its the best use of your time. Consider what your time is worth!

One summer, when my kids were small, I paid my neighbours to mow my lawn. It wasn’t that I couldn’t, but that I had better things to do with my time. I pay for housecleaning on a regular basis. And I regularly trade playdates with friends, so that both they and I can have some time for self care.

You might think you can’t afford the help, but honestly, it doesn’t cost as much as you think. For $50-$60, you can get a house cleaner to come in for 2 hours. Imagine what you could get done in 2 hours! Yes, you may not get your entire home cleaned, but even if they just cleaned all your bathrooms, wouldn’t that help you out?

6. Use shortcuts to save time.

I love finding a faster way to do something. I use shortcuts all the time to save me time and money. For example, I spend a weekend every couple of months doing freezer cooking, and stocking my freezer with precooked meats, casseroles, and side dishes that only take reheating to serve. I will make a double batch whenever I cook spaghetti sauce and freeze half, because it’s so easy to turn it into chili, soup, or a casserole. I love slow cookers, and while I haven’t used it, Instant Pots are also an option to help with this.

I’ll also multitask. For example, when I’m helping my 5 year old with her bath, I’ll clean my bathroom.  I never leave a room without taking something with me to put away. And I fold laundry while listening to podcasts or videos for my business.

I also use the right tools to help save time. Why sweep when you can vacuum? I use a mobile calendar to keep track of both life and work events, and I menu plan to make grocery shopping and meal prep a breeze.

Sometimes finding the time for self care means using the right tools so there’s more room in your day.

Need a menu plan? Check out my Practically Painless Meal Planning System.

7. Be deliberate with your choices.

And sometimes finding time for self care means doing it on purpose. If you’ve always wanted to read that book, turn off the computer and pick up the book. If you’ve been meaning to write in that journal, put down the phone and pick up your pen. Make choices about what you do with your time.

We often get caught up in the urgent, mistaking it for the important. But unless it’s bleeding or on fire, it may not be as urgent as you think.  That phone call can wait thirty minutes while you indulge in an episode of your favorite show. And if you want to spend time writing on your blog, then turn off the social media, put the kids in front of the TV for an hour, and go write.

8. Set it up for success.

You want a self-pedicure? Make sure you buy the supplies, so you have them. You want that glass of wine at night? Chill your bottle in the morning!  When you go to take the time for yourself, plan for it.

Finding time for yourself takes planning.

Really, that’s all it takes. When you’re so busy that finding the time for yourself seems impossible, you have to plan for it. Schedule it, set it up, and take the time, deliberately. The only way you can find the time for yourself is to plan for it, and do it on purpose.

Also read: Self Care Solutions for the Stressed Out Mom

What do you do to take care of yourself?

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