Have you ever wanted to do something for you, something time consuming, like a new hobby, business or degree? Maybe you want to start that blog you’ve always wanted to start, or maybe you’ve spent years kicking around an idea for a novel. I bet you may be thinking, how could I possibly find the time to do something like that between the kids, the house, etc, etc, etc? I’m here to tell you that it is possible! You can learn how to make more time for yourself.
When my daughter was two, I finished my 175-page doctoral dissertation and got my degree. Was it easy? Oh hell no. But, it was an enormous goal of mine, and I held onto it like a dog with a bone. I didn’t give up on my dream and neither should you. You need to pursue what you’re passionate about: it fills you up and enables you to be the best mom you can be. Here are my tips for pursuing your goals:
Identify What’s Holding You Back
Maybe you’ve wanted to start a blog or an online business for a long time now. Maybe you read a mommy blog and think, “Hey, I can totally do that!” Or, “Hey! this lady just bought a $5 million townhouse in Brooklyn just from blogging!” Maybe you’ve spent years reading the content these bloggers put out and think you can do it.
Have you ever stopped to consider why you don’t bite the bullet and actually do it?
It’s possible you have an invisible script holding you back. Invisible scripts are the things you constantly say to yourself that prevent you from moving forward in your life. We all have them. For me, I realized that I needed to abandon my invisible script that said: “I don’t have time to work on a business. I’m too busy taking care of my kids and when I do have time for myself I need to sleep/eat a hot meal/go to the bathroom without tiny people following me in.”
Ditch the Mommy Guilt
I know, I know—this is easier said than done. But, I am a firm believer that a happy, fulfilled mom is a better mom than a martyr mom. And, isn’t that what we all want? To be better moms? Ever heard the expression, “Happy wife, happy life”? Well, the same is true for moms. If you’re happy, your kids are going to follow suit. If you’re burnt out, resentful, or bitter…guess what? You don’t want to go there.
Spending some time every week working on something that uplifts you will make you a better mother. Read more about that here.
Make the Most of Nap Time
In my opinion, a nap is a gift from god (or whomever you deem to be your higher power). Do not squander this generous, beautiful time by scrolling through Facebook or cleaning your bathroom. If you want to get something done for yourself, something that requires your full concentration, this is the best time to do it. Make a to-do list for each day so you are clear about what you want to get done. This is sacred time, so don’t answer the phone if it rings. Don’t even respond to emails or texts. Just focus on your task.
I find that it’s helpful to have a ritual to make it more pleasant. I always brew myself a nice cup of my favorite blueberry coffee before sitting down to work. Maybe you’re a tea drinker, maybe you want to put on your favorite music. Me? I like to work from my comfy couch, complete with warm, fuzzy blanket. Little things like this help to banish the procrastination monsters that try to pull you from your task at hand.
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Take some stock in how you spend your time right now. I mean it. For the rest of the day today, I want you to actually make a note of where your time goes. If you’re at home with small children, I know it feels like it vaporizes, but if you slow down for a second and actually pay attention, you’re going to realize that’s not the case. I challenge you to actually write down the activities you do throughout the day. And, yes, I realize that you will be writing things like, “wiped poop.” But, you may also find yourself writing things like, “went on Facebook for 33 minutes while the baby napped.” Or, “Googled teething remedies and ended up clicking on an ad and shopping for red stiletto boots I can’t afford nor wear to pick my kid up from the bus (which is the only place I go some days).”
Consider how much time you spend on your phone or down a Netflix hole or an internet deep dive. I realize that sometimes this is time well-spent. But, many times, it’s not. When you have free time, you should try to fill it doing something that lifts you up and inspires you. If there’s a project you want to conquer, then this is it. How much of that 33 minutes on Facebook is inspiring? Sure, you may have started by clicking on photos of your second cousin’s new baby. That’s uplifting, yes. But, how were those last 32 minutes spent? How did you feel when you were scrolling through? Chances are you weren’t uplifted at all.
You can download the printable below to record how your time was spent during the day. Use it to jot down how you actually spend your time and how you would ideally spend your time. This is the first step to becoming more productive.
Take Stock of Your Time
At the end of your challenge day, take stock of the day’s activities. What filled you up? Did anything? What did you end up doing when you had free time (even if it was only 10 minutes)? Did that activity make you feel good?
Of course, there is plenty on there that you can’t give up. You have to give your kids lunch. But, I’m willing to be that there are a few things on there that are unnecessary—and weighing you down without you knowing it.
Choose What Fills You Up
The next step is to decide how you want to fill those minutes spent in the void. Really give yourself time to mull this over: what would make you feel best? When you identify it, actually plan for it. And, when I say actually plan for it, I mean, write it down in your planner. Just like any other appointment you make, make an appointment with yourself. Even if you only have about 10 minutes, decide what you can do with it.
I recently spoke with the short story writer (not the designer) Mark Jacobs, who said that he did a lot of his writing in 10 minute bursts while he was waiting to pick his kids up from soccer practice or waiting in the pediatrician’s office. He’s published over 30 short stories. What are you doing with these little bits of time?
Take Advantage of the Morning or Evening
I have to admit, I’m personally not a huge advocate of this. My kids are still small and get up once and while during the night, so I prefer not to set my alarm in the morning. I also like to relax in the evening. That being said, you may feel totally different about these times of day. I know plenty of mothers who are very productive in the morning before their kids get up. You may want to set your alarm and have an hour or two to yourself. Or, maybe you’re a night owl and you’d like to get a little work done after the kids are in bed. These are both good, quiet times if you’re so inclined. If you’re not, though…
Consider Child Care Options
If you are pursing a career goal, it may make sense to hire a babysitter for a short amount of time every week. At the end of my dissertation process, it became clear that the two-hours of nap time were not enough to complete my goal by the due date. I hired a babysitter to come for a few hours every week and that made all the difference in the world. I used the same rules as nap time: make a to-do list and stick to it.
It’s not easy for moms to make time for themselves, but I’m here to tell you that you must. If you want to raise happy, well-adjusted kids, you have to be happy and well-adjusted yourself. If there’s something you’ve been wanting to do, chances are you might be a little (or a lot) resentful of that. Maybe you don’t even realize it, but resentment is a pretty big obstacle to your happiness. Or, maybe you don’t resent it, but pursuing a creative passion will help you find your bliss. Then, you need to do it. Not sure of what your passion might be? Download my system below to finding your bliss and finding time to pursue it.