Mothers of Younger Children Desperately Want Time to Themselves. Right here’s How you can Truly Make It Occur
As the pandemic upbringing drags on, mothers are more than overwhelmed. Do the impossible; Day after day as only we can.
In a real experiment, working parents were interrupted 45 times by their children within three hours. In another video, a mother counted 27 interruptions from her children in just 10 minutes. No wonder we are at our limit.
As we go through this new school year, it is even more important for us to consciously take time for ourselves. Forget the old adage “You can’t pour from an empty cup”. This implies that we should just fill our cups to pour into others. We need to focus on filling ourselves to the point of overflow. While we all know that balance is a myth, it is possible to have more time for yourself with a change in mindset and a few simple strategies.
Adopt the idea of ”perfectly imperfect”.
In the age of Pinterest craftsmanship and the flawless Instagram feed, mothers are constantly bombarded with unreachable points of comparison. It is time to let go of this idea of perfection. Understand that what we see online is simply a curated, tiny snapshot of someone else’s life.
Children don’t need perfection. You need authenticity, love, and encouragement. Focus on engaging with your children on a daily basis and moving away from social media if you feel it is having a negative impact on your mental health. This simple change in mindset may not give you physical time back, but it does give you mental space to focus on other strategies that become like these:
Promotion of independence: children are more capable than we give them credit for.
One way to have more time for yourself is to encourage your children to be more independent. This can be a difficult transition, especially for parents who are used to meddling and doing things for their children because it’s faster and easier – especially over the past two years where we’ve had so much time together. But letting go of perfection enables us to give our children more responsibility.
Children are more capable than we think them to be, and when you allow them to do more for themselves, you naturally have more time for themselves. Think about small ways in which you can relinquish control and allow your children to take the lead. It may take some front loading to teach them to pack their own lunch or fold their own clothes, but the time savings will be well worth it in the end.
Make yourself comfortable giving your children time and space.
One of the easiest ways to gain more time for yourself is to give your children time and space. Establish a game room to encourage independent gaming. Make sure you provide access to open ended toys and store them where they can be accessed. Send them to the back yard to play without you if it’s safe to do so, or set up a quiet activity area that is out of sight.
Giving children time and space without them playing in the room is an easy way to encourage creativity, problem solving, and independence. Parents often feel they need to be a constant source of entertainment and encouragement for their children, but research shows that over-education is not really good for the children’s development.
Think about it. If children have no way of finding out for themselves now, how will they ever become? Let go of the guilt and know that when you are doing less, you are actually doing more.
Allow time to bond with your children – and time to break up with them.
Always being “on” is not sustainable; especially now with the increased demands on parenthood, which tend to fall disproportionately on mothers. It is important to plan blocks of time in which you can really devote yourself to connecting with your children. Think about your family plan and see where you have a good half to an hour to really get used to it. Maybe it is before bed while reading books and discussing the day.
Or, if you’re too tired at night to really connect, focus on a morning routine that gives you time to connect with your kids. Try yoga together in the morning, a short walk with the family, or just have breakfast at the table with no electronics before the day starts.
Then do the same thing to completely disconnect from your children. Block time for yourself. Time for dinner with a friend, a jog, a manicure – whatever makes you feel full. And don’t feel guilty about it. Make sure your family knows that you are making time for yourself; Tell them specifically and explain why it is important. Children internalize everything, so it is important for them that their mothers take care of their own needs.
Alanna Gallo is a former teacher and mother of four young children. She is the founder of Play. To learn. Thrive. and hosts a weekly podcast designed to empower parents to raise confident and independent children. Follow her on Instagram or sign up for her FREE 5-Day Playroom Makeover Challenge.