We all know that taking the time to commit to self care is important. Tending to your needs before serving others – frequently called “The Oxygen Mask Rule” – is familiar to most adults. And while we know that carving out ‘me time’ to care for yourself is important, it’s easier said than done, isn’t it? Particularly when you have a baby in the house!
Let’s be real here: the pressure on parents in this day and age is unreal. It comes from all sides, even from within ourselves. Add to that the expectations of family, friends, and our children…well, it’s clear that we need a break from the chaos to have some sense of balance and normalcy.
Unfortunately, new parents – especially those doing it for the first time – are usually way too caught up in the moment that they barely have a moment to eat or sleep, let alone find some time alone! However, I’d argue that taking a few moments every day for yourself is as vital to your existence as breathing and eating. ‘Me time’ is not a luxury – it is a necessity!
With that in mind, I’ll share a few ways that I’ve found to carve out some ‘me time’ after having a baby.
What is ‘me time’?
When I say ‘me time’, I’m referring to some amount of time where you are able to focus completely on caring for you. It’s moments where you don’t have to focus on your family – yes, even your baby. It is time dedicated to nurturing yourself in some way – whether mind, body, or soul.
This solo time means something different for everyone. Some need a structured activity to fill their alone time. Others are happy to just have a few minutes of solitude, no activity needed.
No matter your preference, keep in mind that it doesn’t matter how you spend your ‘me time’. What matters is that you do it!
Why is ‘me time’ so important?
Look, I totally get why you need a bit of convincing before you start to prioritise your ‘me time’. I personally struggle with justifying my time alone, particularly when my kiddos were babies. So here are a few reasons you need time to yourself:
1. To recharge
First and foremost, the reason you need time to yourself is to recharge. We give a lot of ourselves to our kids, particularly when they’re helpless little babies. And that’s okay, it’s part of the job! But we can’t be expected to perform our best if we’re running out of juice.
Parental burnout is a real thing, so using alone time to recharge yourself is hugely beneficial. Even if all you do in your time alone is stare at a wall (totally underrated activity, btw), at least you’re taking yourself away from the chaos of life to simply recharge.
2. To practice self-care
Self-care has become something of a trendy concept, but it really is something we should all be doing anyway. There are obvious things like healthy eating, exercise, and meditation. But then there are other small moments like putting on a face mask or crafting.
Anything you do to nurture your mind, body, and soul, is self-care. All are a wonderful use of your solo time.
3. To set boundaries
Too often, mums feel guilty for taking time to themselves. I, for one, felt that it was selfish! But the truth is, mothers compromise our own needs and desires because we feel it is less important than our children or partner’s needs and desires. And believe me when I say that even the nicest people would be tempted to take advantage of this!
So commit to your ‘me time’ to remind yourself and others of your boundaries. Trust me, it’s a healthy thing for everyone involved.
4. To reflect
When you’re caught up in the nitty-gritty of everyday life, you might find yourselves stuck in bad habits that can affect you in the long run. Unfortunately, it is really difficult or, for some of us, totally impossible, to reflect on yourself and your goals when you don’t have the freedom to do it.
Your time alone is an opportunity to reflect upon your individual journey, and identify any blocks along your path. This reflection is a key first step in re-alignment, and developing good habits that are in line with your life goals. Whether it’s your physical, mental, or emotional health, you need that time alone to reflect on where you are and what comes next.
5. To be a better parent
“Put your oxygen mask on first, before assisting those under your care.”
There’s a reason the Oxygen Mask Rule is a thing. The whole point of it is this: you can’t fulfill your duties to those under your care if you’re struggling to breath!
Taking some ‘me time’ allows you to recenter yourself in a way that you simply cannot do with a baby and/or other children around to distract you. This, in turn, lets you react to challenging situations with more grace and patience than you would otherwise.
6. To set a good example to your kids
Yes, we’re discussing how to find solo time with a baby in the house, but that baby is inevitably going to get older, and that’s when you’ll find yourself being able to role model some healthy habits that they can adopt into their lives!
In a world where pointless busy-ness and societal pressure has been shown to negatively impact even young kids, showing them how to take time to nourish themselves can help them deal with these stressors in a healthy way.
How to carve out some ‘me time’ after having a baby
So you know you need alone time by now, but how on earth will you actually find the time to do it within the endless cycle of diaper changes, feeding sessions, and mastering the art of swaddling?
Well, I’m going to share some tried and true tips on how you can carve out that coveted ‘me time’ with a baby in the house. Once you put these steps into action, you’d be surprised by how easy it can be to achieve what you thought was impossible – quality ‘me time’ with a baby in the house!
1. Prioritise your ‘me time’
I know this one seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how strong the instinct is to sacrifice all your needs completely when you have a baby. ‘Mum guilt’ is a real thing! When you’re operating from this mindset, self-care is quickly dismissed because it’s selfish.
Here’s the truth: when you give time to yourself, you’re gifting your baby with a calm, patient, and centered mum who’ll be better able to tackle all the challenges of motherhood with grace and empathy. A good way to shift your mindset and start to prioritise your alone time, is to think of how it benefits your baby. Give your baby the healthy, happy mum your baby deserves!
2. Follow baby’s routines
Routines are so good for babies, and they happen to work well for you too! Routines help small babies establish a healthy sleep-wake rhythm and cultivate a sense of security through the predictability of their day. They also allow you to have somewhat anticipate when you’ll have a few minutes to dedicate to yourself.
Obviously, it’s not an exact science. Your baby will have days when they simply don’t take that morning nap they usually do, or suddenly lose interest in the toy that they played with for half an hour the day before. That’s okay! Be flexible and forgive yourself (and your baby!) if this happens, and just try again the next nap or the next day.
3. Set realistic expectations
Look, when you’ve got a three-day-old baby at home, and you’re operating on 3 hours of sleep, and you smell like baby vomit, and what is that yellow stain on your face?!…This is maybe not the best time to settle down for an hour-long bath alone. The good news is, you’ll eventually get to the point where that is more realistic. The bad news is, that moment is not now.
So here’s what you can do instead: Build up to it. Start small – just 5 minutes of ‘me time’ to take a hot shower, a quick DIY facial, repeating positive affirmations, or even a bit of mindful breathing can do wonders. Plus, you’ll avoid the frustration of only being able to do things halfway. If you plan on just 5 minutes and get 15 instead, it becomes a pleasant surprise!
4. Create a list of your favourite alone time activities
Imagine this: you finally got your baby down for a nap, and you know you’ll get at least half an hour to yourself, and you’re so excited! But then you spend 10 minutes thinking of what exactly you want to do, another 10 minutes looking for the supplies or instructions on how to do it, and then check Instagram just for a bit…and then all of a sudden, you hear your baby is stirring and your chance is gone.
Believe me, the above is a completely true story!
That’s why I recommend you create a list of your all-time favourite solo activities. When you’ve got this list, you will be able to quickly choose one of these ideas when you get a few minutes to yourself and avoid being distracted by things like chores or social media. Start off with a list of 5 favourite self-care activities, and arrange them by duration.
It’s been found that multitasking actually makes you less productive, but your alone time isn’t really about being productive. It’s about maximising the pleasure that you gain from the few minutes you get to yourself. When you think about it this way, you can figure out ways to do more than one thing in your solo time that brings you joy!
For example, when my babies were little, I took great pleasure in doing a DIY facial while listening to my favourite music. Other ideas you could try: paint your nails and (carefully) play some video games while the nail polish dries, or eat your favourite ice cream while watching a saucy new show on Netflix. Whether you’ve got 5 minutes, or 2 hours (lucky!), there are so many activities you can combine to make every second count!
Here’s another tip related to multitasking: while this isn’t pure alone time, babywearing can free up your hands so you can actually get some self-care in. A pretty neat compromise, if you ask me!
6. Ask for help
If you want to get a bit more of an extended alone time and you know someone who would be happy to help with the baby, then ask! Ideally, this would be your partner. But there are many situations where that can’t happen, so a relative, friend, or neighbour who can spare the time could be the one to do it instead.
Asking for help can be a challenge in itself – I, for one, still struggle with it – but when you start thinking of your time alone as a wellness issue, and prioritise it, it does get easier to justify it to yourself. If the thought of allowing someone to watch your baby in your home is giving you anxiety, please consider that it may be a symptom of a deeper issue that should be addressed (again, I’m speaking from experience).
7. Get your self-care fix at home
There are certain things – like a professional massage, mani-pedi, or a hair cut/colour that should be left to professionals. But that doesn’t mean you get to miss out on them when you have a small baby and don’t plan on leaving them at home. Sure, you could totally bring them along, but wouldn’t it be more relaxing to have the professionals come to you instead?
First of all, this is totally possible! I know this for sure, because I’ve done it plenty of times. Secondly, it’s more affordable than you think. I’ve had massages, nail appointments, and even a hair cut and colour at home. This gave me the freedom to enjoy these precious moments knowing my baby was only a few meters away. As long as someone you trust is watching the baby just outside the door, this can be a surprisingly pleasant compromise!
It’s time to put yourself first
Fellow mums, for too long we have been guilt-tripping ourselves for wanting something as simple as time alone. But solitude is important for us to take the time to recharge, particularly in our increasingly interconnected world. You owe it to yourself to consistently nurture and nourish your mind, body, and soul with some alone time.
These moments dedicated to caring for yourself is rewarding in ways that you won’t even realise till you do it! You’ll come out of it happier, healthier, and better able to handle what life throws at you. So do yourself a favour and get that ‘me time’!
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