How make time for yourself when you’re a Mum

**The first version of this post was written on February 7, 2013. Our first son was one. A lot has changed now that I have 3 boys in tow, but the message of this post is still important. I’ve updated it with all the things I’ve learnt along the way.**

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Which is great if you actually, you know, live in a village. The rest of us are all struggling to find time to go the toilet alone, let alone do something for ourselves.

I know it can be hard to organise, but having time for yourself when you’re a Mum is essential. When I’m not getting enough time for myself it’s easy to tell. I feel resentful and angry towards Andrew. I’m snappy and irritable. It literally feels like my skin is crawling and I don’t want to be touched. And if one more person asks me for something I think I might just explode….!

Of course, your signs might be entirely different to mine. Maybe you cope by turning inwards and becoming quiet and withdrawn. Or maybe it shows up for you as bone-numbing exhaustion. Start paying attention to your signs – so you can start giving yourself time out before you hit burn out.

The amount of time you’ll need to take to feel like yourself again is different for everyone. It depends on a whole range of things including:

  • how long it’s been since you last took time for yourself
  • how regularly you take time for yourself
  • how long you take each time
  • how old your kids are
  • how full on your life is outside of mothering (are you also working?, do you have a supportive partner, does your partner work away, etc).
time for yourself

How to make time for yourself when you’re a Mum (without paying for childcare).

The Kid Swap.

What is it? – You take a friend’s kid/s for a few hours one day, they take yours the next.

How it’s worked for us. A friend of ours is a work-at-home Dad with two boys. Once a week, I take his two boys for the afternoon, then he takes Eamon on the following day. We swap after nap time, so no one has to worry about getting little ones to nap. The day you have all the kids no stress at all. In fact its actually more fun – I find it’s always easier looking after more kids than less! They entertain each other instead of looking to you for entertainment.

So far this plan is working brilliantly. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed my two hours to myself today.  I got all my orders for this week finished and even managed to have a shower (without having to share it with a little person!)

Lock the door.

Look I know this sounds obvious, but how often do we not even shut the door because we know they’ll be trying to open it in five minutes anyway? I do this all the time and then I wonder why I have no boundaries. If you can’t get time out of the house, perhaps you can settle for half an hour in the bath with the door locked.

Of course, if your littles are still babies or toddlers, you’ll need another adult in the house to take over while you take some time out. While you shouldn’t have to ask for it, I’ve always found it helps if you clearly spell it out for them. Say – “I am taking a bath. I’m locking the door. Please keep the baby / crying toddler / child away so I can have some time to myself.”

Never assume they’ll just predict that you need time for yourself – or you’ll end up having to drag your wet arse out of the bath to attend the hysterical child at the door!

Swap babysitting duties.

What is it? – While your partner stays home with your baby/kids, you watch your friend’s little one at their place (works best if they’re already in bed so all you really have to do is watch trashy tv and keep an ear out if they wake.) Next week, the roles swap so each couple gets a kid-free night with no expense!

You don’t realize how important having time with your partner is until you have a baby. All of a sudden everything is about the kid. You probably can’t even remember the last time you had a conversation that wasn’t about bodily functions, the lack of sleep or the latest funny thing they did. While a date night is not technically “time to yourself”, it’s super important to prioritise, especially if you’re starting to feel resentful towards your partner.

Hiring a random babysiter for a date night, especially when your baby is little, can feel overwhelming. Not all of us are lucky enough to have family close by either. This is why the babysitting swap is so great. No one is out of pocket or asking for favours, and you also get a little bit of time to yourself as well when you’re the babysitter.

Stop wasting bedtime / nap time

You spend all day dreaming about all the things you’re going to do once your kids are in bed. Yet when bedtime actually arrives you feel overwhelmed by all the possibilities and instead doom scroll on socials instead. Sound familiar?

Yep, this is my downfall as well. I have so many things I want to do, that I end up putting so much pressure on the time I do have to myself – and ironically end up wasting it.

If nap-time and bedtime is all the time to yourself you can manage, find a way to use it to make the most of it!

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by all the options, try making lists of what you’d like to do and organise them based on how long it will take you to complete. For example – 15 minutes: do a yoga class, read a chapter of your favourite book, take a power nap, journal your thoughts, etc. This is especially helpful if you have a cat-napper and find yourself not starting anything because you’re constantly waiting for them to wake up.

Honestly though – it doesn’t matter HOW you get time for yourself, it’s just essential that you DO. How are you going to spend your time for yourself?

10 Responses to “How make time for yourself when you’re a Mum

  • Great idea! I think having the other kids around can be easier because your little one has someone to play with and isn’t as dependent on mama to occupy them.

  • Great ideas! Unfortunately, I have no friends with kids, but we decided that on Sundays, that my mother has her day off, me and my husband are going out of the house for a couple of hours. This happens while Nereus is napping, so my mother can do whatever she wants in the meantime. It’s working for now!

  • That sounds like a great idea. Unfortunately we don’t have close enough friends that I would consider doing this, but I do have parents who actually ask to have the kids sometimes!

  • Great ideas!
    I especially like the baby sitting swap.
    A night not in your own is as good as a night out…sitting on someone else’s couch you can’t think about the laundry that needs doing or the fact that the dishes haven’t been done!
    And I totally agree that more couple time is so necessary but so hard to come by!
    Sounds like you have a great village!
    Enjoy your baby free time!

  • Time out is so important, but it’s easy to get bogged down in the day to day and forget about yourself. Seem great ideas, our neighbors are also our close friends. We help each other out tons and it’s such a blessing.

  • dropped in from the followers to friends blog hop, now following on GFC, see you back on my blog 🙂

  • I love these ideas, Bettina!

    Just thinking about how I can implement them now…would have been easier when I only had one little person!

    • Bettina Rae
      11 years ago

      Thanks Angie! Yep it makes it a bit harder, maybe you have friends with more than one also? But don’t discount those with only one. I take two for one, it really isn’t that much harder and still gives me a break.

  • What a great idea. Both the kid swap and babysitting swap. I need to do this more, I feel like I am either at work or at home wrangling kids, never ever out by myself or with husband or home alone! I go crazy…

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