Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” – Lao Tzu

Does any of this sound familiar? Your house is so messy that you liked using Covid as an excuse not to let anyone in. There’s no food in the refrigerator that isn’t expired and something in there smells. You can’t get to the bathroom without tripping over toys or dog bones. You’ve spent the past year helping your children with their virtual learning AND you have a job.

How could you even think about taking time for yourself? Isn’t that selfish?
Actually, it’s not. Did you ever think about why they tell you when you fly on an airplane to put your own oxygen mask on first? It’s because you won’t survive long enough to help your loved ones if you don’t.

Do you feel guilty taking time for yourself? Do you wish you could get more sleep, exercise, meditate or spend time on a creative passion that feeds your soul?

Instead of viewing the time you take as selfish, think of it as showing your children the importance of self care, which is connected to health and happiness.

Here are 10 ways to take that first step and find more time for yourself:

  1. Start small. Take 15 minutes (or 5 if that’s all you have) and go to sleep earlier, meditate or do a few quick exercises or yoga poses.
  2. Make your kids part of the solution. If you’re trying to get more exercise into your day, find things that you can do with your kids like biking, jumping rope or “pretending” that you are taking a gym class together at school.
  3. Ruthlessly eliminate time wasters from your day. Can you spend 15 minutes less on social media and use the time to write or draw or just be creative?
  4. Redefine your expectations of yourself. Are you wasting time being “perfect” at something when good enough truly is good enough? For example, if you were a little bit less of a perfectionist at work, could you fit some time in your day to meditate?
  5. Get creative about how to get things done. Can family members help more with the chores? Could you have a contest for your kids to see who can put their laundry away the fastest? If you don’t have time to read, can you get an audio book and listen to it while you cook dinner?
  6. Let go of control. Are you trying to do everything yourself because you don’t think anyone else can do it as well? If you let others help you, how could that affect your life and the time you have for yourself?
  7. Schedule it. If you really want to get something done, put it on your calendar and let your family know what you’ll be doing and when. Perhaps you only have one hour a month to pursue your passion. Instead of being discouraged, think of it as a baby step.
  8. Ask for help. Talk to your spouse or other people in your life about how they might help, so that you can take better care of yourself. Maybe your spouse wants to work out too and you can come up with a schedule and take turns watching your children.
  9. Think of it as medicine. If your doctor told you that you had to take medicine for your health would you say that you didn’t have time? Think of exercising, meditating, getting sleep or whatever it is you need as medicine for your soul.
  10. Ask yourself what’s really important. In five years from now will your kids remember that the house was clean or the fun times you had as a family? Focus on what you care about most.

Don’t forget that whatever you’re dealing with won’t last forever, even if it feels that way. One day your kids will grow up and you might actually be wondering what to do with all of your free time.