This post is from contributor Stephanie Sears
I only have two kids at this point, and they are both under the age of 4. My husband travels often, and when he is in town he works a lot of long days. We have no family within 12 hours of our home in Georgia. Some days it can be tough to remember that I am a person outside of my role as mom.
It took me far too long to admit I needed to carve out more time for myself.
Even though I’ve been active in Junior League since before my oldest was born, I was doing the minimum amount to stay a member the first year of his life. Some out of necessity (nursing) and some because I had convinced myself a good mom would never leave her child more than she absolutely needed to during that first year.
My husband shoved me out of the house more than once to take 30 minutes to an hour for myself, because he wanted to make sure I stayed refreshed.
When I was 7 months pregnant with my second, I hired my first babysitter. My son was 20 months old. My husband had a last minute out-of-town work trip, and I had tickets to a preview day for a big event. After telling my husband I would just skip it (reluctantly), he told me to hire a babysitter. I did.
Guess what? Everyone was fine for those 3 hours I was out of the house.
That moment was a huge change for me. Until then we had never left our child with anyone except my mom (who practically had to throw us out the door for dinner when she was in town visiting).
Now with two kids, a babysitter has become a semi-regular part of our lives. She doesn’t come every week (not even every month), but I don’t feel guilty when I need to call her. Last week she came twice, for just a few hours each time, because I had commitments and my husband had a big project come up at work.
Just because I’m a mom doesn’t mean I don’t need a life outside of my home. I need balance. A lot of my friends don’t have kids yet, so playdates aren’t always the answer for social interaction. Sometimes I just need to grab dinner with friends or get out for a few hours.
Maybe for you it isn’t a babysitter. Maybe it is having friends over after the kids have gone to bed. Or maybe it is your husband watching the kids for an entire Saturday while you get your nails done, go shopping, and just relax. It’s okay to need “me” time.
Sometimes those breaks are for other commitments: Junior League, Bible study, a hobby…things that are just for you, where you get to be Jane. Moms need something to call their own just as much as the kids need to be driven to soccer practice and dinner needs to be made.
Here are some ways to find balance when you don’t have older children to watch the little ones:
1. Make time in the morning or night. I am a morning person. Most days I wake up at 4:30 to grab a few hours of solitude before anyone else in my house wakes up. If I miss this time I tend to be a little harried in the mornings.
2. Find something just for you. I’ve been doing Junior League for almost 6 years, and this year I’ve had a pretty demanding role. It takes me out of the house 3-8 times a month. Sometimes my husband covers the kids for me and other times I hire a sitter, but I know at least three times a month I’m doing something that is just for me (not really, since it is a huge volunteer organization, but you get what I mean).
3. Take breaks during the day. We bought a new house in August and one of my favorite features is the playroom with the door. My kids prefer to play in there with the door closed so the dog doesn’t bother them, and I don’t stop them from closing it. Sometimes at random times during the day I find myself with a little downtime to take deep breaths, pray, and clean in quiet. It’s okay to admit that some days you just need a few minutes to gather yourself. You don’t have to hang out with your kids every second during the day.
I’m a very hands-on mom. We do crafts, play, build, go for walks, clean together, etc., but every mom needs to find balance. Balance won’t look the same for everyone. Some moms may only need 5 minutes a week to themselves, while others may need 6-7 hours.
What is important to remember is that finding time to ourselves can make us better parents. Even if that means sitting in the closet eating a chocolate bar or hiring a sitter once a month so we can get out of the house alone.
How do you find balance in a busy homeschooling life with littles?