You have a lot of responsibilities. In our world today, we are constantly having to multitask and think what our next move is in the day. Between work, and the kids, your partner, household chores, and other responsibilities, it can be hard to carve out time for yourself, and when you do, it’s easy to feel guilty. People wonder why anxiety, panic attacks, depression and other mental health issues are so prevalent. Look at your schedule and how much you have to fit in, and you may very well find your answer. I’m not saying these things will cure your anxiety or depression, but it is certainly a start.
In order to effectively care for your family and other obligations, it’s vital to take care of yourself. When you’re running on empty, you don’t have much to give, and that starts to take a toll, not just on your physical and mental health, but on your relationships with your family and others. Taking time for yourself can make you a better person, which means you will be better able to care for those you love as well. I often mention to clients that when you are on an airplane, they always tell you that in case of an emergency, you have to put your own oxygen mask on before you can help other people. This is because if you pass out, you are no help to anyone. This is true to life in general. Here are a few ways you can carve out a little time for yourself, without feeling guilty:
Swap with a friend
Find a couple of friends with whom you can swap babysitting time. Spend that time doing something you enjoy while your kids enjoy a play date with other family.
Get your partner’s support
Taking time for yourself isn’t going to be as effective if your spouse doesn’t support it. Even if you find someone to swap daycare and it doesn’t affect your spouse’s schedule, it may be something they have issues with. If this is the case, talk to them and try to get their buy-in. If they cannot see the benefit and continue to give you a hard time, it might be a good idea to come in to therapy to talk about what could be going on in your relationship that you aren’t getting support in taking care of yourself.
Trying to coordinate time within the couple for each other to have alone time can be very helpful. It can also help you appreciate each other and the sacrifice you each make for each other on a daily basis.
Tuesday morning one of you goes out for a yoga class, while Friday evening is poker night for the other one. Whatever you enjoy, commit to finding time to do it regularly.
Sneak it in
If scheduling time feels too forced, try being sneaky. Get the kids involved in an activity they can do on their own while you slip away with a good book, or take a few minutes to meditate when the kids take a nap.
Change your routine
Add in some things you do for each other. Have your spouse’s coffee ready in the morning for them. This seemingly simple task could really mean the world to them.
If your family is new to the idea of you taking time for yourself, you may need to ease them into it. Explain what it means and how it will help you be a better partner and parent, and be sure to do something fun when you get back.
By simplifying your social commitments, your shopping, and your chores, you’ll be surprised how much more breathing room you’ll have (and how much easier it is to find the time you need).
If you still can’t get over the guilt of taking time for yourself, find a friend to drag you off to a class. You might find it easier to get away if you have someone to nudge you.