The #1 Reason You Need Time for Yourself

By Valerie Latona
The #1 Reason You Need Time for Yourself

It’s noon and I’m still in my pajamas. I have a clean load of laundry sitting in my bedroom waiting to be folded—and a pile of dirty (diaper explosion dirty) laundry that needs to be taken down to our basement laundry room. And there’s a pile of toys that I used to try to amuse my fussy five-month-old, Alexander…to no avail.

He just went down to sleep—and I’m feeling relieved and a bit overwhelmed. Should I do the elliptical (I haven’t been regularly working out since he was born), go down to the kitchen and eat a few more bites of cinnamon crumb coffee cake (I’ve already had about three not-so-small slices this morning), do the laundry, conquer my to-do pile of papers, or take a much-needed nap? I’m writing on the computer instead. Go figure.

This is the way my days go. It’s a long way from the days when I was editor in chief of Shape, sitting at my desk in designer heels and clothes directing a top magazine and website. Those are the days when I was up at 5 a.m.—not to feed a baby but to head to the gym for my daily workout.

Now I spend half my days in my pajamas or sweats—not because I’ve become lazy, but because I’ve been up half the night with my baby and spent the entire morning with him, either breastfeeding him or pumping breastmilk … or amusing him.

I love him beyond…there are no words to measure how much I love this little guy BUT I’ve got to get out of this slump, because finding time for yourself as a mom is critical. It helps you feel better about yourself, and it makes you a better mom in general because you’re happier when you’re around your children.

So—with that said—here are my five steps to taking back your days…and your life (and your body!):

1) Make it a goal to get moving EVERY DAY. Yes, I know it sounds intimidating, but start with just 5 minutes. Get your baby in the stroller and go around the block, run up and down your stairs for 5 minutes, jump rope (although if you’re breastfeeding, I would skip as all the jiggling could hurt!). Working out immediately makes you feel better and after you do 5 minutes, you’ll probably end up doing a few more.

2) Stop feeling guilty. Every minute I’m ignoring my baby while he’s awake, I feel guilty that I’m not paying attention to him. But our children are not going to need therapy later on in life because we spent 30 minutes reading the paper, having a cup of tea, or doing something that we want!

3) It’s okay to spend the money on help. Yes, childcare is pricey, but there are so many not-so-pricey options if you need an hour or two to yourself. And, if you don’t want to go out without your baby, you can even hire a local student to come to your home and just occupy your baby while you do other things. There’s a very precocious 5th grader in my neighborhood who calls all the time wanting to babysit. At $5 an hour, I’m going to finally take her up on it, even if it is just an hour…so I can tackle some of the piles around my house.

4) Make a to-do list. I had one and then I stopped making one, but what I found is that I was more productive when I had a specific list of things I needed to do. Now I get overwhelmed by all the to-do piles on my desk and in my house. By focusing with a list (keep it by your bedside for middle-of-the night revelations), you’ll end up being more productive in less time.

5) Be sure to spend at least an hour a day on YOURSELF. This doesn’t have to be a consecutive hour, but it’s good if it can be. For me, this is usually time to shower. Buy yourself your favorite body wash, lotion, foot scrub…the works. I luxuriate in at least a 30-minute hot shower. I know it’s a water waster but, by the time I’m out, I feel like a new person. Well worth it!

But you can spend this hour in any way you want: I’d suggest not watching TV or using the computer, though. For me, this makes me feel worse afterward…because I haven’t really done anything for me!

© Valerie Latona LLC 2012