I am a busy mother with a blended family of seven children. We have four boys and three girls ranging in age from 2 to 21. There are four teenagers in that bunch plus a very sweet 11-year-old.
Like many moms, I also work and am self-employed as a financial adviser. I have an office in Carson City and in Reno and also coach basketball for a coed team and an all-girls team. My children are incredibly busy with different activities, and my husband and I do all we can to make every one of their games, plays, concerts, etc. The toddler is an extra bundle of fun that joins us in all of our crazy scheduled days and never stops moving.
Most moms find it almost impossible to get any “me” time regardless of the number of children or whether one works at home or outside the house. It is possible and necessary to our mental and physical health as women.
First, I strongly suggest finding 30 minutes in the day to fit in some type of workout. I can’t believe the difference in my energy level and overall mood when I spend 30 minutes on a treadmill or just take a brisk walk. My children know that is my time. I listen to “Rocky” music to pump myself up for the day ahead, and unless it is an emergency, the kids know that Mom needs to be left alone while she is working out. When I don’t take that time, I naturally don’t feel good and find myself eating less healthy and seeking out sugar, which I try to avoid at all costs.
It is incredibly important to schedule time with friends, and if it makes you feel guilty to do that, then come up with a “friends night” each week where your children have a friend over and you go out with a friend or group of friends at the same time. They can have fun with their friend and a babysitter and the whole family approaches it as a healthy break from their daily routine.
I do miss my kids when I am away from them, but I also know that I will be more relaxed and a more effective parent if I get a chance to go laugh and play with friends on a regular basis.
I also think finding a hobby is a key to being a happy and complete mom. My hobby happens to be writing and all of the children know that I need to be uninterrupted while I write. Not only do I get some peace from the everyday grind, I am also doing something that I love.
Find the one thing that you love and pursue it every week. Your children can be doing the same thing you are if they enjoy it, but encourage them to do it in a different room so everyone gets some much needed alone time. If you feel like everyone is benefiting from the new hobby, you won’t feel bad taking the time for yourself.
I usually sneak away into my home office with a nice cup of coffee and write. I take my time and don’t worry about rushing my way through things. If you find a hobby, treat it with lots of respect and give yourself permission to work on it weekly.
I recently read a column about whether strong marriages needed a date night to help maintain a happy home. The word that I resisted in the column was “needed.” Do you need a date to stay happy? Maybe not. Many people love taking their kids with them every time they go out. Instead, I prefer to think of date nights as something I want to do. This takes the pressure off of having to schedule a date night as a way to be happy and instead makes a night out feel like a mini-vacation from the daily grind. I think we should want these small breaks and when we return, we are even more excited to see our children than when we left.
If you don’t take some of this time for yourself, you have a strong chance of burning out and becoming anxious and even depressed. If you can’t take the time to exercise, find a hobby, or fit in a date night, then at least light some candles and enjoy a nice warm bath a few times a week once the house is quiet.
You deserve every break you can get from work, or being a mom, or being a wife because when you return from your small escape, you will find that all of these different hats you wear will fit just a bit better.
Katie Coombs is the host of the radio show “Uncommon Sense with Katie Coombs.” You can reach her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/UncommonSenseKC/.