|via Matthia Rhomberg|
I have no idea how much "free time" I have each day or week, because I stay at home with my kids, take care of our home, and write when I get a chance. If I look at all of those things as "work" then I have almost no free time. If I look at those tasks as things that I enjoy, then my life is chock full of free time.
Am I in the lucky minority with free time to spare? Or is my assessment that I have "plenty of time to do the things that I enjoy," simply a matter of perspective?
Last week I also received an email with a writing prompt for this week's question for the Blogher Life Well Lived Panel.
How do you put yourself first? How does taking time for yourself help make you happier?
In general I don't feel like I put myself first very often. The choices that I make are almost always centered around the best interest of the entire family rather than mine alone. But everyone has heard the saying, "If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!" So I will say that I make an effort to keep myself happy for the good of my family :)
Part of how it works for me has a lot to do with what I posted last week: I try really hard to not over schedule my family. I keep our commitments spaced out so that I CAN take time for myself without a ton of effort. We have lots of holes in our schedule that could easily accommodate a short girls night out, or a few hours of "me time" at some point during the week while someone else watches the kids.
Our light schedules makes it easy for my husband and I to share the parenting duties on the weekends and weeknights so that we can each have time to exercise, work, or shop un-accompanied. We also cut each other a lot of slack- and don't guilt trip when the other one occasionally needs to spend a night away from the family.
But most of the time that I am taking time for myself is not a major production or a huge chunk of time. I try to build occasional alone time into our normal weekly schedule- through using the child care at our local gym while I get in a quick workout, swapping playdates/babysitting with a friend for a few hours during a busy week, or by wandering the mall with a starbucks in hand while the kids are in school.
I pick and choose carefully what I do when I find myself without the kids because I know it doesn't happen very often. Dragging both kids to the grocery store isn't fun, but it's better than attempting to take them both into Gap while I try on 47 pairs of jeans, or expecting them to behave while I browse craft supplies at the craft store.
Even on days where alone time is all but impossible, there are little ways that I can lift my mood. I bring the laptop into the kitchen and play my favorite Pandora station while I cook, or I clip on my ipod and jam to my favorite playlist while I scrub the bathrooms. I also often sacrifice at least 30 min of early morning slumber so that I can collect my thoughts in peace before my family wakes.
I don't do anything huge to put myself first, but it doesn't take a whole lot to make me happy. I guess in the end, it probably is at least somewhat a matter of perspective.
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