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One of the most challenging tasks for moms of young kids (or even those with older ones involved in a variety of extracurricular activity) is to find time for themselves. It is absolutely essential that you find this time if you want to be vibrant and powerful, yet it remains one of the biggest struggles.
In January I was listening to McLean Masterworks Prediction week – which I absolutely love because she brings on a different psychic, numerologist, channeller or astrologist each day for a week to share information to guide us in 2017.
This year the message was so beautifully consistent (it probably always is, but I don't always remember from year to year). Every guest talked about the need for all of us to reclaim our personal power and focus our efforts on raising our vibrational energy through self-care, self-love and self-nurturance. Things are changing and it is imperative we change with it.
The idea of focusing our energy on ourselves is an about-face for many of us and requires us to let go of beliefs tied to laziness, selfishness, decadence and so on… Whether you choose to make this shift at this time or not, at the very least I hope you will tune into the message that has been coming through for quite a while now… carrying around a tonne of stress, pushing yourself too hard, looking after everyone but yourself… is not helping you or the people around you.
If this is you, you are modelling an unhealthy lifestyle to your child that could impact on their own health in the future as well as what they expect from their life partner. I've already mentioned in numerous other podcasts that when you look after you first, everyone benefits…so assuming you agree with at least one of these statements…let's move on to talking about how you can make this happen in your life, starting today.
A minimum of 20 minutes a day is a good starting point if you aren't practicing this already…but ultimately an hour as a minimum would be ideal. On the other hand, if you can only find a moment here and there to make it work then we'll take that and call it a successful start.
The goal: Figure out a way to have some alone time and make a point of taking full advantage of this time.
What you'll do in this time: Whatever brings you pleasure, recharges your battery, helps you feel loved and raises your vibration. Include little things that make an ordinary few minutes special for you: Light a candle, play some music, sip a favorite drink (warning: mind altering substances can eliminate the benefit if included often), walk barefoot on some grass or sand, dance, meditate, journal, paint…
I know alone time can be a real struggle, especially if you are a single parent; married – but often on your own; or dealing with a child who has special needs. So most of these ideas can help when you have kids who need you and you do not have a partner to help. If you do have an active partner you want to start clearly asking for help if you aren't already and blocking out time for self-care for you.
Two things that are critical to remember when raising kids are;
First (I know I already mentioned this, but it's worth repeated), everything you do (or don't do) is being recorded by your child and will later surface as patterns in their own life. This means, if you don't figure out a way to look after yourself first, they might not be able to either. This is not a great thing to teach as this knowledge resides in the subconscious mind and is not easy to recognize and therefore change as they get older.
Second, part of your job as a parent is to teach your child how to survive when you are not around. If you are always around and always doing for them, you are not really doing your job. I'm not saying this to be mean, but to remind you that teaching your four year old how to play quietly in a room for ten minutes while you are occupied somewhere else is important. I know there are plenty of people who suggest we must constantly watch and protect our children to keep them safe, but I have to respectfully disagree. Yes, we need to be smart about where we are leaving them and how we have helped them prepare to be alone, but beyond that we are doing a disservice when we won't let them out of our sight.
Ideas to find time for you…
1) Independence time - So, with these two points in mind, a potential way to find time for you is to start training your child today for small amounts of alone time. With a young toddler you might want to use a crib or playpen for containment, then move on to their bedroom, or some other 'safe' space.
Sometimes it even works to keep them in the same space as you, but be clear on what you are doing. Here's a sample conversation with a 3 year old that's already been told they're going to start practicing 'independence time':
"Honey, it's time to practice being on your own for a few minutes. You can stay in the room with me if you play quietly by yourself or you can go into your room and play there until I'm done. Which would you like to try?"
I realize this might seem like a stretch if your child is quite clingy or gravitates towards dangerous activity, and it is possible you'll have to wait until he's older, but at some point this bridge will need to be crossed so it worth doing it with awareness.
If this feels like punishment to you, then you likely have a negative belief about being alone. It's worth it to learn how to let that belief go as it is something you'll want to release in this life time. Just the other day a psychic named Brian Hurst spoke on this idea and channelled how there is a difference between being alone and being lonely.
Confidence, self-love and a balanced ego will allow you to very comfortably be alone without ever feeling left-out, lonely or punished. Recognize this as your own issue (and heal it!) so you can refuse to pass it on to your child.
2) Education time - In line with this, often times older kids are more than willing to help you out with childcare if you would ask, help them create a safe environment and then trust them to do the task. Asking them to help out for little bits like this does not make you a bad or negligent parent. It actually helps them with skills they'll benefit from throughout their life. Asking your six year old to be on watch and sound the alarm should her four year old sibling decide to fry some eggs by himself is teaching responsibility and might just buy you some of the time you need to recharge.
3) Fix your 'to do' list - Take a good look at the things on your daily 'to do' list that you insist must get done. Write them down and beside them put what would happen if you didn't do them. For example, if you didn't make a meal, your two year old and you would not eat. Obviously this item is truly important.
Interestingly, when you do this and are really honest with yourself, you will likely find at least a few things that are not as important as you might have thought. The cleanliness of your house, laundry, frequency of baths for kids… are often areas that have been internalized by mothers as top priority when in fact, they really are quite flexible.
If you doubt this, try pretending that someone you love very much has become deathly ill. In order to care for him/her you need to strike several things off your already very full day. What could you cut out? It's sad, but often it takes an exercise like this (too frequently a real life one) to make us sit up and take notice of what's really important.
Give this a try and see if the world comes to an end because the laundry isn't done daily or the dishes sit in the sink. If it comes down to being a woman with a clean house or one who practices self-care on a regular basis, the one looking after herself first will win every time.
4) Create a support system - Strike up friendships whenever possible with other adults who seem similar to you in needs and set up an exchange program (“If you help me out once in a while, I will return the favour for you”). This can also be done with neighborhood teenagers who don't mind doing good deeds for others (some even need to do volunteer hours for school), local seniors, neighbours and people you meet through groups you belong to (church, play groups, community club).
Unfortunately, most of us have been taught that asking for help is a sign of weakness or makes us indebted to that person. The truth is, many people love kids and enjoy being around them. Asking them to help you in exchange for a reference letter, volunteer credit, time away from their lonely apartment, etc, can be exactly what they are looking for. This does not make you a bad parent – but actually models creativity, ingenuity and community development.
Creating a support system you can count on is well worth the effort. Family, friends, neighbors, and other parents you meet at playgroups, etc., can all become part of this system. A good support system doesn’t need to cost money if you can come up with a barter system that works for you both.
5) Change Your Wake Hours – I cringe just saying that one, but only because I know how often parents (moms especially) give up their sleep time to get other tasks done. Sleep is super important and I'm not suggesting you give up even more. On the other hand a well planned out hour before bed can set you up for a better night sleep and create a routine that really feeds your soul.
For others, there is no way they can stay up any later, but they could adjust their wake up time to give themselves an extra 30 minutes for themselves. My sister was just telling me the other day that she chooses to get up at 4:15 a.m. so she has time for herself rather than sleep until 5:00 and get caught in her deepest sleep. The trick with this is to either use an app or consciously tell yourself you want to wake up at the best time for you before your alarm so you feel awake and rested. Then, when your eyes pop open 20 minutes before your alarm (or maybe even an hour!) get out of bed instead of turning over and going back to sleep. We sleep in 90 minute cycles…finding your best wake-up time can make a huge difference in how groggy you feel.
In both of these cases, the secret is to plan the time. What will do during this time to recharge your batteries and help you have the best day/sleep possible.
If it's an evening routine you are creating you might light a candle or a fire in your fireplace and gaze into it in meditation with calming music playing in the background. You might write in a gratitude journal during this time
and sip on a herbal (no caffeine) tea. You might do some simple stretches, take a warm bath or read. Whatever you decide is up to you, just make sure it is conducive to sleep and you come up with ideas ahead of time. If you don't you are quite likely to plop yourself down in front of the TV or, even worse, continue on with your daily tasks.
If it's a morning routine do your best to wake up naturally (without an alarm) or take some time to move your alarm time around until you find your best wake-up time. Typically you'll want to schedule in a few things that get you moving and wake you up fully in the first part of your routine.
Washing your face, showering, light exercises, walking outside – can all be great ways to ensure you are fully awake. A cup of hot water with lemon squeezed in is a great way to get your system moving and support your liver. I use a full spectrum light at this time to help strengthen my circadian rhythm and wake me up fully. Because the light is so bright and my eyes have to be open to benefit, I use this time to read 10 pages of a book and complete a short journaling process. I follow that up with a guided meditation – that way if I fall back asleep the ending of the session always wakes me up.
If you can only squeeze in little stolen moments throughout the day, sprinkle in the things that bring you pleasure wherever they can fit. Light a candle if it's safe to do so when you sit down to supper. Keep your journal in the bathroom and take a few extra minutes there to contemplate. Fully immerse yourself in the shower by living in the moment, hum while you prepare a meal or lose yourself in open eyed meditation while you do dishes.
It's totally up to you what this time looks like, what's absolutely critical though, is that you make the time.
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