5 Tips to Make Time for Yourself as a Stay at Home Mom
As a stay at home mom and introvert, oftentimes, my biggest wish was to make time for myself. Ah, a moment’s peace all by myself. I’m leisurely laying on a beach chair, my favorite author’s latest book in my hands, the warm sun on my face, the breeze playing with my hair, and the calming whisper of ocean waves lapping the shore.
Suddenly, my son’s loud, angry voice pierces through my daydream. I’m back smack dab in the reality of my messy house sitting among the piles of unfolded laundry. I hear my children arguing over who gets to play with a toy again. Some women may fantasize about adventure and romance, I fantasize about sleep and time to myself.
Maybe you’ve had similar fantasies? But like me, actually getting time to yourself as a stay at home mom is complicated and doesn’t happen enough, or at all. Maybe your husband works long hours, making it hard for him to take the kids so you can get an hour or two to yourself. Or you feel guilty when you do get time to yourself. What can you do in between those times where you actually get time to yourself?
I will show you how to feel like you get more time to yourself as a stay at home mom, without adding more pressure to be doing more and more guilt. The best way to make time for yourself is to make tiny changes to your daily life like prioritizing yourself, doing activities you enjoy with your kids, maximizing a few minutes at a time, scheduling alone time, and being aware of roadblocks that will stop you from getting the time you need.
Tip #1: Prioritize Yourself
Start thinking about how you can prioritize your wants and needs. Remember you are a member of the family, too, and you deserve to be cared for just like everyone else in your household.
A great place to start is simply by giving yourself a turn to choose in your daily activities. Listening to children’s music all the time. Guess what? It’s mommy’s turn to pick a song or a station to listen to for 10 minutes. Playing a game? Mommy’s turn to pick a game.
You can do this for lots of things by simply including a turn for mom to choose, instead of allowing your children choices all of the time. If you have a daily schedule you follow, include mommy choice time in there. If you need to pick up your mood, play music for a fun dance party. Want to exercise? Check out Go Noodle or Cosmic Kid Yoga apps on your TV and do the activities together. Need to get out of the house? Mom chooses to go for a walk.
Tip #2: Do Activities You Enjoy with Your Kids
What are some small things you can include in your day that bring joy to you? What are some activities you enjoy that you’d like to do more often? Why not try doing these activities and including your children in them? Ask yourself what activities do you enjoy that you can do with kids around? You may have to adapt and adjust some, and it will be slower. But imagine being able to do things you actually enjoy without having to wait for a babysitter.
Baking is an easy activity to allow young children to “help.” When my kids were young, I used to give them their own small bowl to mix up ingredients with a spoon. If they tended to eat ingredients, I only gave them “safe” ingredients. (You can substitute oatmeal for flour, if you aren’t comfortable with them eating flour.)
Now my kids will ask if they can bake brownies, and they are old enough to go do it all by themselves! Then we all get to enjoy delicious, chocolatey brownies warm right out of the oven. Win, win!
Another great example is photography. I enjoy combining hiking and nature photography. Young children can walk with you as you take pictures and use a toy or homemade camera. As they get older, they can move on to actually taking photos with tablets, old phones, and old cameras. My children have watched me take photos for years, and they now enjoy photography themselves. My son has even taken 4-H photography projects, and we’ve all entered photos into an annual county photography contest.
When you include your children in the things you love to do, they learn hobbies from you and sometimes develop a passion for an activity you love to do, too. If nothing else, it gives you common activities to do together as your children grow up.
Tip #3: Maximize a Few Minutes at a Time
Actually finding ways to get a few minutes to yourself as a stay at home mom can feel tough, but start small.
Trade Social Media Time in for Time for Yourself
One great way to make time for yourself as a stay at home mom is to spend less time on social media. I get it. Social media can foster connection, but it can also make you feel worse. Try setting a daily time limit on your phone to notify you when you go past your limit on Facebook and Instagram.
I did this, and I noticed a pattern. My Facebook app would notify me when I spent over 30 minutes on it, and I can snooze it for another 10 minutes.
On the days that I was feeling down and lonely, I would keep hitting that snooze button. I was looking for feelings of connection, but instead I would see groups of friends together having fun, couples eating out at fancy restaurants, and people spending money on trips I couldn’t afford. Comparison happens as you scroll through your feed, and on bad days, it is harder to stop those lightning quick thoughts from spiraling down and making you feel worse.
Instead of spending all that time on social media, try to find something else you can do that makes you feel better. You could watch a favorite short video that makes you laugh, do research online about a hobby you are interested in, or figure out what things you want to do that might bring you joy. Maybe write down 3 things you are grateful for, or simply write in a journal? You could do our self assessment.
Other Moments to Make Time for Yourself
Another great time to take a few minutes for yourself as a stay at home mom is when you are picking your child up from school or an extracurricular activity. If you have your younger kids in the vehicle with you, hand them a snack and put on a children’s audiobook, then take a few minutes to focus on you. I’ve even arrived a few minutes early, just to make a point of getting some extra time to actually read my book or listen to my audiobook.
What are some other times that you could find a few moments to do something more meaningful, something to bring a spark of joy back into your life? A few minutes a day can be important in making you feel like you took time to yourself, especially when you’re a stay at home mom around children all day long.
Tip #4: Schedule Alone Time for Everyone
I am going to share the best tip I received when I was a stay at home mom. Schedule “quiet time” into your schedule every day. I started doing this when my youngest was still taking an afternoon nap, but my oldest was no longer napping. Let me tell you this was the best thing I did for myself, especially as an introvert. I would put my youngest down for a nap, then my oldest would go to his room for quiet time. I would put lots of books, Legos, and stuffed animals in his room. Basically, some quiet toys for him to play with. (I admit it was easier at that time because we had an actual play room where most of the toys were located, so only quiet toys could be in his room.)
My oldest child was asked to stay in his room for quiet time, and I would come get him after 20-30 minutes. (I’d set a timer on my phone to tell him quiet time was over. You could put a timer in your child’s room, too. We also kept monitors in our children’s room for quiet time.) We framed this as everyone needs some alone time and a time to rest in the afternoon. There was an adjustment period, but it was well worth it.
Quiet Time Breaks Up a Long Day
Quiet time helped reset our day. If the morning was rough or sibling disagreements were on the rise, this break from each other helped so much. We continued this long after my children outgrew nap time because it helped so much.
Now let me say, we’ve never used our children’s rooms for punishment. Instead, they are quiet places where they can go to be by themselves and do their own thing. As a house full of introverts, this helped create a place to recharge.
Choose to Make Time for Yourself, Mom
So now that the kids are playing quietly in their rooms, mom, I know you are itching to take care of some housework you’ve been putting off. Don’t. Please don’t. At least not for the first 3-5 minutes of quiet time, do something completely for yourself instead. (Avoid the pitfall of social media though.) Then you can go do housework, but remember we are trying to get into the practice of putting you first.
Do something you want to do. Read a book? Drink a hot cup of tea? Lay down for a moment? Maybe something that is good for your mental health, like doing our self assessment or meditating. If you have Netflix, I recommend trying the “Headspace Unwind Your Mind” interactive meditation. They have 3 minute, 5 minute, and 10 minute options that help you destress and relax.
The possibilities abound for you. Ask yourself, “What would help you feel better in that moment? What do you need right now?” Then do it.
#5: Be Aware of Roadblocks
Now understand because you are making changes, you will probably have to push through some resistance from yourself and from others. Be consistent. Creating new habits takes time. Be aware that certain unrealistic expectations might cause you to feel mom guilt. You are changing patterns that had years in the making.
Remember, you matter, too, mom. Everyone in your family deserves to be cared for, including you. Your family will be better off if you take care of yourself.
The 5 Tips to Make Time for Yourself as a Stay at Home Mom
- Prioritize Yourself
- Doing Activities You Enjoy with Your Kids
- Maximize A Few Minutes
- Scheduling Alone Time for Everyone
- Be Aware of Roadblocks
You and I might not be able to escape to that fantasy beach vacation by ourselves, but we can try to find little moments in each day where we choose ourselves first and get to do things that bring us some joy. These moments may not be perfect or go exactly as planned, but as we continue to build up a habit of caring for ourselves, we’ll start to feel better in between the times that we actually get to be alone by ourselves for an hour or two.
P.S. If you liked this post, check out my other posts on how stay at home moms can model simple self-care practices. avoid the effects of not taking time for yourself, and acknowledge unrealistic expectations for moms.