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For most mothers, this may be the first time they may be experiencing a child-free hour or two at a stretch for consecutive days. And while that may be a strange feeling to get used to in the beginning, these couple of hours are also an opportunity for mothers to give time to areas of life that may have taken a backseat in the past few years. Here are our suggestions for ways to use your fleeting freedom.
So your little one’s finally started school. This can be a bit of a daunting phase, bringing with it some emotional hurdles and unsettling changes in your family’s daily routine. But it also means that, for the very first time ever, your kid is going to be out of the house almost everyday, albeit for just a few hours! This article is all about how you can make the best use of this newfound free time.
But wait a minute. “Free time? What free time?”, some of you might scoff.
For those of us who work full time, especially from an office, this new phase may not afford any extra ‘me time’ at all. However, for those of us who are full-time homemakers or have a flexible work schedule, the availability of a few child-free hours everyday can be game-changing. But only if you allow it to be. Read on to find out how to make the most of your child-free time.
Thing is, it’s easy to while away these precious couple of hours completing yet more household tasks or scrolling through Instagram. It’s important to approach your mid-morning break with some mindfulness in order to truly make the most of it.
So take a moment to think about the last two to three years of relentless child-rearing. Once you’re ready, pick up your handy Jot-It! Notebook and make a list of the things that you’ve been missing the most during that time.
Your list could include anything from working out in peace to shopping by yourself. The only rule to follow is: avoid scheduling activities for yourself during school hours that can be attended to when your child is back home. So folding laundry or putting away dishes should definitely not be on the list. Be like Marie Kondo and focus on ‘sparking joy’ through the things you choose to do during these precious few hours. Here are some suggestions to get your list started.
Have you been putting off health- and wellness-related activities for the past few years? Well, now is the time to put your focus back on those areas. Whether it’s the doctor or the dentist, or even a salon appointment, go for it guiltfree. If you’ve been wanting to seek therapy, but haven’t found the time for it, make the most of this opportunity.
Although it may not be first or even second instinct for you as a young mother, learn to prioritise your wellness. This will improve not just your physical but also your mental well-being. If it helps, reframe it like so: by being present for yourself, you will be better equipped, mentally and physically, to attend to your little one.
Although you may think running after your young child may be enough activity for a day, having dedicated time for exercise, wherein the focus is solely on you and your body’s needs can bring many benefits – both mental and physical.
Giving birth and taking care of a little one takes a heavy toll on the body. Get back your strength and confidence by dedicating some of your me-time every week towards exercise.
Go for a walk or a run, work out at a gym, or sign up for swimming classes – whatever you choose, know that you will be doing your body and mind a world of good. If you haven’t been able to give much time to exercise in the last few years, we suggest that you start slow and build up strength and stamina. Be gentle on yourself, and focus on simply enjoying your time.
The first few years of motherhood can be lonely and isolating. So, we encourage you to rekindle old friendships! It can feel like a bit of a challenge to pick things up from where you may have left off, especially if you’re the only parent in your friends group. Finding suitable time and activities that align can be tricky, but it’s not impossible!
Do try to get out of your own head, and out into the world to connect with people. While the effort may be daunting, the benefits are many! Studies show friendships increase your sense of belonging and purpose, help reduce stress, and improve self-confidence and self-worth. You could combine aforementioned activities like exercising and visiting the salon with catching up with friends, making the best of many worlds! (Caution: While old habits die hard, do make an effort to steer away from “baby and kids” conversations!)
Another relationship that takes second place for many mothers is the one with their partner. If and when possible, plan a little something during your child’s playschool hours. This could be something as simple as getting a coffee or going out for breakfast or brunch at an eatery near your child’s playschool.
Avoid planning something that involves you being at home because chances are, you’ll both end up attending to work or household chores. Instead, spend some time alone together doing things that you do not get to do as part of your normal routine. Check out some more ideas here.
You might wonder, what can you possibly accomplish in an hour or two once a week? But even that one hour that you use to put your mind to something new that challenges you in a unique way can be surprisingly refreshing and rejuvenating. Hobbies can make you better problem-solvers in life, and if there’s one skill you need as a parent, it’s to be able to put out fires (hopefully not literal ones!) at a moment’s notice.
You don’t have to overthink your chosen activity. Pick something that feels realistic and sparks joy. It could be anything from gardening, reading, or playing an instrument, to singing or dancing. What’s more, having a passion of your own will encourage your child to develop their own interests.
If all of the above is suddenly overwhelming you, which it might, take a deep breath. If all you want to do is just lie back on your couch and catch up on your favourite show, or indeed, catch up on your sleep, go for it! Bottomline is, this is your time, and as long as you find a way to make it about you, you’re doing great!