How many times have you been invited somewhere, seen something advertised that you would love to go to, wanted to take half an hour out just for some alone time, but then thought, “actually, I don’t have the time for that?”

Probably too many times.

The problem with not having time is, that if you continually “don’t have time” for yourself, it can leave you feeling stressed, unhappy and eventually burnt out.

Who were you before life got serious?

As a parent, I feel that is it important for me to do things that make me remember who I was before I became “Mam”. I absolutely love being “mam” and spending time with my kids. But I also love being Claire and I don’t think its selfish to want both.  

Think for a moment. How long ago was it since you enjoyed a hot drink without fielding a million questions between each sip? How long ago since your conversations revolved around you and not your kids? How long ago was it since you were just a woman without a to-do list in hand (or in the head)?

Probably too long ago to remember.

For those of you who know me and follow me on social media. You’re probably reading this, thinking “She can remember,  she’s always off somewhere without the kids enjoying an uninterrupted brew” (or red wine if you really know me).

You are right, I am and I am not ashamed of that.

Are you away again?

I am fortunate that I get to travel a lot, mostly for work, but I also choose to travel for pleasure (without my kids and husband) to spend time for me with my friends.  Being a parent can be tough on friendships and relationships  and it is important that we still make time for them and time for us doing what we love. For me, that is to travel.

It’s surprising how many times I still get the “Are you away again?”….. “You’re never here” comments, made to me in jest when I’m heading off on ‘another’ trip.  Although said in jest, I do wonder whether those same comments would ever be said to a man?

Be the top of your own list

I believe that is important we get rid of that stigma that mothers must be confined to the role of “mum” until children are adults.  I want my children to appreciate that I am “mam”, but I am also “Claire” and that I have my own needs and interests outside of them.  When they grow up I want them to prioritise time for themselves too and not to forget how to look after their needs as well as those around them. It is so easy to allow yourself to become the least important person on your to do list. I always want my daughters to remember that they deserve to be top of their own list.

For women these days, it seems like the hamster wheel is always spinning, even at night when we step off and lay down to sleep. We always hear it, calling us to get back on and keep going. Reminding us of how many more miles we could go if we only worked harder. We all know that no matter how hard we work, there will always be more to do. There comes a point when we have to take a step back and say No because sometimes saying no also means saying yes to you, or those things you have been wanting to do but cannot find the time.

Put yourself first

There’s no right or wrong way to take time for yourself. There’s simply what you want to do and what you don’t. One person’s way of doing things isn’t the way the whole world should do it.

But what I believe is a given, is that we all should be doing something for ourselves, no matter how small it may seem.

The benefits of making time for you can have a positive impact not only on our own mental health, but a ripple effect on all of the relationships we have with those people closest to us.

Here’s a few things I have learned through spending time focusing on me and my personal development:

  • My family function perfectly well when I am not here.
  • Being away from my family has made me let go of trying to control everything and it actually isn’t as scary as I thought.
  • We can all learn to cope and adapt to being apart for short periods of time.
  • I have the space to focus on work and dedicate some uninterrupted time on new projects (or in reality, a new Netflix series).
  • We all appreciate each other so much more when we are back together, having spent some time apart.

Now I am not suggesting you all go out and book a holiday without your family (although we do have some amazing retreats coming up I can recommend haha).

Do what you love

However, I am saying it is important to have a think about what it is you would love to do “if only you had the time”.  What is it that you miss doing that you loved to do before life changed, responsibilities set in and suddenly your time felt like it was no longer your own?

Once you have an idea, spend some time to work out a plan of how you can start to make this a reality and for a small part of the week, be the top of your priority list. You deserve it.