Time flies when you’re having fun (or not). How to reclaim your time and start living your life. Page 2
As mums we can often feel as if we have very little choice in how our day pans out. We are at the mercy of other people’s schedules; our children, the school, our bosses. This lack of control can make us feel helpless and without options. But the truth is you always have a choice. Sure, there are consequences to your choices but ultimately, you can control how you use your time.
There are certainly some obligations and responsibilities we cannot escape - children need to be fed, bills need to be paid, pets need to be walked. Rather than complain about these obligations you can make active decisions about them. Yes, I have to work but I hate my job so I’ll look for a new one. Yes, I have to make dinner each night but if my kids have spaghetti three days in a row I’m okay with that. We spend far too much time doing things we think we should and far too little doing what we want. When it is your choice you don’t see it as a negative.
You always have time for the things you think are important. If you aren’t making time for yourself and the things you love then what you’re saying is that these things are not important to you.
How do you separate the important from the inconsequential? Identify your core values and prioritise your time based on what is important to you. What matters most? Is it your kids? Your career? Your relationship with your partner? One of my core values is connection. So tasks that bring me closer to my core value of connection will always be a priority for me. Given the choice between unpacking the dishwasher and gossiping with my sister over the phone, my sister wins every time. When you focus on your core values the stuff that really doesn’t matter becomes very obvious (hint: it’s almost always housework!).
Checking in with your core values not only helps you decide what you want to do, it can also help you to decide what’s not so important. Whatever is on your To Do list did not get there by magic. You chose to write it down. You said yes to it. With your core values in mind ask yourself:
- What can you stop doing?
- Who can you start saying no to?
- Where do you waste time?
Be prepared to ask for help
To be blunt, mums suck at asking for help. But in order to create more time for yourself you need to get comfortable with asking for and accepting help. The saying “it takes a village” didn’t come from nowhere. The idea of a mother providing for all of a child’s needs is actually a very recent phenomenon and is unique to Western middle-class society. Enlist the support of other mums, dads, extended family, neighbours, child care. Share your quest for more “me time” and gather together a band of merry supporters.
If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. And you’ll be stuck at home on the couch with your well-earned cup of tea and seventeen minutes to drink it.