My biggest challenge when it comes to time management, is taking time for myself. And I don’t mean taking time to shower, drink my coffee without my one year old twins pulling on my leg to nurse, or sit on my lap, But time for me to sit and read more then 3 pages of my favorite gossip magazines, or get my nails done, or just go in my room and tap a much needed nap. But I know even with being a mom of 4, including one year old twins, I need time for myself, even if it’s a little time. 🙂
You absolutely need to take time for yourself. Everyone does. “It takes a village to raise a child” is not just a nice little saying. It’s true.
First, you need to get clear on how much time you need for yourself. It varies for each person. Some moms need a lot while others don’t need as much. (I’m an ambivert so I tend to need time each day to withdraw away from everybody and everything…so I plan accordingly!)
Once you know what you need, the next step is to rally your troops. I’ll go in the order that I call in help, but you can change this to fit your reality.
1. Your husband/partner. You didn’t make those four kids by yourself, so you shouldn’t need to take care of them all by yourself. Although they don’t always initiate, often our partners are willing to share the load of parenting when we directly express our needs. Although it would be nice, we can’t expect them to be mind readers. At the beginning of most weeks, I have a brief conversation with my husband Reggie about what is on the family calendar for the week and ask him for whatever support I anticipate needing. It doesn’t matter if you are a stay at home mom, a work from home mom or a working outside of the home mom, the other person who helped bring the kids into the world need to help parent (not “babysit”) your shared kids!
2. Your family. I am so grateful for my husband’s aunt. She is my “go to” person when Reggie is not available. I try not to abuse her kindness/usually only ask her for help once a month now that my sons are older. However, when my sons were really young and we lived closer to each other, she would volunteer to come over and help practically every week. Do you have any family in the area that could help out on occasion? Along with giving you a much-needed break, it will also help your kids form stronger family bonds. Just be certain to express your appreciation – both verbally and with other things that encourage the family members that help you out.
3. Your friends. Some friends are even closer than family and will volunteer to give you a break. Take them up on their offers! I’ll admit that I was pretty bad at taking friends up on their offers to watch my kids when they were younger. I’m so over that now. If a trusted friend mentions that they want to spend time with the kids, I’m pulling out my calendar and penning them in on the spot. 🙂
4. Hire (or barter) help. If you can afford to hire someone to watch the kids in order to give you a break, do it. I’m very particular regarding whom I leave my kids with so I have only hired people that I already knew and trusted. However, I have plenty of friends who have used services like care.com and sittercity.com to find reliable childcare. Other friends cut childcare costs by sharing popular local babysitters at the same time. (I’m not sure if that’s an option with four kids, but you could check into it.)
My preferred method at this level is bartering. My husband and I barter childcare with another family each month for outside date nights. One month, we’ll watch their kids while they go out and then we switch it up the next month. Alternating once a month is all that we can handle schedule-wise, but I know other moms who barter more frequently with other moms throughout the week. Also, think outside of the box, bartering isn’t necessarily babysitting for babysitting. For instance, I will sometimes “barter” a couple of hours of childcare from a single girlfriend (who already loves my kids) in exchange for providing a really great home cooked meal. As long as both sides feel like they’re getting a great deal, there is room for creativity.
I hope those tips help… and that you get a break.
That’s it for this week. If you have a time management or work/life balance question, please let me know. I will be answering questions online each week. To have your question answered, please fill out this super short form.