How to get pre-kid pleasures back into your life.
Remember when you were young and kid-free? You had a lot of time on your hands, so there was no problem fitting in all your favourite pleasurable activities.
And now that time is gone. At least you can’t find any of it. But all is not lost. Follow these eight steps to squeeze more of that precious you-time into every week.
1. Pleasure first. Prioritize pleasurable activities and you’ll be more motivated to do everything else that has to get done. Make a list of all of the things you used to enjoy doing before you had kids. Maybe you loved running, journaling, or watching old movies. Print out a blank calendar page for the next month from your computer and pencil in some of your old favourite activities.
2. Sketch out the “musts.” Okay, now let’s get real. If your toddler doesn’t nap twice a day for 90 minutes each time, your day is going to be shot, right? So the next thing to do is write down on your calendar all the stuff that has to happen to keep your world spinning.
3. Outside commitments. Next, pencil in the family’s ongoing commitments. Your teen’s driving test? Your in-laws are coming into town? Make sure you account for everyone’s plans. Review your family’s schedule weekly. And don’t say yes to any new plans without looking at your current commitments first.
4. “Chunk” your free time. You are now likely to start getting a sense of what your daily, weekly, and monthly time commitments look like. Take note of two types of rhythms: the hectic times and the quiet times. If you are like most parents, you have more of the former than the latter. Don’t worry. Just make a little box around each chunk of quiet time that’s available. I bet it’s more than you realized.
5. Reset your rest. Are you a morning person or a night person? If you are a morning person, see if you can set your alarm an hour earlier each day to make the most of those dark, quiet morning hours when everything is hushed and still.
Similarly, if you are a night person, plan to stay up an extra hour so you can milk some of your midnight oil. Draw boxes around any chunks of extra time you’ve created rising early or turning in late.
6. Set your alarms. Reset your bedroom alarm clock if you plan to get up earlier. Then set your cell phone to remind you 15 minutes before each chunk of available free time. Once you are more aware of your available time, you will be less likely to let it slip by unnoticed.
7. Defend your rights. When inevitable interruptions come along such as flu season, pet problems, and last-minute show-and-tell projects, you can cheerfully give up your me-time. However, on days when no crisis is looming on the horizon you need to guard your time like a dog and his bone. Don’t bite. Don’t even bark. Just calmly remind your family members to respect whatever you are doing. Parents get to have time to do their own things. With a little practice everyone will get the hang of this concept no matter how radical.
8. Find your rhythm. Once you start taking time for yourself, something magical will happen. Your little respites will become seamlessly incorporated into your family’s natural ebb and flow. And no one will question whether or not you really need that time to yourself because they will notice the difference when you don’t get any.
Reclaim your time and you will reclaim your smile, as well as set a good example for your kids.