Everyone has different roles in their lives. Each role is a different part of who we are and some are more important than others. For me, being a mom is one of my most important roles. My children give me a great sense of purpose. I wake up each day ready take care of them and give them everything that I can.
When my first daughter was born, I didn't do much more other than take care of her. I didn't think I could find the time to do things for me. Today I have two toddlers and yet I find time to read, write, exercise, stay in touch with friends, and run a part time business from home.
Many mothers tell me that they feel selfish when they do things for themselves. I completely understand that feeling. It's easy to think that our children should have 100% of our attention. I'm not going to try to convince you otherwise on that issue. But I do want you to realize the importance of your own physical and mental health.
If you can't see the value in doing something for yourself, then think about the fact that everything that you do for you is also for them. Your children deserve the best version of you that you can give them, don't they? Don't they deserve a healthy, energetic mom who feels great about herself? A mom who is reaching for some of her own dreams (whatever that dream might be)? Don't they deserve a mom who takes the time to do the things she loves, so that she doesn't become angry and impatient with them? Don't they deserve a mom who shows them what it means to take care of yourself? Don't they deserve a mom who is also a person becoming everything that she's created to be while she is raising them to be everything they are created to be?
If you are a Christian like me, you probably also know that it's important to spend time doing daily activities that strengthen your relationship with God. You live the example. Be who you want them to be. This doesn't mean that they will follow directly in your footsteps, because they may have different interests and talents. But be the kind of person that you hope they will become. Don't settle for less than the best for yourself and they'll see that they shouldn't either.
So, how do we find the time to do all this?
Personally, I believe that children flourish will a little bit of play time to themselves. I allow my girls to play together or alone with me nearby but not involved. This arrangement is great for all of us, because they get some valuable "alone time" of their own. For more on this, check out this article:
If you are unwilling to give up time with your children while they are awake, try waking up an hour earlier (see my post "How (and Why) I Became a Morning Person" for help with this). Or you can stay up a little after you put the kids to bed and have your "you" time. If that isn't an option, I would find some way to involve them in activities that you want to do for you. Often, if I'm writing while my children are awake, I set them up at the table next to me and let them color. They feel like we are doing something together and I am still nearby to "oooh" and "ahhh" at their pretty pictures. I also let my 2 year old "work out" with me, which is sometimes hilarious and sometimes a complete pain, but I know that doing something is better than doing nothing, even if I have to modify moves around her. There are endless creative ways to incorporate your children into activities that are important for you to do.
Start by making a small change. What is one activity that could greatly affect your quality of life if you made the time to do it regularly? Exercising? Reading? Painting? Working online? Just having some silent time to think by yourself? Pick one and make it a priority. You can do it!
"If something is important to you, you'll find a way.
If it's not, you'll find an excuse."