People often say being a parent is a full-time job. Raising and caring for a child is definitely a lot to handle, and on top of all those responsibilities, working moms spend another 40 hours on the clock!
Seriously. Surveys have found that between home and work life, working mothers typically log 14-hour days — for an average of 98 "working" hours a week. Between conference calls, soccer games, day-to-day errands and bedtime stories, it might seem like you have no time to prioritize self-care. That's far from true! It's entirely possible — not to mention super important — to sneak some "me time" in your hectic schedule.
Even if you're always on the go, try these strategies to find a free moment for relaxation and self-love. Remember, you deserve it!
Take a self-care lunch break
What does your typical lunch break look like? Do you answer emails, plan schedules and finish tasks while wolfing down a sandwich? That's not a break at all!
Lunchtime is the perfect time to hit pause in the middle of your day and indulge in a little self-care. Even if you just have 30 minutes, it's still a chunk of unscheduled time, so treat yourself to some sushi and eat it in the park (bonus points if you spend a few minutes journaling)! Or maybe you grab a smoothie and get a pedicure. Whatever feels right to you.
Embrace time-saving services
Turns out, it is possible to buy time — and doing so can come with extra benefits. A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that outsourcing simple tasks promotes happiness.
While there's no store that sells a few extra hours of sleep, you can invest in time-saving services to reclaim a sliver of your day. Even taking just one thing off your mind, like having a maid come to tidy up your house or purchasing meal kit deliveries so you don't have to go grocery shopping, can free up enough time to let you do something for yourself.
"Contemplating paying somebody else to do something you're perfectly capable of doing yourself may provoke feelings of guilt," Elizabeth Dunn, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia, told NPR. However, if it will make you happier in the long run and give you time to breathe, it's money well spent!
Create before you consume
When most people finally finish all their chores for the today, they plop down onto the couch to watch TV or scroll through their phone. Sometimes all you want to do is get lost in a guilty pleasure — and that's fine.
But next time you feel this urge, think about trying activities that might be more satisfying than staring at a screen, such as doodling in a sketchbook or sculpting a figurine out of modeling clay. There's something really cool about having a physical result that represents the time you put into it.
Readjust your family roles
Working moms often feel responsible for taking care of the whole family, but the relationship should go both ways! If you feel like there are too many tasks to keep up with, enlist your kids' help.
"If we're feeling like we have to keep our child happy and fulfill their every desire and ride the waves of their emotions, all of those things are not going to allow us to have self-care," parent educator and author Janet Lansbury explained to USA Today. "My focus with parents is helping them to see their child as a whole person, so you can be in an actual relationship with them where it's not you just servicing them all the time."
Even at a young age, children can help with household chores like folding clothes, making lunches and walking the dog. It's good for them to learn these skills, and even if they don't do them perfectly, it will allow you to divvy up the chores on your to-do list and free up a little time in your day.
When everyone is finished, you may even have the opportunity to enjoy a relaxing activity together as a family. And there's nothing better than that.
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