Parents: Making time for yourself

How to take time for yourself in a frantic and overwhelming world without feeling guilty for doing so.

The kids are back at school, you’re back at work, it’s almost as if Coronavirus never happened as the usual chores, errand and to-do lists begin to pile up again. On the 21st of August BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour discussed the importance of making time for yourself and learning to say “No”. We summarise the key points from the discussion and give some of our own tips on finding time to take care of yourself as a parent.

Listen to the Woman’s Hour episode here, the relevant discussion with Deborah Joseph (Editor-in-Chief of GLAMOUR), Celia Dodd (journalist and author) and Louise Pentland (social media influencer) begins at the 26:35 mark.

  • Consciously decide to drop some balls. Deborah Joseph, editor of GLAMOUR Magazine, actively advocates deliberately letting some things slide which aren’t your top priority. She now lives by the 70% rule, doing her best for 70% of the things in her life which are most important to her and letting other, less important things slide. Tip: Work out your priorities. Think about all the things you give your energy to and which of these are causing more mental stress than they are worth. For example, are the dinner parties you host for 15-20 people every Friday really worth it? Or would your life be less stressful if you hosted them less often?
  • Make lists. Louise Pentland, mother and online influencer, swears by lists to help her keep on top of everything. In her own words, by writing things down she can feel more in control and it stops everything from “swirling around in her head”. Tip: lists work particularly well if you organise your tasks by priority, aim for the top half of your list to be tasks you need to do and the bottom half to be things you would like to do but aren’t strictly necessary.
  • Schedule time for yourself. Deliberately block out time for yourself in the way that you would for a doctor’s appointment or a meal out with friends, in that time do something that you enjoy and that gives you time to think.

Tip: physically mark out time in your diary that you can spend by yourself, whether it be having a bath, going to an exercise class, meeting up with a friend or going for a walk.

  • Reject the “failure isn’t an option” mentality. You don’t always have to give your best or do your best 100% of the time. Tip: Lower your expectations of what you can achieve in a day, a week or a month and be grateful for what you have done rather than always pushing for more. Celebrate the small wins.
  • Build up a support network. Whether your support network is a partner, friends, family or neighbours and don’t be afraid to ask them for help
  • Outsource what you can. If you are financially able and if it makes your life easier and more enjoyable then why not hire a cleaner or an After School Nanny? The money you spend on these services is 100% worth it if it makes your life more enjoyable and gives you more time to do what you love.
  • Don’t put yourself under so much pressure. Nowadays there’s so much pressure from social media and society in general to live the “perfect” life, to raise your children immaculately, to look photoshoot-ready all the time and to have the most successful, high-flying career. Get comfortable with the imperfect. Real life is messy, raw and far more enjoyable than everything being “perfect” all the time.

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