Why you need me-time and how to get it 

by Liz Benson

Mothers juggle many roles and some struggle with the feeling that prioritising me-time is selfish

Engaging in things that feed you mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually bring an increased sense of patience and positive attitudes to your relationships and contribute to improving your overall health and happiness. This can have added benefits such as potentially reduce stress and increase productivity. 

Here are five ways to help ensure that me-time stays part of your routine: 

1. Be realistic

Setting realistic outcomes makes routines more likely to stick. For some people, a daily ‘me-time’ routine is workable, for others, once a month feels realistic.  

Don’t just wait until you feel like you really need a break before you schedule itBy the time you’re feeling that way, you may already be running on empty. If you aren’t totally comfortable with me-time at first, fake it until you overcome the guilt and can enjoy it. Your health and the people in your life will thank you for it in the long run. 

2. Book it in and honour it 

Once you’ve committed to a certain amount of me-time, whether that’s one hour per month, or per day, enter it into your calendar. Treat this time like any other commitment in your calendar. You wouldn’t blow off a client call or skip a meeting with your boss, so don’t do the same with your personal time. It’s easy to forgo meetings with yourself, but if you keep doing it, then me-time simply may never happenMake the time non-negotiable. 

If you can’t do what you planned for your me-time activity don’t just surrender the block of time. Use it to do something else for yourself! Go get a facial, write in your journal, or even squeeze in two episodes of your favourite TV show 

3. Be all in

Wherever you are, be all there. Don’t use downtime to stress about a kids school project due tomorrow or running through tomorrow’s work presentation in your head. While those activities are valuable and essential, they don’t count as me-time and won’t give you the same benefits.  

4. Learn that it’s okay to say no 

If your family or friends need you when you’ve scheduled some me-time, consider their requests seriously and say no if it doesn’t work for you. The time you’ve set aside to do the things you need to do is just as important as time set aside for taking the kids to school or talking to your partner. Too often we say yes when we’d rather say no.  

Make a commitment to yourself and practice saying no to other people. If that’s confronting, remember there’s usually a compromise to be found. For example, “I can’t help you with your school project right now but you get started on it, I’ll be back from my walk in one hour and I’ll help you then.” 

5. Me-time doesn’t have to take a long time 

If, like many of us, you feel like every hour of the day is accounted for, making it too hard to carve out time for yourself, consider looking for the short or creative opportunities to do something for yourself. For example, go for a walk around the footy fields while the kids are training.  

Even ifive minutes is all you can manage, you’d be surprised at how much you can make it count. Here are three ways:  

  • Breathe. Really focus on taking deep breaths. Your mind may wander and that’s okay, just gently lead it back from thinking about everything that’s on your to-do list. 
  • Stretch. Get up from your desk and energise your muscles. 
  • Do nothing. Sit quietly. Resist the urge to jump up and clear the table or pick up the kids toys. Let your mind and body rest. 

While it can be hard to switch off and overcome the guilt associated with taking time for yourself, the benefits can be enormous. Peace of mind, lower stress levels, and more headspace to deal with all the responsibilities you’re juggling are just the start.