We are, without a doubt, constantly bombarded with tasks we HAVE to do: the never-ending laundry pile, buying groceries, cooking and baking, cleaning up after both and eating, work tasks, school tasks, parenting tasks, relationship tasks... When was the last time you did something purely because it was what you chose to do at that time? Most weeks, even one of my favorite things to do (swim) has to happen at a particular time even though it isn't when I want to do it because otherwise it won't happen at all. My ‘have to dos’ are piling up.
What can we do to make more time?
1. Say no more. When someone asks you to do something -- be it bake cookies for a bake sale, attend a meeting, or host a dinner party -- do it only if it works for you. This skill -- saying no -- is actually not something that comes easily to most women, especially moms, as we are already accustomed to prioritizing the needs of others over our own (legitimately or not). Practice. It isn’t always your responsibility, and often, we feel compelled to say yes because we think no one else will step up. Consider carefully: will be the end of all things if it doesn’t happen? If no one else does it, and you actually say no, will it be the end of all things? Probably not. Say no when you want and need to.
2. Say yes more. I know, I know. I just said the opposite; this is confusing, right? To clarify: I’m saying to say yes to you, to your own 'me time'. What refuels you? How do you recharge you energy? This is an important 'task' to which you should slate time every day. Do it first thing, and use pen to mark the time. Sure, sure, work and family tasks are important and deserve your time, effort, and attention, but if YOU don't prioritize you, who will? Get a hobby, fall in love with a sport, join a group, buy a book... Just do it. Remember this: if your family and your kids see you not prioritizing you, they will also not prioritize you.
3. Take care of you. Beyond making sure you have time to recharge, take care with your self: eat well, get regular exercise, deal with or remove stressors, stimulate your mind as well as your heart, and remember that you are never too aged to learn a new thing. Don't get complacent. Your mind and your muscles are genetically designed to find homeostasis -- a state of just being -- and without regular change in tasking and stimulation, you can just maintain for ages. But why would you just be when, instead, you can grow and change and develop? Get stronger? Don't just be; rather, challenge yourself. Constantly look for what else you can try or do or learn.
Beyond growth, though, remember that it is your responsibility to take care of your body.This includes fueling it well with sound, nutritious choices. Sure, you can eat cake, but don't let that be the majority of what you put in. Keep your plate colorful (with naturally occurring hues), keep your food as pronounceable and with as little processing as possible, and try to stick with things that Ma Nature grows rather than that what factories have churned out.You get out of your body what you put in.
4. Be true to yourself. This can apply to so many different circumstances. Be honest: did you buy the big bags of chips for you or for the kids? Do you get mad at yourself for finishing the ice cream? Are the goldfish crackers your weakness? Then why do you have these things in the house? Making wise decisions for yourself that so you can keep making smart choices later on. Same goes for exercising, for the people you surround yourself with, the activities you choose to do, and the way you choose to spend your time. If you make decisions regularly that make you regret the consequences, it seems like an easy fix might be to nix the first step in the wrong decision so you don’t have to rue the day later. Ruing takes a lot of energy. Use this negative energy elsewhere.
You can’t escape all of the things you HAVE to do; sadly, there is many a task that is a must-do. But those that you can change, or simplify? Why not? Make time for the things you love to do, and that refuel you. It’ll make getting through the have-tos that much more enjoyable when there’s a get-to on the other side.