The average mom gets about 17 minutes of “alone” time per day, according to research. You might think seventeen minutes even seems like a generous number, especially when you’ve locked yourself in the bathroom and your three-year-old is sitting outside the door crying or trying to get in.
Whether you’ve been a mom for two hours or two decades, I’m sure you well know that to make time for yourself isn’t an easy task–especially if you are a mom of younger children.
For me, it’s hard to find time during the school year. As a career mom, my days are spent in the office, and my home time is generally spent in the car running kids around town. It seems there is always a practice or game to go to every night of the week and every weekend.
I know when I’m running out of steam, my whole body and mind longs for a little peace. Don’t feel selfish about taking time for yourself. Here are some ways you can steal away some time, despite your jam-packed calendar.
To an inspirational podcast. To your favorite music (your kids won’t let you listen to). Or to an audio book. With only 17 minutes of alone time, you need to be smart. So whether you drive to and from work or to your kids’ school, use it wisely to help you decompress.
2. Put your feet up:
To spend even five minutes with your feet propped up on a comfy pillow on the couch or even at your desk is a real treat, but it can help you be more productive, too. In fact, if you find time to take short breaks throughout the day it helps overall focus and productivity, according to a University of Illinois study. Idleness can be good for you, providing a chance for you to stand back from life and truly process the day’s events.
3. Take a bath:
Bubbles and soft music = a lot of “aaaah.” Need I say more?
4. Ignite all your senses:
Most likely the view out your kitchen window is screaming, playing kids, rather than majestic mountains or the refreshing ocean waves. So what can you do? Listen to a CD of relaxing music or nature sounds. It can relax your spirit, even if the beautiful scenery is only in your imagination.
5. Sip some tea:
Tea isn’t just for colds or insomnia. Green tea is a great source of L-Theanine. In other words, this tea will put a kibosh on your anxiety.
6. Eat chocolate:
Give yourself permission! Take a few minutes to enjoy a little piece of chocolate goodness. It can go a long way to soothe your mood. In particular, dark chocolate regulates levels of the stress hormone cortisol and steadies your stress level.
7. Count Backwards:
When you need a few seconds to calm down, slowly count up to 10 then back down again. It’ll stop you from freaking out about the kids’ grades or the messy house when you have to think about what number comes before eight.
Simple, right? Well, when you are feeling frazzled it’s easy to forget to take deep cleansing breaths.
9. Close your eyes:
Take a few minutes and give your baby blues a break. Staring at a computer screen all day can really take its toll. It’s almost as good as the power nap. (But don’t fall asleep on the job!)
10. Rub your feet:
While you’re at your desk cranking out a report or at the kitchen table doing fourth-grade math, use a golf ball to give yourself a massage for three to five minutes. Just roll your foot over the ball and voila! Instant foot relaxation.
11. Read a quick inspiring word:
Keep an encouraging book in a convenient place at home or in the car. For me, I keep my Bible near. While you wait for your daughter’s swim class to finish, sit and read something that will motivate and inspire you.
12. Brush your hair:
This is part of your daily routine, so you don’t need any extra time. Just do a few extra brush strokes. Repetitive motions are known to relieve stress.
13. Drip cold water:
Steal away from your cubicle or the toddler for just 30 seconds. Go to the restroom and drip cold water on your wrists and earlobes. You’ll stimulate major arteries underneath the skin in these areas, calming the whole body.
14. Look out the window:
If you can’t get away, take a five-minute break to do nothing but stare out the window. Daydream or just admire the trees outside.
15. Breathe a prayer or two:
“Breath prayers” can be said in one breath. Take a walk for a minute – outside while the kids are occupied – or down your aisle at work. Just utter a simple straightforward prayer to center yourself.
16. Be alone:
Ask your husband or teenager to watch your younger children for just five minutes or so. Lock yourself in the bedroom or bathroom and just enjoy the quiet (while it lasts).
17. Find the sun:
Grab your favorite lounge chair and a book and soak up some rays. Vitamin D always does a body good (along with good sunscreen, of course.)
So go ahead and try a few of these things today.
What would you like to do with your 17 minutes?