Finding time for yourself can be so hard when you’re a mum. And the more children you have, the less time there is. How on earth do you make time to pursue your own hobbies and interests? This might help…
1. Magic up time from nowhere
You may feel like there is no extra time in your day, but mothers are absolute ninjas at eking out spare chunks of time. Your commute, while the kids are playing independently, all that time spent reading your phone…
The key is to prioritise and compartmentalise. What can you do with the kids around? What do you need absolute peace for? What can you get out of doing altogether?
That last one is the hardest of all – saying NO to things that aren’t your job (your husband’s great uncle’s neighbour’s birthday card is most definitely Not Your Job) is something that a lot of women feel embarrassed or guilty about. Let go of the guilt, it’s not your friend.
2. Hang in there
If you’re at home with teeny children, those magic 15 funded hours of nursery might seem a long way off. But trust me, it will come, and a bit of free time can work wonders for your energy and creativity. My writing mojo lay pretty much dormant until my youngest started nursery. That little bit of head-space every weekday totally woke up my creative brain.
Until then, stuff the housework and make the most of babysitters, evenings and nap times (until the little angel changes the routine with zero notice and you find yourself pushing the buggy around the block for hours on end, your toddler joyfully awake, a thousand-yard stare and a twitch in your eye.)
If you really can’t get away yet online courses, Facebook groups and websites like Mumsnet are the gateway to your new internet BFFs – there’s bound to be a bunch of people with the same passion and bonkers schedule as you.
3. Make it your job
Many women find motherhood changes their whole attitude to work. It’s a hard slog, but it can be possible to turn your passion into a paying job.
I know a mother of six who’s turned a love of amateur boxing into a successful personal training business; a talented but time-poor writer friend couldn’t find the kind of writing retreat that worked for her, so she started one herself.
Even if you only set out to cover your costs, it’s a great way to gain confidence and meet like-minded people.
4. Do it with other people
If you can find just one other person in the same boat kids-wise, who shares your love of medieval re-enactments or roller derby, grab them by the legwarmers and don’t let go.
Regular meet-ups give you motivation, another facet to your parental social life and tons of moral support. It’s so much easier to justify dragging your arse off the sofa of an evening if another human being is expecting you.
Whether your thirst for ultimate frisbee or radical crochet can only be quenched at a certain place with specific equipment, or you can do it anywhere, leaving the house can make all the difference as to whether you actually do it or not.
Cries of ‘Mummy!’ can’t distract you if you can’t hear them (nb. do make sure someone can hear them…) and the washing up can’t call to you with its sticky siren song you if you can’t see it.
Go to a specific place with a specific goal and marvel at your own productiveness.
5. Smash the patriarchy
Easier said than done, but it’s not going to bloody well smash itself.
In what will come as a surprise to precisely zero MOLOs, leisure time isn’t exactly evenly distributed between mothers and fathers. It seems women are ‘leaning in’ so far with jobs and other commitments, we’re toppling over and burning out. Combined with the 40% more housework and childcare women do, and the persistent and historic devaluing and invisibilising of women’s unpaid domestic labour, we’re left with an average of 5 hours less free time per week than our male counterparts.
So what can we do? We can drop the guilt and the bedsheet ironing, insist on our leisure time and protect it like a lioness guarding her babies. Then leave the actual babies at home while we go out and do a bit, or a lot, of what we love.
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Poppy O’Neill kicks writers’ butts for Writers’ HQ which runs procrastination-busting retreats around the UK. Their 5-star rated online courses will take you from idea to publication. Follow Poppy on Twitter
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