"Me Time" for Working Moms !
Hello my dear listener! How are you doing today? I hope you are having a great day. Thank you so much for joining me today. I can’t express how great it feels to record a solo episode after a long time. Although I love to record interview episodes, recording solo and just letting my thoughts flow is just at another level. After a long time, I again woke up early and sat in my favorite spot, pulled out my notebook and poured my heart out to create a solo episode. It was the morning after the thunderstorm and it was still cloudy. I love this cloudy and gloomy weather. I know, weird? right? But this is my favorite kind of weather. Have you seen Gilmore Girls? Do you remember how Lorelai says,” I smell snow” In the exact same way, I say ,”I smell rain” and it brings so much joy and happiness to me. Alright, looks like I am as usual in a chatty mood and this is going to be a long episode. But being the first solo episode after one year anniversary, I have decided many new parameters for this podcast and keeping the episode short and sweet is one of them, so let me get straight to the point.
What is "ME Time"?
“Me time”, is it some fancy concept? Our mom, her mom never ever said anything about me time, then suddenly, why is our generation talking about me time in every third sentence? Could it be because life was less stressful? Neah. Could it be because they were better equipped to handle the stress? Maybe. Or were they simply not aware of “me time” as a necessary breathing space? Possible, right? IS it some kind of a buzzword, created by the media to mislead us? Don’t think so.. But to tell you the truth, even though no one from previous generations ever talked about “Me time”, I have seen so many examples around me of those women who pursued some hobby, something outside their daily schedule. I always found them happier, more relaxed and more content with themselves. So, they also had a way to enjoy “Me time”, may through knitting, reading, singing or any other hobbies. They might not have named it as “Me time” but it definitely made them happier.
Then, what is the “Me time”? And what all this hype about “Me time”? To be very honest, it could be totally different to every person. But I think it is a little time squeezed every day to work on something that you absolutely love, the little time kept aside every single day to refresh and recharge your mind, body and soul. It could be a full day of spa for someone, or for someone, it could be listening to their favorite music while driving to work. Activities that you choose to do in your “Me time” could be different for everyone. But the idea behind it remains the same. It is the little time spent everyday that boosts your mood and reduces your stress levels.
There was a survey conducted a few months back asking working women when was the last time they had “Me time” and more than 50% of the women said not in the last 6 months. That was heartbreaking. I understand that because of working from home due to this pandemic, it has become very hard to find the “Me time”. The effects of this pandemic are far-reaching. Stress and anxiety have skyrocketed. You are always running to fulfill different responsibilities of being a working professional, being a mom, being a homemaker and the wheel of responsibilities never stop turning. I totally get it and I have experienced it first hand. I feel as if I am running and switching my hats continuously and that too with added pressure of not dropping my hat even a single time because, that is considered as a failure. Sometimes, the culture at your office is to come in early and stay late, you’ll feel like everyone’s sneering behind your back as you walk out the door at 5 p.m. There are chances that nobody really noticed but you feel guilty to walk out the door when your entire team is still working. There are chances that you might login back once your kids are fed and are in bed and you spend your night again working.
You wake in the morning, somehow manage the cooking, get the kids ready. It is summer break here now, so there is a whole new equation of schedule and guilt, but more about that in the next episode. But you basically perform all your duties as the homemaker and without even having any breathing space you just login to your work. Then, meetings after meetings, calls after calls, work work work. The whole day is gone working but the moment you finish your work, you are running to take your kids to activities, or cook dinner or perform any other chore from your mile long to-do list. By the time day ends and kids are in bed, you are so exhausted that you don’t have time and energy even to think about “Me time”. Right? But then you decide in your mind, tomorrow will be better, I will at least take a morning walk, or call your friend who you have not talked to in months. You decide to have a better day, a day where you are not rushing everywhere, just checking the checkboxes of tasks done but the next day brings new set of challenges, you wake up late or the baby kept you awake since midnight or the moment you wake up, you check your emails and there is ton to do, your kids are asking for a playdate, your groceries need to be refilled and the list gets longer and longer, where is any time of “Me time” right? Isn’t this a vicious circle? Is there any way to get out of it or at least spin a little slower? I understand, it is difficult, seems really impossible, but I guarantee you there is a way out. You just have to look for it. In this moment, you might feel defeated, you might feel stuck, you might feel there is no way to get out of this but trust me there is a way and I am here to help you because trust me I was and to the extent am stuck in same vicious circle and I am working on myself every single day to find the ways to make it more pleasant. Even in these stressful times, it is important that we take time and care for ourselves. Whether you have a packed work-from-home schedule, or busy with household work, or simply trying to continue with mundane tasks, take time out of your day, look after yourself, and take care.
Let the guilt go !
First of all, tell yourself that it is okay to have “Me time”. It is okay to make some changes to find some “Me time”. It is okay to take a break for some time, from the life that is running at the speed of light and you have been catching up on it with all your might. It is okay to tell life that you exist and need a little breather. Don’t feel guilty about relaxing, making time for yourself. Don’t feel defeated just because you are prioritizing yourself over work, over kids, over family just for some time. It does not mean you are selfish. It is so important to take time for yourself and find clarity. The most important relationship is the one you have with yourself. Always, remember, you can not pour from an empty cup.
One at a time
“One at a time” is my mantra these days. Spend some time today and find what is the one thing that really brings you joy, that makes you feel accomplished, makes you feel relaxed. Find that one thing and one thing only. Don’t make a long list. Because, even though that sounds lucrative on paper to go for a walk in the morning, then ride a bike with kids in the evening, bingle watch episodes of your favorite show with your partner, let’s face it you can not do it all in a single day, considering the things that you already have in your plate. So, find one thing. One thing that makes you happy and not something you have to do but rather something that you love to do. For me it is writing in the morning, that is my happiest place. It could be something else for you and make sure that thing involves only you, no dependency, no activity or chore for someone else. Alright, are you with me ? Don’t think about how you will take time out to do this ? It is not possible and all those negative emotions. Just find that activity for now. Okay, done? If you want to pause for a few minutes, that is okay too but I want you to proceed further in the episode only after you have determined the one thing that is your “Me time” activity. Alright, ready?
What's your "Won't dos"?
Have you heard of the MoSCoW method of prioritization? You might have used it at your work. Let’s apply it to our daily schedule. MoSCoW method of prioritization is used to decide which are the priority user stores, or requirements that need to be included in a product during a certain release. It stands for Must do, Should do, Could do, and Won’t do. You group all the requirements in one of these four categories. Let’s apply the same thing to our daily schedule. As we already established, your day is already too busy to even think about “Me time” so how will you include the one thing that you love so much in your daily schedule. Right? Your glass is already full, if you pour even a drop of water into that glass, it will not stay, instead it will just spill over. So, what to do? We have to make some space right? But how? That is where this MoSCoW technique comes into the picture. Try to think of all the items from your to-do list. What are the items which are Must do, what are should dos, what are could do and what are won’t do? After a long struggle, I have finally realized that as a working mom, you can have it all but not at the same time. This has become my go to mantra that I repeat every day just to reassure myself when in doubt. So, in order to find some “Me time”, you need to find some items from your to-do list that fall into the Won’t do bucket. It could be small like instead of cooking fresh twice a day, lunch is leftovers from the night or only one freshly cooked dish and rest from the leftovers for the lunch or instead of mopping and vacuuming floors everyday, doing it twice a week or instead of binge watching Netflix and making yourself miserable in the morning, picking up that book which brings you joy or folding the laundry together as a family to save some time, or something, that you can let go. You have to find your “won't do” bucket items for you and your family based on the needs of your family. Once you find it, don’t fill that room immediately with another chore. Instead keep that space open, let your schedule breathe a little.
Once you are comfortable, use that opened up time for your “Me time” activity. If you are extremely busy and even though taking a yoga class at your local gym seems like the best “Me time” idea but your schedule doesn’t allow you to do that then do some yoga at home in the time that you have now found by freeing some of your “won’t do” items. If you are able to free up time that allows you to take the class, then more power to you, go ahead and take the class. One thing that I would like to mention here is take one day at a time. We generally have a habit of thinking of the future. You had a fantastic Yoga session today but during that class, you keep on thinking if you will be able to make the time for this same class tomorrow. Enjoy the moment at hand and don’t worry about the next day. If you have used this MoSCoW technique, you will find it but for any reason you don’t then give yourself grace and try the next day. It is all about self care, “Me time” is all about self care and not self discipline. Convince your mind that having a “Me time” is not selfish, it is not something to be ashamed of. It means you are good at managing your time and you are good at taking care of not only others but your own self. It is your duty and your right towards your own self to break from the grind, clear your mind and enjoy some “Me Time”