By Aviva Patz
Ballet, piano, French lessons, soccer practice. You and your child have
dozens of fun-sounding classes to choose from, but how do you know which
activity to choose and when to start? And how do you know if you're pushing
your kid too hard? "What's most important is simply exposing kids to a
variety of activities so that they'll discover what they like and are good
at," says Ellen Booth Church, a Key West, FL-based former teacher and
author of Everything You Always Wanted...
You may think "it's all about me" is selfish. But consider this: Other people benefit from your "me time," too. Do things that feed you mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, and you'll bring greater patience and a more positive attitude to your relationships. You’ll become a better parent, spouse, and a more effective team player at work.
Take a page from your calendar, literally. Every week, look at your calendar and book some me time.
Can't find an hour to devote to yourself? Even 5-15 minutes can work, if you stick to it.
Don't use the time to fold laundry or catch up on email. It may even seem more stressful at first to leave things undone, but you'll have more energy if you take a little time off.
Where to find the time?
Take advantage of the kids' reading or nap time.
Get up 10 minutes earlier.
Ask your kids (and spouse) to do the dishes.
Turn off the smartphone.
Claim a Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon for yourself, even if that means adjusting your family’s schedule.
If 5 minutes is all you've got, you'd be surprised at how much you can make it count.
Just breathe. Really focus on taking deep breaths. Your mind may wander -- that's OK, just gently lead it back from thinking about everything that's on your to-do list.
Stretch. Get up from your desk and energize 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.
A Few Minutes More
At least once a month, carve out a little more time for yourself -- say 30 minutes to an hour. Get a pedicure. Or a facial. Go somewhere you've never been (a certain museum or a walking trail, perhaps). Write down your dreams and goals in a journal.
Say No, Gracefully
You don’t have to tell your friends and family what you’re doing. But if their demands cut into your time, it's okay to create a buffer.
Tell them you can help but that you need a quick 20 minutes (or whatever amount of time feels right) before you can do it.
Stick to It
Unless it’s crucial, don’t cancel me time. It’s tempting and easy to forgo this time. But if you do it too often, you won't have any me time left!
Stick up for yourself, and you'll find it pays off for those around you, too. You'll be happier and more able to help them.