By HOLLY WHITE and KARA EBERLE for Smart
The word “mom” doesn’t really come without the word “busy” attached to it.
Between ballet lessons, making lunches, gymnastics classes, midnight feedings, jobs and soccer practice, it’s nearly impossible for moms to find alone time.
“You’re constantly on, and being a mom is mentally and physically challenging,” said Tamara Leaman, mom of three in York.
For mothers with school-age children, “me” time shrinks even more in the summer. So moms need to be creative about finding time for themselves.
“I make the kids have an hour of quiet time — time away from me and each other — every day,” said Mary Cutler, 35, a mother of two who lives in Hopewell Township. “There’s times we know we all need a break.”
Cutler also plans outings and activities for her son, Adam, 9, and daughter, Mya, 6, including vacation Bible school, summer reading programs, picnics and days at the pool.
When Cutler gets time to herself, she peruses Facebook, reads a magazine or spends time with the family’s many animals, which include two pot-bellied pigs, two rats, three cats and a dog.
Finding “me” time is crucial to staying healthy and caring for others. Women who overextend themselves can suffer from depression, anxiety and discomfort with social interactions. Those problems can even lead to separation or divorce, said Kim Griffin, a certified nurse practitioner at Hanover Hospital.
“Being a mom is the most important job in the world, and we need to keep ourselves tuned up so we can take care of ourselves and the future generation,” Griffin said.
So how do moms find time for themselves? There’s no easy answer, but persistence is key.
“I keep a calendar on the fridge and mark things like date night, time for myself and my time with friends without the kids,” said Yvonne Sylvia, who works full time while raising a teenage daughter in Red Lion. When other things come up, reschedule whenever possible, she said.
Leaman recommends taking a bath or shower with the bathroom door locked for 20 minutes. Having a phone conversation with a friend without interruption or reading with a cup of coffee for 15 minutes can provide valuable down time in the middle of the day.
Time for friends and time for spouses or partners is important, too, Griffin said.
No matter what moms do, they should work to find a few moments without responsibility this summer.
Ideas for ‘me’ time
Use online photo tools to create photo books or gifts
Go to a bookstore or coffee shop
Hit up a local concert or event
Go to a home improvement store and dream
Take a hot bath
Go to the park
Take the dog for a walk
Have lunch with a friend
Take a day trip
Take a nap
Get a pedicure, facial or massage
Play or listen to music
How do you find time to yourself? What’s your guilty pleasure? E-mail your response to firstname.lastname@example.org.