I hear it again and again from my clients. They want to find time for self-care and hobbies. They want to do yoga. They want to read for pleasure. They want to pursue creative activities and enjoy some moments of pure leisure again.
But when they get a spare minute – say when naptime comes around or when the baby finally goes to sleep at night – they don’t make time for those things. Instead they tidy up. They tackle chores, get organized for the next day and work tirelessly to cross items off their never-ending to-do list.
What ultimately happens is that these women spend all their time day after day doing what they think they should do instead of what they want to do.
Now I’ve spent A LOT of time in the land of shoulds. So I get that there’s great satisfaction in crossing items off your to-do list and that a clean, tidy house can help you feel accomplished and calm when everything else is feeling pretty chaotic. And I also recognize that there are tasks on your to-do list that absolutely have to get done.
But here’s the thing: if you spend all your time doing what you think you should be doing, it comes at the expense of something else. And for most moms, that something else is their leisure time.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that there is a way to get through your to-do list and still have leisure time. Here’s what you do. First, get out a sheet of paper and write down everything – and I mean everything – that’s on the mental to-do list running through your head.
Then, take an honest look at that list and ask yourself the following questions:
1. Does everything on this list really have to get done or could I let some of these tasks go to create more time for me?
2. What tasks could I automate to save myself more time?
3. Is there anything on this list I could delegate to someone else?
Now take that list and cross out anything that isn’t essential or is something you would willingly let go of to make more time for yourself. Then note which items you could automate to save you time. (For example, you could schedule a diaper delivery or use your bank’s auto-pay option to handle your bills.)
Finally, make a note next to the items you are going to delegate to someone else and give yourself a deadline to hand those tasks off. This might mean you ask your partner to take charge of cleaning the bathrooms starting this week or that you set up an account to have your groceries delivered starting next month.
There will still be some things left on your list that you need to tackle. But by whittling that list down to the essentials, automating some items and asking for help with others, you’ll give yourself the gift of time.
The hard part is convincing yourself to use that time for you.
That’s why I’m also giving you a challenge this week. First, do the exercise above. Then take the valuable time you’ve saved and use it to do one thing for yourself not because you think you should do it but simply because you want to. Maybe you’ll spend 30 minutes reading during naptime. Or you’ll take a yoga class on Saturday morning. Or you’ll enjoy a well-deserved nap.
Whatever it is, I can’t wait to hear what opportunities your newly found leisure time brings you.
P.S. As we head into the holidays, it’s really easy to focus on all the things we should be doing to make this time memorable for our little ones. If you’re feeling the holiday pressure and watching your leisure time slip away, please join me on a free coaching call. We can put a plan in place to get you through this busy season with time for leisure too.