Considering becoming a parent someday? Few skills are more important to master in preparation for parenthood than effective time management! In parenthood, you’ll learn quickly that without skills in time management, there’s zero room for the self care required to survive. And if there is ever a time in history when self care is at maximum importance, it’s now.
We all learned valuable lessons about time management and prioritizing time to care for ourselves these past couple of years, thanks of course to the Coronavirus pandemic. Those of us who work outside the home and suddenly had to work inside the home had to learn quickly how to get everything done with a whole new routine. Laundry, dishes, house cleaning and meals still needed to happen while work seemed to pile up.
For many working moms, time management during the pandemic went from difficult to seemingly impossible. We watched as working moms left the workforce in droves when schools and daycares shut down and those who held out were expected to work normal hours, home school kids, manage the household, and do “their part” in navigating a global pandemic.
While we all know self care is important, and need it desperately, it’s hard to stick to a self care plan that constantly refreshes us. That’s why we’re sharing a strategy that will help you not only stick to selfcare, but make it a priority that rejuvenates your personal and work life.
Determine how you recharge.
Not everyone enjoys the same self care activities. While some working moms may enjoy a spa day, other moms may want to get her hands dirty and work in the garden or take a pottery class. Don’t force yourself to do “self care” that isn’t right for you. Think about the activities you love and how you feel afterwards. If the activity makes you happy, rejuvenates your body, and clears your mind - then it’s probably a great self care activity for you!
Schedule time in your calendar for you.
All working moms are busy, busy, busy. But we seem to make time for things when it’s in our calendar. Use your organization and commitment to your calendar work for your self care routine as well. Set a time on your phone or computer for whatever self care activity you choose and don’t cancel. You can also set up multiple pre-meeting alerts to remind yourself. I’ve even gone as far as setting reminders in my phone itself that share a message from me, like, “Hey! It’s almost self care time. Wrap up what you are doing and don’t miss it!”
Set one or two self care goals.
Setting a goal and getting formal with self care might make it seem too...business-like. But just like in business, setting a goal will help you reach it! Here are a couple of examples of self care goals:
In the next month, I will schedule one self care activity a week. I will set aside 15 minutes a day to turn off all technology, find a quiet spot, and read a fun book.
Get an accountability buddy.
When you want to reach your goals, you tap a person you trust to hold you accountable. This proven tactic can work for self care success as well. The best accountability buddy is someone who has a similar self goal so that you can monitor each other’s progress and encourage one another empathetically.
Observe how self care affects your life and work.
After you’ve decided what you will try as your self care activities, set goals, schedule the activities in your calendar, and find an accountability buddy, it’s time to pay attention. What you think will work may not. What you don’t think will work, may be the key you’ve been looking for. After your self care activities, take note of how you feel. Maybe you need to try a different activity, or you may just need to make tweaks to your schedule. For example, 15 minute quiet time first thing in the morning may not be feasible if you have young kids, so doing it over your lunch break may work better.
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Anna McKay is a return to work and leadership coach and founder of Parents Pivot, a coaching company that supports parents through pivotal career transitions. Whether you are returning to paid work after a career pause, returning from parental leave, or managing career or leadership transitions as a working parent, we help you navigate these transitions with strength and clarity.