As a single parent, it can be hard to find – or to justify finding – time for myself. Being self employed adds another layer to that because whenever I do have some down time, there are always at least fifty things I could or should be doing for my business.
I’ve learned from experience though that I do need to schedule in time for myself from time to time. I learned this well before I was even pregnant, and it’s something I’ve tried to stick to – even if it’s just half an hour in a cafe with a good book. When I was pregnant I actually quite enjoyed going to baby shows as I could make out that I was actually doing important shopping/research for the arrival of my baby, but what I was actually doing was having a nice wander around a big room where nobody knew me and I didn’t have to get drawn into conversation if I didn’t want to. That probably makes me a typical introvert, but there we go.
Now that I have S, and she’s five, baby shows are no longer the practical option, and nor are they of use. Instead of taking days or weekends out, I find other things I can do to allow my brain proper down time. Here are my current favourites:
- Reading. I’m a massive, massive reader. I always have been, but now it’s become a real luxury to me. I buy loads of books every month, and also read a lot on my Kindle. As well as this, I accept books to review on this site. There is a pile of books in every room in the house, and I read whenever I can.
- Coffee time. S and I have an agreement that the time it takes me to drink my coffee in the mornings is mine alone. She is welcome to stay in the room with me, but she must be quiet while I caffeinate! Actually, since I started drinking my coffee the Bulletproof way (with added butter and oil – tastes way better than it sounds), I wait until after the school run to make my coffee. It’s a process that involves brewing the coffee and then blasting it in the blender to mix the butter and oil in. This longer process gives me the excuse to pause for a few minutes and just be without feeling the need to also do. Then, when my coffee is made I take it to the table or my desk, and really allow myself to savour it. Now that the weather is better and we have garden furniture, I’ll sometimes go and sit outside to drink it – so that I’m nowhere near the distractions of my laptop or bullet journal. A brilliant, calming start to my day.
- Public transport. As a blogger, I am luckily to sometimes be invited to events and shows. Since I live in a relative backwater and don’t drive, this usually means a trip on public transport. Back when I used to commute down to the south coast for a radio gig every Friday, spending 2 hours on public transport would frustrate me and I spent the time planning in a notebook. Now, I read or just listen to music and look out the window. It’s time just for me.
- Massage. As a self-employed single parent, I’m not exactly drowning in cash here. But I spend several hours a day hunched over a desk, and after an incident a couple of years ago which saw me practically crippled from bending over to pick up a book, I try to get a massage whenever I can. For birthday or Christmas gifts I’ll ask for massage vouchers, and just recently a lovely friend actually paid for me to have a massage from a local lady who’s just starting out in business. I don’t smoke or drink, and rarely go out in the evenings, so I do things like this instead. If the price of a massage seems a bit steep for you, check out your local colleges, training centres or spas; anywhere that offers courses or apprenticeships in massage will need volunteers for people to practice on before they gain their qualifications.
- The school run. S and I walk to school every morning; it takes us around 20 minutes. If I have a lot of work on, I’ll usually walk quickly back down the hill to my desk – but at least once a week, I try to make it a slow walk, perhaps even with a detour or two thrown in. I’m lucky that we live in a beautiful area with lots of green space so I try to make the most of it. I used to bring along headphones and listen to business podcasts or Audible books on work-related topics as I walked, but I’ve stopped doing that now and prefer to allow myself that time to just walk and appreciate the world around me.
It can be hard to find time for oneself as a single parent, but it’s important to remember that “me time” doesn’t need to mean “three days at a spa in Berkshire” – you can grab it in small doses, here and there. The trick is to prioritise your own wellbeing, and to stick to your guns about taking time off being “mum” to be yourself for an hour here and there.