If you’re reading this magazine you’re likely familiar with the overwhelming urge to claim those precious five minutes to yourself when no one needs you or whimpers for your attention!
If your little bundle of joy is anything like mine they will often have the innate knack for needing something ‘’right this minute’’ at your most exhaustive point in the day. So the next time you have your young ones underfoot and your role of mommy gets you so overwhelmed, take a breath and read over the following suggestions for a taking a five-minute escape:
Covet Thy Play-Doh
When my son was two years old, he was totally into play-doh. He’d would sit there quietly rolling, tearing and shaping his creation then moments later thoroughly enjoying smashing his creation, just to start all over.
I’d generally take the opportunity to sit near him on the couch and put my feet up for those glorious few minutes when he was completely engaged in his activity. So figure out what your child absolutely loves to do – books, paints, cars, blocks – and pull it out whenever you need to take a break. Flip through a magazine or just close your eyes and take refreshing deep breaths.
Put Your Hobbies First (and figure out how the kids can join in)
It used to drive me crazy when I first read parenting magazines stressing that it was essential that I put “myself” first. As a mom to three kids under five, I didn’t agree with the premise that I should regularly schedule time away from the kids.
As I see it, my kids are young for a brief duration and my time alone will come again all too quickly I’m sure. I am living proof that a mom can enjoy hobbies with the kids tagging along. My love for baking has now become a family hobby. When life starts to get too crazy, I grab the kids and head to the kitchen to whisk away any stress.
The baby gets novelty kitchen tools on the floor and the big kids get to break eggs and lick the beaters. We all end up a bit messy though my kids are learning a valuable skill and I get to do something I enjoy. Best part of all are all the yummy goodies we all get to eat!
Lock The Door
Yes. You read it right. Lock the door. When my friend Emily, who is a mom of two, needs five minutes she heads to the bathroom and not only shuts the door but locks it.
When she really needs a chunk of time to herself she says “I lock myself in seclusion, relaxing in a hot bubble bath with a book and my husband knows he’s on kid duty.”;)
The Almighty TV
Of course, you knew it would be on this list! TV gets a bad rap but it isn’t really the enemy. In fact, it can be a very good and loyal friend. Thanks to a little bit of TV, I have more time to concentrate on making a hearty homemade dinner instead of frantically whipping something together for the third day in a row. The TV in my house can be the difference between grilled cheese and fries or salad with roast chicken.
There is no denying that, in moderation, TV can be exactly the avenue you need to get a few minutes to yourself; or for doing something around the house – like making a healthy dinner.
After school my son needs a few minutes to himself to wind down. So thirty minutes of his favourite show gives me time to focus where I need to and as an added bonus, it gives my son a break before he tackles the rest of his day. Of course the program he watches is educational and usually gives us talking points during the family meal.
Sweat It Out
The physical, emotional and mental benefits of physical exercise are undeniable. The next time you want to spend a few minutes focusing on yourself, try incorporating exercise into the equation. The easiest way is to throw on a pair of sneakers; grab a stroller or carrier and head outside for a walk. If it is raining, considering hitting the mall. A quick stroll will clear your mind and give your heart a healthy boost. If exercise is a priority, join a gym with daycare.
You’ll get more than five minutes to take care of you. According to my friend Tanya, who is mother of four and regular gym rat, “The added bonus is after I work out, I get to shower all by myself without anyone on the other side of the curtain. Bonus!”
Positive Parenting thought leader Dr. Louise Hart reminds us that the most important thing we can give our children is our time.Her recommendation gets my vote although I believe prioritizing five minutes for self care isn’t going to hurt either!
So, regardless of how you get your five-minute escape, remember that it is important as parents that we figure out how to regularly carve out those cherished few minutes to get recharged and refreshed.
Christina lives in Burnaby with her three kids ages four, two and two months. You can find them huddled in the library pouring over the latest books or traversing the local trails, behind their Burnaby home.