Once you’re a mum, it feels like you’re always on call – no matter what age your kids are. There’s no such thing as ‘time off,’ what with providing 24-hour catering and an on-demand laundry service. Not to mention driving the family taxi and dealing with night-terrors. If you do get the chance for some me-time, grab it with both hands. Here are our favourite ways to make the most of it.
Under 30 minutes
1Read a book or magazine
Even 15-20 minutes is time enough to make yourself a coffee and catch up on some reading. Try and find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed – easier said than done, we know. If you can teach your kids always to knock before entering when your bedroom door is closed, that can help.
When our minds are busy, meditation can help quieten that inner noise and make us more aware of our surroundings. There are some great apps available with guided sessions to get you started – Headspace and Calm are our favourites. Both are available on iOS and Android and have a free version, so you can work out which suits you best.
Put on your favourite music and dance around the room. Write in a journal – poetry, random thoughts and observations, a record of your day – it doesn’t matter! Sketch something, such as the view from your window or an object in the house. You don’t have to be good at any of these things to enjoy them.
4Do a crossword
Or sudoku. If you like solving puzzles, this is the perfect way to absorb your brain in something away from your daily routine.
5Watch the world go by
You don’t have to be busy. Sitting by the window and looking at everyone else rushing around can be wonderfully relaxing.
How often do you get to luxuriate in a bath or spend as long as you like in the shower? Use your favourite body products, grab a clean, fluffy towel and take your time.
7Have a nap
Now and then If you don’t and are exhausted, use the time to catch up. Do it properly. Draw the curtains, lie on the bed, and snuggle up under a blanket. Daytime naps feel decadent and are wonderfully refreshing.
8Go for a walk (or a bike ride)
This will depend on where you live, but if you have some countryside or a nearby park you love to explore, get out there. Wrap up if it’s cold, take water with you if it’s warm. Walking in the rain can be exhilarating, too. Breathe deeply and be aware of how it feels to be out in the fresh air. Enjoy being able to focus on your surroundings rather than the kids.
9Catch up on your favourite television programme
How often are you interrupted while watching a show you love? You miss bits, lose the thread of the story, and end up feeling you haven’t followed it. Use your downtime to catch up properly, or to watch an old favourite on Netflix.
10Meet a friend for coffee and cake
There’s nothing like non-stop chatter with a good friend to rejuvenate you. Find a café that serves home-made cakes and good coffee and spend some time catching up on the gossip and each other’s lives. Ban any conversation about the kids – this is grown-up time!
Half a day
11Go out for lunch
A leisurely lunch without feeling you need to rush off afterwards is a rare luxury. (Even more so if you get to do it as a couple.) Choose a restaurant you wouldn’t go with the kids and where you feel comfortable lingering. People-watching is half the fun.
12Enjoy a spa treatment
With so much time at your disposal, you can make the most of the experience. Book a massage or a facial, or perhaps it’s a treat simply to get your nails done properly by someone else.
13Watch a movie
Every now and then it’s good to see a film that isn’t aimed at the kids. Matinee showings are great as they’re usually quieter, and you’ll still be home in time for the bedtime routine. If you can get a friend to join you, great – but we love going on our own, too.
14Go window shopping
How often do you get the chance to browse at will? Visit stores you avoid when you’ve got small children in tow. Try on beautiful designer clothes you’ll never buy. Plan outfits for events you dream of attending. Mentally furnish your dream house with gorgeous homewares.
15Rediscover a lost hobby
I love cooking. But over the years, it turned into a chore – a necessity when I was up against the tyranny of the domestic clock. It wasn’t until I found time to do it properly that I realised how much I missed it. If there’s a hobby you love but have had to neglect amid the chaos of family life, use your me-time to rediscover it. It might be painting, sewing, gardening, handicrafts – it doesn’t matter. Just make a conscious effort to kick-start it afresh.