Making time for Mama

Mothers have a reputation of living their lives for other people. 

Indeed, I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that for me, as a kindergarten teacher-mother of four, I could spend every waking hour doing something productive that involves some sort of service to others, whether that’s cooking family meals, doing laundry, transporting children or helping with homework — the list could go on and on!

But, speaking as someone with experience — and as one who has survived more than one mama-meltdown in her life — constant caregiving just isn’t sustainable. 

I know that to be the kind of mother, wife, teacher and friend I want to be, I need to take care of myself, not just other people. Making time for mama time each day is a great place to start.

For those of us who struggle with taking care of ourselves, finding the time — or making the time — can be the biggest challenge. 

A majority (85.7 percent) of Minnesota mamas get fewer than 60 minutes to themselves each day — and of those a quarter get fewer than 15 minutes (26.2 percent), according to a recent Minnesota Parent reader survey. Some mothers reported getting more than 60 minutes a day (14.3 percent).

To all of the time-challenged mamas out there, struggling to make some mama “me time” happen each day, consider these ideas:

Find something you like to do. 

Take up a hobby or interest that helps you recharge your batteries, something that makes you feel good and nurtures your own well-being. 

Convince yourself that you deserve this time by articulating it to those around you. You could say, for example, “Mama is going to go for a half-hour run so she can be strong and healthy,” or “Mom’s going to talk on the phone for a while so she can have some fun and happy grown-up conversation with a good friend.” 

Be mindful of time.

Why does it seem like some people have superpowers and are able to get so much more accomplished on any given day than others? The answer lies in time management. The fact is that while we all have 24 hours to work with each day, some people manage their time better than others. 

Be mindful of your time. Are you wasting precious minutes — maybe even hours — mindlessly surfing the Internet or scrolling Facebook, Twitter or Instagram when you’d really rather being doing something else? 

Work to control mindless habits.

Schedule it.

Make time. But how? I recently listened to the 24-minute audio book Time Management Made Easy for Busy Moms. The author, Carin Kilby Clark, suggests moms create a plan to devote a longer chunk of time (at least an hour) each month to do something for themselves.

Work with your spouse/partner, family members, friends or a child-care provider to help you free up this time. I’ve swapped out child-care/playdate arrangements with some of my friends, and it’s helped me carve out some personal time.

Set boundaries.

Honor and take care of yourself by setting limits around your time. It’s OK (and realistic) to expect school-age children to learn and understand simple things — like it’s important to let Mom take a shower, go to the bathroom or talk on the phone without being interrupted multiple times. 

When we hold firm — by following through with consistent expectations — we can create these mini breaks throughout the day. 

What do you want to do?

What do local moms wish they could do in their free time? Here are their top picks, in order of popularity, according to our recent survey: Read, exercise, watch TV/movies, enjoy hobbies (knitting, photography, gardening, sewing, crafts, baking), shop/run errands solo, get together with friends, check social media, take a shower or bath, sit in silence, nap, go to a spa or get a massage.

Sound familiar? Sound amazing? 

Are you inspired yet?

You can take these ideas and make them your reality. (OK, you might not be able to make all of them happen in one month, but you have to start somewhere!)

Megan Devine is an elementary school teacher who lives with her husband and four children in Northeastern Minnesota. She blogs at