“Make sure you take some time for yourself each day.” This simple piece of advice is given to new and seasoned moms alike by well-meaning friends and family but it is often much easier said than done. Or is it? Amidst changing diapers, wiping noses, cleaning up toys and other… substances… doing laundry, cooking meals, kissing boo-boos, refereeing sibling squabbles and a million other things each day it is easy to lose track of the fact that moms have needs too and that in order to be the best mom (and wife, friend, daughter, employee, etc) it really is important to make sure you carve out at least a few minutes to yourself each day to unwind, de-stress, relax and regroup. But how does one find time? Here are three simple ways you can try to get a few “me” moments each day.
1. Take a foot bath. While a long, relaxing soak in the tub can be absolutely delightful, it loses its charm real fast when you have a baby crying in the background or an older child (or children) clamouring for your attention and assistance. A hot foot bath, perhaps with Epsom salts or essential oils, can really give tired feet and legs a boost and enhance your energy level (and patience!). If you can grab even 5 minutes and do it solo – amazing! If you happen to have an audience, still no problem. Young babies (newborn and a few months old) often love the sound of the running water if you have to take them into the bathroom with you and will fall silent listening to the gurgling water, and older babies and toddlers will love standing beside you at the tub with a bath toy in hand or playing nearby.
2. Create a Discovery Box. No matter how old your child is, an age-appropriate Discovery Box can often distract a child long enough for you to actually drink a coffee while it is still hot or flip through the magazine you got months ago but haven’t been able to touch yet. Discovery boxes (which can be made from anything – a shoe box, an empty diaper box, even a big pot) can be filled with almost any items you have around the house, or you can stock up on small little toys, stickers or other favourite items from the dollar store or toy store to hide in the box. Examples of things you can put in the box to explore for young babies old enough to hold and grasp can include such things as different coloured tissue paper, paper towel rolls, spoons, empty crinkly plastic water bottles, wooden blocks, small baby face clothes or other textiles, and almost anything that makes noise or has an interesting feel or texture. Just make sure, of course, that whatever you include is safe if your wee one ends up putting it in his mouth and won’t become a choking hazard. Older children will love searching for hidden treasures amongst layers of towels, small blankets, or items hidden inside other items. You can even seal the box and make “feely” holes in the sides so that the child has to stick their hand in and feel around in order to find their treasure. Children that are bigger still will even enjoy hunting for their Discovery Box (and the added bonus is that the time it takes them to find the box adds to the time you get to yourself). Just make sure that whatever treasures they find within they can use or play with by themselves at least for a few minutes. (Hint: younger children will want to use every colour play dough available if you hide little play dough containers in the box, but few can open the containers or adequately roll out or cut the dough by themselves, turning it into an exercise in patience for a tired parent wanting to relax).
3. DIY Indoor (or outdoor) water table. Who doesn’t love splashing in water? While Little Tikes or StepOne water tables are fantastic, they are quite pricey if bought new and are less than ideal for indoor use when a wee one wants to play in water (but not a bath!) in the dead of winter. My toddler kept insisting she didn’t mind putting on her snowsuit to go out back and use her water table last winter but this ingenious trick was a lifesaver!!. What works well as a good replacement for an outdoor water fiesta? Do you have a stock pot for “deep sea diving” or a 2 inch deep baking dish? If so, put enough water in it that plastic toy animals, dinosaurs or whatever else thrills your little one can “swim” in the water but not so much that if it gets tipped or too much splashing ensues you will need to take out a second mortgage for repairs due to water damage. You can even put a little bit of dish soap to make it bubbly if that gets them giggling. My wee ones love using their plastic animals in a square baking dish “swimming pool” that I place on a large towel in the middle of the kitchen. They pretend the towel (which is beige) is “sand”, which absorbs the “waves” from any splashes, and I’ll hand them a green hand towel (“grass”) to mop up extra spills. Even wee babes who are old enough to sit up will sit and splash and regale in getting wet and making other things wet, like sponges or scrub brushes. If it’s a sun shiny day you can take the DIY water table/pan/pot or bucket outside for even more fun and either way you get a few minutes to do whatever floats your own boat.