When you’re a new mom, there is often a biological urge to forget about yourself completely and devote every ounce of your energy to your new love or loves! As time goes on you either start making time for yourself again or you stay in that same frame of one hundred percent devoted energy to your children. I don’t think it’s healthy to completely lose yourself to the point of neglecting your own basic needs. When I am finally able to take some time for myself, it doesn’t matter what I do, as long as I have the time to myself. How important, to just have a few thoughts to myself. Sometimes I’ll meditate in the yard or just look something up that I’m interested in. A yoga class or an outing, even just to run an errand, is a treat and I try to enjoy the solo time when I get the chance. When I drive without the kids, I play my favorite Jazz station and take my time, just letting my mind finally have a chance to wander.
Here are a few of the ways I’ve learned how to make time for myself with four young kiddos:
Independent Playtime- I started making independent playtime part of our regular routine, when the first two were about nine months old. I make sure this is a positive, fun and safe experience that help the kids gain independence and confidence in themselves. When they were very young, I surrounded them with their favorite toys, played fun music and cheerfully told them, “I’ll be right back”. I started with only a few minutes at a time and as they grew more confident with me out of their sight, I would add a minute or two, building their independent playtime stamina. While away, I would order groceries, change the laundry, sit and have a breather, whatever I needed. I always listen carefully and make sure their room is completely baby proofed. Sometimes during independent playtime, especially when they are very young, I listen or watch through the monitor if necessary. Now that they are four and two, all four are completely happy having independent playtime on their own or together, while I get a little done around the house. When I come back, most of the time everyone is fresh and in good spirits from the little down time and break.
Grandparent Play Dates- It has been so wonderful to have Adam’s parents or mine take the kids on a weekly basis for a few hours so I can have time to take care of things and honestly, catch my breath. If grandparents aren’t an option, a sitter or nanny will do!
Relaxing Evenings- We make sure all of the chores are done before the kids go to sleep so we can relax and recover after they go down! One of our routines that really helps with this, is the way we do bedtime. I sing and rock one baby to sleep at a time while the kids play with Adam. When I sing and rock the second baby to sleep, Adam reads the first book to the bigs. When I come out, I read the second book to the bigs and Adam does the dishes. The dishes are done, books are read, four kids are down, all in about twenty minutes. Then, right when the kids are tucked in, we start our parent only, relaxation time.
Hatch Baby Mornings- This has been one of the best products I’ve discovered that I didn’t know about before I was a parent. This awesome device is a night light, sound machine and the best part of all, it changes colors however you set it, so your child knows if it’s time to rise! It can even be controlled from your phone through the Hatch Baby App! For us, at bedtime a soft yellow light goes on and stays on all night and at 7am the light turns blue and the kids know morning is here and it’s time to wake up. We have a water sound set for the sound machine to help block out noises. If they wake up and the yellow light is still on, they can either go back to sleep or play or read quietly until the light turns blue. This has been an amazing, life changing product for our family. I know it’s a little pricey, but for me it is worth every penny!
Napping/Rest Time- Nap time is so necessary, not just for the kids to have some down time to recharge but for me, too. We have a routine that I don’t stray from. Songs and rocking for the littles and two books for the bigs and down they all go. Now that the bigs don’t actually sleep, I give them quiet activities during their rest time. Sometimes an audio book, a puzzle, beads, train tracks, etc. We use the Hatch Baby for nap time in addition to the mornings, which helps the kids know when rest time is over. Check out my favorite Quiet Time Activities, here:
QUIET TIME ACTIVITIES
Featured Activites: Train Track Set and Fuse Beads
My favorite Train Set, endless fun!
Fuse Beads- this set comes with a mermaid and a unicorn!
Adult Supervision (ages 3&up)
Another “teacher trick” I learned before I had kids of my own is whenever you don’t know what to do or how to keep children happy, just open a book or sing to them. It works, every time! I’ve had experiences where I wait in the car with all four while Adam ran into the store and two start crying and the other two are fighting and what saves the day? Singing! And Books! EVERY TIME! It’s the best cure, cheers everyone up, distracts and before you know it, Daddy’s back and we’re on the road again. I keep a stash of books and toys in the van for these times.
When I became pregnant with the second set of twins, I discovered our city’s local Jazz Music Radio Station which plays a nice combination of classic jazz and modern jazz. It was so soothing to me while I was pregnant that I didn’t change the station for two years! Now, when driving, I only listen to Jazz which is calming but also makes me feel two generations older than I am. I still have memories of my grandparents driving me as a child and they listened to exclusively Jazz in the car. Now, my kids even know how to request it on our Amazon device, “Alexa, play Jazz Music”. I love the way many jazz songs highlight different instruments and the kids and I can talk about the different instruments we hear, in the car or at home.
We use the Amazon unlimited music for 7.99/month. It’s awesome! We listen every day, they have everything you can think of and you can just tell your device what to play! “Alexa, play kid music by Lisa Loeb” or at nap time, “Alexa, play soft jazz.” I love that it is so easy to incorporate music into your daily life. Sometimes I think of a song I loved from a long time ago like “Lightning Crashes” or “There is So Much More” and since it popped in my head and I’m holding a baby, I can still play it, using voice command. I also love that it is completely Ad free and you can listen offline with unlimited skips. It even includes podcasts which is nice, too if you want to catch up on your favorite show. This is a nice way to catch up on the news or a favorite talk show without the unnecessary screen time. Click the link below to get Amazon Unlimited Music with a 30 day free trial. This is another thing that improves our life and in our mind is worth every penny!
Try Out Amazon Music Unlimited:
Kathleen, M.Ed.-mom of two sets of twins, educator, yoga instructor, nature enthusiast.