A couple months ago, I challenged myself to see how much time I could make to read (something I previously made ZERO time to do). I was shocked and surprised that I plowed through 9 books in about 6 weeks — more books than I had read in the previous 6+ years combined!
One of the books I read was The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner.
I thought this was just another book about time management — however, once I started reading, I realized it was actually about making more time for ourselves and the activities we enjoy.
The author explained how our own happiness is essential if we want to adequately care for our spouse, our children, our homes, our careers, etc. We can’t neglect our own needs, passions, hobbies, and favorite pastimes for too long; otherwise we’ll become tired, grumpy, cynical, and even physically ill.
Can anyone relate?
The book gave countless examples of ways we can make more time for ourselves, do more of the things we enjoy, and (as a result) live happier, more fulfilling lives. Everything from weekly date nights, monthly coffee outings with friends, weekend retreats throughout the year, a massage or pedicure, an afternoon of shopping, or even just putting the housework off for a day to read a favorite book or veg-out in front of the TV.
I found myself nodding as I read through many of the pages… but at the same time, I came away from the book wondering why I almost never feel the need to indulge in any of the favorite me time activities she mentioned.
Shopping for an afternoon sounds like pure torture, going to a busy restaurant or coffee shop to pay 5 times more for something that I could make in the comfort of my own home just seems like a waste of time and money, and I honestly think I’d rather recline in my dentist’s chair for a checkup than have someone touch my feet for 30 minutes! That said, I think I could potentially handle a short message as long as all my clothing stayed on and the masseuse was female — but I’m not going to risk it any time soon 🙂
Yes, I realize how insane this might sound to some (many) of you; but the idea of going on a weekend retreat or a coffee date just to “get away” sounds insane to me. What do I want to “get away” from? I LOVE being home!
For the last 2 months, I’ve continued to mull over the concepts I read in The Fringe Hours, wondering why I rarely ever feel the need for traditional forms of “me time” (especially since I’m often smothered by 3 children all day long!)
What I realized is that I actually DO enjoy “me time”… but my “me time” is often spent on everyday tasks that so many others want to get away from.
Cleaning is actually something I enjoy for the most part. Not only do I get so much satisfaction from the end result (even if it only stays clean until the kids wake up the next day), but it’s also a great stress-reliever. I just zone out and clean while I think about whatever I want to think about.
Starting (and finishing) an organizing project is something I often look forward to all day (or even for multiple days). I love tweaking things to find the best, most efficient way to organize a space — and of course, I love PURGING!
Rearranging furniture and finding new uses for items in my home is oddly energizing for me. Before we had children, Dave knew to just go to bed on his own if I was in the middle of one of my “I want to rearrange this room” phases. I might have stay up until 1:00am tweaking things until I felt the room was “just right”… and I loved every minute of that time! Nowadays, I don’t let myself skip out on sleep to rearrange a room, but I do still make time to switch things up every now and then!
Cooking and baking is almost always therapeutic — not necessarily when I involve the kids, but if I can find some time to bake after they are in bed, I can feel the stress melting away.
Gardening is cathartic for me — offering a physical way to release frustration and exercise creativity. Even though we live in West MI, Dave and I often end up doing some form of yard work every single month of the year — whether it’s pulling weeds, deadheading plants, pruning trees, mowing the lawn, raking leaves, or transplanting perennials; there is always more I’d like to do!
Working on my digital photo albums is the closest thing I have to a “hobby” and I look forward to adding my new photos at the end of every month. It’s my “reward” after finishing all my monthly invoices and expenses (something I also do at the end of every month.)
Even writing blog posts and interacting with various readers via email, social media, and comments is something I thoroughly enjoy 98% of the time. I often think through various topics and blog post ideas throughout the day, and the words just seem to flow through my fingers when I’m finally able to just sit and write after the kids are in bed.
And that list above is the main reason I’m able to accomplish so much every day!
Not only do I get paid to share my cleaning tips, organizing projects, simple recipes, and time management advice, I also really REALLY enjoy doing it all (both the cleaning/organizing and the sharing about it on my blog).
These are some of my favorite pastimes, my cherished “me time” activities, the things I just can’t wait to do once my children are soundly sleeping each night.
Yes, that means I would almost always choose to clean, bake, organize, write, or arrange furniture over getting a massage, going out for dinner, or having a girls weekend.
If you share my love of all domestic activities, you most likely understand how convenient it can be to use our “me time” in productive ways, completing tasks we need to do anyway.
However, for the majority of you, I assume this might be difficult to comprehend 🙂
If you fall into that majority group who can’t even fathom using “me time” to clean, organize, bake, or pull weeds, I hope this post will help to ease some of your guilt and frustration now that you realize how [weird, crazy, insane] I am!
You see, I agree with the book — we all must make some time for ourselves on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. I don’t think it’s smart or healthy to constantly deny our own happiness just for the sake of crossing one more thing off our to-do lists. Obviously the cooking and cleaning need to happen at some point, but it might not be the end of the world if they have to wait a day or so if it means you are a happier and healthier person.
I guess the trick is just to find that happy-medium area where you have time to do those necessary household tasks AND a little time left over for yourself.
This happy-medium looks different for every person and every situation so I don’t have a great solution to instantly solve your time management equation. If you’re “lucky enough” (also read “crazy enough”) to enjoy cooking, cleaning, gardening, and organizing, you will probably have less trouble working adequate “me time” into your daily routine.
However, if those activities aren’t all that enjoyable for you, I would encourage you to come up with at least one thing you really love doing and figure out a way to work that thing into your daily or weekly routine — even if it means letting the laundry sit for a day (I can’t believe I just typed that!)
Also, I’m certain many of you have great examples of how you work “me time” into your daily and weekly routines. I know so many others could benefit from reading your advice and ideas, so I’d love to know…