Having a kid under a year old has been a blur of many things, and being a working parent has kept me busier than I’ve ever been in my entire life. I sometimes think back to my pre-baby days and wonder, “What did you do with all that time?!” It’s taken some practice and some exhausted tear-filled evenings to find a rhythm that works. With the help of my partner, we’ve been able to almost keep everything in order with a fairly simple commitment: one hour of “me” time each day.
There are a lot of things I want to do—provide for a happy and healthy life for my child, of course—but there are other things too, like continuing to cook healthy and local foods, occasionally work up a sweat at the gym, get out for some self-care in the form of a manicure or a facial or maybe even catch up with a friend over lunch or a cocktail. When I look at that long (and growing) list, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and give up altogether.
So instead, I find at least one hour to check these kinds of things off my list—not necessarily at once, but rather 60 minutes over the course of a single day. Here are some ways that this has worked for me:
- Sign up for a class: Scheduling an hour workout for the weekend ahead has been a game-changer. (For me, it’s signing up for a barre class in advance that I won’t be able to easily cancel.) I let my husband know about it well in advance, so he knows that he’s on dad duty that morning. Something about the simple act of signing up for the class makes me more accountable, and an hour on weekend day feels really manageable.
- Scheduling, scheduling, scheduling: In general, if I put something in my calendar well in advance, it’s more likely to happen. Whether that’s committing in advance to getting together with a friend, or getting my hair cut or anything really—once it’s in the calendar, it’s part of the plan.
- Power lunch: My lunch break can be huge for my to-do list. I’ll pop out to the grocery store or pick up a couple of online shopping items that I’ve been wanting to grab. Or, if time allows, I’ll step out for a walk or listen to a podcast and unwind.
- 5-minute tidy up: My husband and I have recently ended our evenings by pausing what we’re doing and taking a timed 5-minute tidy up where we each spend some time getting the house in order for the morning. It’s simple, but it makes a huge difference.
- Post-bedtime rituals: Once the baby has gone to sleep for the night, it’s easy to just zone out in front of the TV for a few hours. Lately, I’ve been trying to use that time for more. I’ll put on a face mask and stretch out, or do an at-home manicure while watching my favorite show. It’s also a great time for my husband and I to enjoy a glass of wine together, turn off the TV and simply catch up.
Nothing here is ground-breaking or a completely novel concept. However, narrowing down on just one hour has made the idea of being productive so much more reasonable for somebody like me. If I’m working, taking care of my child, and have managed to cook a meal, clean up the house and have a glass of wine with my husband—all within a total of one hour—I’m going to go ahead and pat myself on the back for a job well done.