There is a small part of me that thought motherhood would automatically allow me space and time to do things that bring my joy, relaxation, inspiration, and rest. But I had to fight for it. Mostly, I had to fight myself for it.
We all have those little voices that dole out harsh self-judgment. They always revolve around guilt, fear, and shame. Once I started an incredible Mindfulness course (that I am still working to finish) I understood that I am not my thoughts. Thoughts can go rampant with what-ifs and negative possibilities, and that is the number one discouragement when all a mama needs is a little time to cultivate herself.
After I learned to bypass the judgmental thoughts, I was freely able to choose when and how I could get my me-time throughout the day.
Every morning I make my French Press, blend it into Bulletproof coffee, and sit with my Magnificat (a daily meditation book) to start my day with prayer. While I drink my coffee and read, my 3 year old will either read next to me or run into her room to play for a few minutes alone. This routine didn't start out this way, but with a lot of gentle reminders, "Mama needs coffee. Mama always does prayers," she got the hang of it. This truly starts my day with peace, reflection, and (now decaffeinated) delicious coffee.
After a dedicated one-on-one-with-lots-of-eye-contact breakfast with my daughter, she usually runs off to her room again, this time to pick out her clothes. While she does so, I check my email and social media, even if it's just for 5 minutes to make sure I'm not missing something.
Each afternoon I return to an activity that brings me joy. It ranges from making a batch of homemade coconut milk ice cream, a quick trip to the pool, browsing a new magazine, or putting on Little Pim for my daughter so I can write, edit photos, or organize my calendar. Other times it means putting on some Motown or Mob Hits to dance and sway until it's time to cook dinner.
After dinner, I usually get my daughter ready for her shower while my husband cleans up the kitchen. During that time we get to chat a little bit or make plans of how we want to spend our evening after kiddo bedtime.
I think what I look forward to most of all is my shiny new nighttime routine. I converted to showering at night (which saves so much time in the morning) so now I look forward to washing off the day, and indulging in my skincare routine (including a facial and lymphatic drainage massage).
After that, I put my phone in the kitchen on silent, and head into my room to read. Since I took my phone out of my room I solved 2 problems: insomnia, and my inability to finish a book. I love reading before bed, and admittedly I always used to before owning a smartphone, because it helps me to relax, learn, and fall asleep easily (finally!).
Now when I think over my day I realize how much I have inserted my own "necessary" tasks into the day, instead of allowing my schedule to revolve around my daughter. And, when I was just giving in to every activity and whim, I was getting more and more drained (and cranky) so that by the time my husband walked in I was a complete robot cooking dinner in silence.
The moral of this story is that you have to know what things recharge you and find ways to incorporate them into your day. Once you start this it is not going to be seamless; kids throw tantrums and usually don't love change. But if you can be patient enough, and encourage their independence with a little more "freedom", you, in turn, will have pockets of quiet and inspiration to help fuel your day.