By Amina Salau
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
Parenting is a 24-hour, 7 days a week job, with no holidays. Whether you are a working parent or a stay-at-home parent, you know that the job of raising righteous Muslim children has no leave days. The commitment that parenting requires of us can easily make us forget to take care of ourselves. We are busy attending to the needs of the family and putting ourselves last. While this is an admirable and selfless trait, you will admit that this leads to burnout that increases our stress levels.
A tired and cranky parent is of no benefit to the family. So, it is important for us as parents to find some personal time to recharge ourselves, relax, and be rejuvenated from time to time. There are several halal (permissible) ways to do this, and we will share some below.
Before we can develop the habit of having me-time for ourselves, we need to consciously block those times in our schedule. By deliberating deciding to set aside times for activities that are personal to us, rejuvenate us, or improves ourselves, we are taking a positive step towards improving ourselves as individuals.
Creating time can be a bit tricky. Our days are already filled with obligations. So, if you find yourself wondering how to squeeze in time for yourself, try the tips below:
- Take another look at your daily schedule. Does it include pockets of time that can be used for personal relaxation? If you are at home during the afternoons, try doing something for yourself while the kids nap or are away at school. If you are at work, part of your lunch or commute time can go towards an activity that helps you relax and recharge.
- Get help. Parents like us need some time to themselves too. Take turns with other parents, friends, or neighbours to watch the kids, so that you can free up some time for yourself.
- Schedule it, like everything else. This makes us see it as part of the important things we need to do. You can take a time of the week, every week, and mark it out as your personal time. The kids know that this particular time is for daddy or mommy to do something for themselves. A common favourite is late evenings after the kids have gone to bed or early in the morning just before or after fajr prayer.
Now you know how to squeeze in some time for yourself, but because you probably have not been doing that before, you are at a loss for what to do during those me-times.
Following are some suggested activities that can be enjoyable and positively rejuvenating:
- Read books. One of the easiest and most rewarding hobbies is to read. Books increase our knowledge and broaden our horizon. You can use your me-time to recite the Qur’an or revise the chapters you’ve learned.
- Visit a place you have never been or take comfort in familiar places. This may require making arrangements about where the kids will be in your absence.
- Find a hobby, either one you used to like or a new one you are curious about. For instance, gardening, sewing, knitting, farming, skiing, baking, and so on.
- Do some form of exercise; walking, cycling, and so on.
- Play sports like golf, soccer, tennis, and so on.
- Play games like scrabble or monopoly or solve puzzles to challenge and improve your thinking.
- Take a shower.
- Go out with your friends. Hanging out with people of the same age group can help to shake off those parenting blues that leave us feeling tired and stressed
- Explore nature and marvel at the creation of Allah (swt)
- Take a nap because even a 20-minute shut eye helps the body relax.
- Observe some non-obligatory salah (prayers) and relax yourself in its soothing ambiance. Merely sitting down at the end of the prayer, to pray or contemplate, will give us a pause from parenting, to focus on ourselves and our faith.
The list of things that we can do in our me-time is literally endless. The key is to do something that uplifts and rejuvenates us, so that we are less stressed in our duties as parents.
How do you find time for yourself? Share with us in the comments below.
Amina Salau is a freelance writer who is passionate about women’s issues in Islam
© IIPH 2015