Think you need permission to treat yourself this winter? Think again. Experts and real moms agree—taking time for yourself can benefit your whole family.
Spending time with your daughter, especially at this time of year, is beyond magical—but there’s nothing wrong or selfish about wanting to squeeze a little Y-O-U time into your schedule, too. In fact, a 2011 study out of the United Kingdom showed that the happier a mother is, the happier her children will be as well. Think about it this way, when you make it a priority to recharge your batteries, you’ll have way more patience and energy to make the season merry and bright for your little one.
Still, between shopping, decorating the house, and other festive activities, it can seem impossible to find a window to relax and unwind. Luckily, with these tips from Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist Andrea Bastiani Archibald, finding a little peace and quiet can be easy peasy:
- If you have a partner, sit down with them and map out how you’re going to handle the holiday responsibilities together so that neither of you ends up feeling over-burdened. Sure, in the olden days, moms were the CEO of the holidays, but these days the season of joy is—or should be!—a team effort.
- Sign your daughter up for an after-school or community program (check your local library or Girl Scout Council for ideas), and use the time she’s there to go for a mind-clearing run or even get a relaxing pedicure.
- Ask your daughter to be a “Holiday Elf,” by helping you make cookies or wrap presents. While the job might not get done quite as quickly as you could get it done on your own, she’ll love feeling included, and will feel pride in her work. Bonus? You won’t have to pull an all-nighter finishing all these holiday tasks alone. Use that time to get a few extra zzz’s. Dreaming of sugarplum fairies never sounded so good.
- Coordinate with other moms in the neighborhood or at your daughter’s school to create a pre-holiday play date schedule with each parent agreeing to take the girls for a specific Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Your daughter will love spending special time with her friends each weekend, and you’ll love having some time to yourself to curl up with that mystery novel you’ve been dying to finish.
- Make sure your bedtime routine is just as much of a priority to you as your daughter’s. You’d never send her off to sleep without a story and a kiss? Well, never send yourself to sleep without the things that make you feel taken care of—be it a hot shower with yummy-scented bath products, or some alone time with your partner.
Most of all, remember that setting aside a few moments or even a whole afternoon for yourself doesn’t make you a bad mom. In fact, quite the opposite is true! “We want to model healthy behavior for our daughters,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “We need to let our daughters know that it’s okay to take time for ourselves, and that we can rejoin the group once we’re recharged. This balance sets a great example for your child and your whole family.”