Ways to Carve Out “Me Time” *Updated*

16 Ways to Carve Out “Me Time” was originally posted in 2016 – I’m updating it to 17 Ways for 2017!

With all of the busy things the second half of 2016 – getting engaged, getting married, moving x3, I lost sight of doing some of these important things for myself. This post is still just as relevant and a great reminder, especially at the start of the new year. I thought it was worth updating and adding one more to round it out for 17 Ways for 2017. Here’s to your best year yet!

Ways to Carve out Me Time

I have always loved the New Year. For some reason it feels easier and more freeing to start with a new beginning and a totally clean slate.

I know that I can begin a new goal, get re-focused, search for inspiration, and get myself and home organized at any time, but the New Year provides such a great opportunity to re-evaluate where I’m at. To think about what I want to change – or even to reinstitute some great habits that I had last year before things got so busy with the holidays.

One of the biggest things that I want to do differently this year is to deliberately carve out “me time” for myself. (Update: Yep, a year after posting this and it is still true!) I’m no martyr. I don’t take care of everyone but myself. I don’t run myself ragged trying to do it all for everyone and nothing for me. But, I haven’t always been very intentional or deliberate about how I take care of me.

Rather than haphazardly squeezing in “me time” here are there, I decided that this year I am going to be making a point to develop routines about how, why, and when I do this. The first step was to come up with some ideas for the “how” part of “me time.”

As for the “why,” me time and setting goals for myself isn’t about taking a break from my kids, but about taking care of myself so I can be the best mom I can be for them – and so I can be happy while I’m doing that.

I came up with a few ways that I want to deliberately carve out “me time” this year (originally 16, but I added a 17th in celebration of Happy 2017!). Some of these are simple, and others take more time and effort or a little bit of planning. Either way, I think they’re all a great starting point for me to discover new ideas and feel refreshed for things to come this year.

For the “when” I do these things – a lot of that happens during the specific weekends when the kids are gone at their dad’s, but I’m s-l-o-w-l-y setting my alarm a little earlier each day so I can get in the habit of getting up a little bit earlier. Some of the things on this list, like reading, exercising, or journaling, are habits that I’d like to start doing on a regular basis in the morning during breakfast.

Ways to Carve Out “Me Time”

As part of my New Year thought process, I came up with a few ways that I want to deliberately carve out “me time” this year. Some of these are simple, and others take more time and effort or a little bit of planning. Either way, I think they’re all a great starting point for me to discover new ideas and feel refreshed for things to come this year.

16 Ways to Carve Out Me Time in 2016

1. Read your favorite magazine.

I recently picked up a couple of magazines at the grocery storeI haven’t bought a magazine in a while – but it was really relaxing to sit in a chair and flip through these on a quiet morning after the kids went to school. Magazines can be a great source of inspiration.

2017 Update: I have a couple magazine subscriptions now and this is always an easy one when a new issue arrives in the mail.

2. Plan a girls night.

In previous years I hosted a couple of cheese tasting parties for a group of girlfriends at my house. That was a ton of fun to do. I also enjoy just going out to dinner with friends, or having a girls night in movie night – we did in 2016 and watched Pitch Perfect 1 and 2. There was great food and some much needed laughter! As a single parent – and the only adult in my house – the opportunity to connect with another adult for some conversation is priceless!

2017 Update: Now that we’re setting in our new house, I totally want to have a cheese party again again because I had such fun planning and really enjoyed the evening. I’m not single anymore, but connecting with other women is still so important! It has been harder since moving because I don’t have as close proximity anymore to the friends I made in our old neighborhood and I’m still trying to connect with new neighbors.

3. Make Time for Down Time.

Make a point to have down time before bed. Don’t spend the entire evening after the kids are in bed running around doing chores or wasting time on social media. Spend some quality, quiet time to yourself before you head to bed.

2017 Update: Kevin and I told the kids last night that we are going to crack down on our electronic usage, which has kind of gotten out of control with all the moving and being out of our routines. One of the things the kids are going to do is to have reading time before bed – that also allows Kevin and I some quiet evening time.

4. Give yourself a home facial, manicure, or pedicure.

I love getting a mani/pedi, but I hate spending the money on it. So, I’ve taken to giving myself pedicures every few weeks. I soak my feet in a tub of epsom salt, buff off all the dry skin, moisturize my feet, and polish my toes. My feet feel and look great afterwards!

Here are some great at home spa recipes:

16 Ways to Carve Out %22Me Time%22 in 2016

5. Learn How to Do Something New!

This is especially great to do when you’re under a lot of stress. “Stress helps the procedural-learning area of your brain – the part you use to hone skills that require repetitive practice.” says Shawn W. Ell, Ph.D. I guess that’s why I tend to sit down at the piano and pick my way through a new song when I need some “me time.” If you don’t have anything you’re currently working on learning, take some time to think about a new skill or hobby you’d like to start. Aside from getting better at the piano (which was one of my goals from last year that I do feel like I succeeded at, even though I’m still learning), I think it would be fun to learn how to salsa dance.

2017 Update: I started last year out strong working on my piano skills and yet again, it was a goal that fell by the wayside. The piano is out of storage and in our new home and I really should pick it back up again because it was such a soothing practice as well as a good mentally stimulating activity.

6. Write Down your Goals.

Just because January 1 has already passed us by doesn’t mean you can’t still make a goal. I like to sit down periodically and think about the goals I did make and how I’m doing on them. Maybe I want to refine them. Or maybe some of them are things I can check off the list as accomplished (if they are to-do item goals rather than long-term life change goals). It is always great to take some time to think and assess.

2017 Update, at my friend Kristen’s recommendation I got the The Happiness Planner and this is going to be great for goals as well as daily organization! I love the quotes on every page and the monthly plan at the start of each new month.

7. Listen to Music.

Sometimes I love to just lay on the couch or my bed and listen to my favorite songs. Other times I like to blast music loud in the kitchen and sing and dance while I’m cleaning up dishes or mopping the floor. Its all about finding silly little joys in day to day life.

16 Ways to Carve Out "Me Time" in 2016

8. Plan Your Weekly Meals.

I go back and forth with meal planning. Sometimes I’m really great at following my plan and other times I’m terrible at it, but whether or not I stick to the plan it is nice to sit down and look through some new recipes and think about what I’d like to be eating that week. I usually get inspired to try something new and then feel refreshed for not staying in a cooking rut.

Update: again with all the life stuff I totally got out of the habit and there were too many days that we scrambled to figure out dinner. I just ordered a large dry erase calendar to help keep our family organized with meal planning, kid stuff, Kevin’s travel, etc. Having a visual place to write it all down helps me so much!

9. Keep a Journal.

I don’t keep a daily journal that consists of a recollection of what I did that day – unless it was something really important or otherwise noteworthy – but I do like to keep a journal of thoughts and ideas, inspirational quotes, ideas for my blog, even a checklist of things that I want to accomplish that week. The act of physically writing something down can be really relaxing. Goal Journals are great tools for tracking your progress.

2017 Update: there have been times I’ve been totally resistant to journaling – either the things I thought I’d write about that were on my mind were stressors and I didn’t want to linger there, or I didn’t want to write certain things because I didn’t want people to read them. I want to get some passion back on this and find things that I want to journal about again.

10. Read a Book.

Spend some time reading one of those books you’ve been wanting to read. It is great to get lost in another world and step away from the go, go, go and endless to-do’s we often face. Don’t have anything in mind you’d like to read? Head to your local library and browse the shelves. See my book recommendations here.

2017 Update: I spent the evening last night browsing through the Amazon Prime Kindle store to see what was out there that was free to read and download…I found a few ideas and I’ll let you know if any of them spark my interest.

11. Get Organized.

A couple of weekends ago when the kids were gone I went a little OCD, but in a good way. I got all of the Christmas decorations put away, I organized the pantry, cleaned out the fridge, and most of my kitchen cabinets. Did all the laundry. Cleaned the bathrooms. Sure these are just normal chores and usually not my first pick when I want some downtime to myself, but it made me feel great to get my house in order and have my kitchen organized again after the holidays. It was what I needed then, so I felt great doing it, and it set the stage for a fresh, New Year and an organized, chaos-free week. Less chaos in the end = more time for the rest of the things on this list!

2017 Update: One of the fan-freaking-tastic things about all the moving we’ve done is that we eliminated so much of what we didn’t need or want. We unpacked the house exactly how we want it, and it feels so fresh and organized right now. LOVE IT! I recently got my desk area all organized and it feels so great to have a tidy place to work. I honestly enjoyed doing the organization and building the drawers I got from Ikea.

Lavender Eucalyptus Green Tea Detox Bath Salts - How to Take a Detox Bath + Benefits of a Detox Bath

12. Take a Bath.

I think a bath is one of the best forms of relaxation. I love to relax and take a nice, long detox bath once a week – usually when my kids are gone so I’m not disrupted.I fill the tub up with really warm water, not too hot so I don’t get overheated, and add a tablespoon of coconut oil, a cup of Epsom Salts, 1/4 cup of baking soda, and some essential oils. For the essential oils I like lavender and eucalyptus – they’re relaxing and soothing for stiff, sore muscles.

2017 Update: Our master bathroom in the new house has a HUGE freestanding soaking tub that I cannot wait to use for this. Unfortunately, there were a couple of issues with it on the installation so we’re waiting on the supplier and builder to swap it out with a new tub before I’m able to use it. Definitely something to look forward to!

13. Exercise.

This can be as formal or informal as you want. It can be a family bike ride or a trip to the gym or even just putting on your favorite exercise video. Exercise always uplifts me and makes me feel more motivated and productive the rest of my day.

2017 Update: Ok, I am horrible at this lately. When I was single, one of the things I did to get out of the house was go to the gym. Kevin and I started dating and we did a few things to be active together, but mainly walking the dog or going on a hike, and I completely got out of the gym habit because I wanted to spend my free time with him and doing fun things.

I’ve never been a morning person so getting up earlier than normal to work out before I start my day has always been a challenge, so I’m still trying to find a solution to this. But I do usually get out twice a day for a walk around the neighborhood with the dog and that is great for a mid-day energizer.

Ways to Carve out Me Time

14.Go for a Drive.

Sometimes I might be driving home from doing errands and realize I don’t actually want to get out of the car yet. Maybe I’m enjoying the scenery or the song on the radio, or enjoying sitting there not really doing anything but thinking. Going for a drive can be really relaxing and there’s plenty of gorgeous scenery here in Colorado.

2017 Update: I can’t believe I’m saying this, but we recently bought a new minivan for me. We went to Vegas for a little getaway without the kids and found the exact thing we’ve been trying to find in Colorado. So, we cancelled our return tickets, bought the car and drove it home. There were some pretty incredibly views during the drive.I actually love it even though I said I’d NEVER drive a van. I totally enjoy driving my new car and can definitely see myself heading out for a bit with the music, sunroof open (on warm days), and going for a little drive when I need some time to myself.

15. Head to Bed Early.

It can be really nice to go to bed after I get the kids in bed and get an extra hour or two of sleep if that’s what my body is telling me that I need that day. Just because it is only 9:00 or 9:30 doesn’t mean I can’t call it a day!

16 Ways to Carve out Me Time in 2016

16. Get Outside.

Usually it is as simple as stepping away from the work for a few minutes in the afternoon and walking to the mailbox to get the mail. Sometimes it is going for a run while the kids ride their bikes, or going on a hike with a friend. During the winter I enjoy skiing. Being outside in the sunshine is one of my favorite ways to spend “me time.” I always come away happier and more inspired.

2017 Update: We have a deck off the master and I totally look forward to sitting out there and enjoying the views or even taking my laptop out with my and setting up a temporary portable office on nice weather days just to be outside.

17. Enjoy a Cup of Tea

2017 Update: One of my favorites these days is a mug of Chai. Hot in the colder months or Iced, like this Iced Coconut Cashew Chai, in the summer. This morning actually did not start off on a great foot with 3 out of the 4 kids. After getting people where they needed to be and finishing an errand I needed to do on the way home, I made myself a cup of chai and just sat down in my desk chair to take a little breather and reboot my day. Totally worth the few minutes.

How do you carve out time to take care of yourself?

What is your favorite “me time” activity?