Last week was my first full-week back at work after a four-month-long maternity leave. Although I have done the maternity leave transition two times before, it didn't make it easier to leave my son and find my rhythm. The pumping three times a day, making sure bottles were ready, getting out the door on time, etc. were all a struggle.
By Friday, I found myself tightly wound and emotional. While yes, hormones and the transition were a part of that, but it was something more, too. All week I had neglected my own self-care. I managed the mom role, the wife role and the coworker role, but I pushed me aside. Does this sound familiar
While the recent return to work might not be your story, chances are as a mom you too have pushed your own needs aside. Maybe you have felt like you had a dozen plates spinning in the air, and if you added one more—something for yourself—everything would drop and shatter around you.
The thing is, when you don't practice self-care, most of the plates eventually will shatter. That's why I am a strong believer in women maximizing the "fringe hours" in their day for their own needs and passions.
What are Fringe Hours?
Fringe hours are those little pockets of time throughout the day that often go underused or are wasted altogether. If not intentionally redeemed, fringe hours can slip through your fingers like sand. From writing a card to finishing a chapter in a book, these pockets of time for yourself can bring happiness to your life.
Fringe hours can be found throughout the day—early mornings, lunch breaks, times of waiting, afternoon breaks and evenings. The easiest way to identify where your fringe hours are is to track your time for a week. (Learn more and download a free time tracking sheet here.)
As a working mom, I find the early morning hours are a great time for me to squeeze in a bit of "me time." I often will write, bake or even scrapbook before my kids wake-up. This habit of investing in myself before I invest in others helps me to be at my best.
Times of waiting are also another big opportunity to do something I enjoy. On average, people wait 45–60 minutes a day. While it might be tempting to spend that time scrolling through Instagram, I find that a better use is to write a card, journal or read. It's amazing how much those minutes add up to significant amounts of "me time" in a week.
The great thing about fringe hours is that they're not about doing more, but rather being more—more creative, more fulfilled, more alive. When you start to include you in your days, you will be happier, healthier and more at peace. These positive benefits have a ripple effect into other areas of your life, making you a better wife, mom, coworker and friend.
Another benefit is modeling to your children that self-care is important. When your children see you taking time to read, craft or bake or do something else for pleasure, it will leave an impression on them. As they grow older, they will recall those times and practice the same habits in their own lives.
With a new week ahead of me, I am going to be more intentional about redeeming my fringe hours and taking care of my own needs. I've already tucked a book in my briefcase so I can read a few pages if I find myself waiting for a meeting to begin.
I hope this inspires you to harness your fringe hours this week, too.
Jessica N. Turner is the founder of the popular lifestyle blog The Mom Creative, where she documents her pursuit of a life well-crafted. She is the author of "The Fringe Hours: Making Time For You" (Revell) and founding member of DaySpring's (in)courage community. Turner is also a regular speaker at blogging conferences nationwide and an award-winning marketing professional. She and her husband, Matthew, live with their young children in Nashville, Tenn.