University of Illinois Extension

Take Time for You

Ann Marie Marshall, Family Life Educator

"What do you mean time for me?" There are meals to cook, clothes to wash, appointments to keep, a child who is up three or four times a night, cleaning, shopping, work obligations... the list goes on and on. Time for you is last on the list of priorities.

But, personal time is essential for emotional and physical survival when raising grandchildren. Not being in control of your time can be stressful. You may start experiencing these early warning signs of stress: short temper, headache, elevated blood pressure, upset stomach, disrupted sleep, unable to make a decision, feeling out of control, change in appetite.

Stress is part of life, and it will not go away. Signs of stress are a warning that it is time to stop, evaluate, and make some changes that can help you cope.

Think about the things that you enjoy doing. How long has it been since you have taken time for you? Last week? Last month? Last year?

Now, think of a strategy that will allow some personal time.

  • Make a list of things you enjoy doing that help you relax.
  • Tell yourself that it is possible to find time for you.
  • Make a plan.
  • Tell someone about your plan. Ask the person to check back with you about your progress.
  • List the obstacles to finding personal time.

Try these ideas for some personal relaxation. They are economical and require minimal time.

  • Go for a walk.
  • Buy a box of bubble bath, lock the bathroom door, and soak.
  • Read a chapter a day from a book.
  • Call a friend.
  • Take a mind vacation (sometimes more relaxing than a real one).
  • Use waiting time creatively (bring a book or journal to the doctor's office).

Remember, taking care of yourself may be the most important thing you can do to insure your ability to care for your grandchildren.