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Making The Most Of Child-Free Hours

By JEFFARAH GIBSON

Tribune Features Writer

jgibson@tribunemedia.net

Being a mother is a full-time job, one with barely any breaks in between. On a daily basis, many mothers manage the life of their kids and families only to be completely burnt out at the end of the day because they neglected their own personal needs.

But now that the new semester is in full swing and kids are back in school, mothers can utilise and maximise their child-free hours to focus on the areas of their lives that may have been forgotten during the Summer months.

Tribune Woman spoke to the professionals who shared tips on how mothers can use any free time they may have strategically to focus on self-care as well as on emotional, mental, spiritual and even financial growth.

Life coach Dr Lorneka Joseph believes it is essential every woman pencils in some "me time" in her schedule.

“It's challenging being a working woman today; it's definitely a full-time job being a wife, mother, employee or entrepreneur. That said, I believe that it's vital that women practice some form of self-care. And with the devastation of Hurricane Dorian, prayer, wisdom and honest communication must become a new way of life for Bahamian women in order to prevent burn-out, chronic depression and bitterness," she said.

Dr Joseph said any downtime mothers have can be used to engage in activities like talking to God privately, eating lunch on the beach, journalling, or listening to an uplifting message or song.

“And I encourage all of my life coaching clients to schedule self-care – massages, social media breaks or hiring a personal coach/therapist. Even if it's twice a year, Bahamian women need to invest in inner healing outside of Sunday services," she said.

“Time management, prayer and brain dumps – releasing heart issues – can have a major impact on a woman's performance. When women make time for themselves, they perform better personally and professionally. And as more women do this, they will begin to see life from a different perspective, enjoy their many roles and fulfil their purpose with love."

Staying on top of your money situation is also a necessary component in improving your emotional and mental health.

Ava-Nicole Smith, a certified financial planner also known as the ‘242 Financialista’, said a good task to tackle during free time is prioritising major family bills that occur on an annual basis such as vacation, school preparation, physician visits, insurance and payments.

“Goal-setting is a powerful way to improve your finances. Once you’ve determined exactly where you are with your money then create achievable targets to save more, reduce debt, et cetera. Your finances tend to include goals that require an extended length of time to accomplish. However, the key is to take a little time to break them down into bite-sized, realistic goals to stay motivated and grow your financial position,” she said.

Educating oneself is also a beneficial activity that does not require a great deal of time.

“Pick up a personal finance book or take 10 minutes each day to read an article or listen to a podcast. There is always something new to learn and discover about making wise financial decisions. Seek to gain knowledge on how to manage your money, and by consistently doing so you will start to see tremendous growth when it comes to your finances. And living financially organised means keeping good records too,” said Ms Smith.

“Use spare time to place important documents/details in a proper filing system, which should include, but not limited to: title documents, investment accounts, retirement accounts, insurance, wills and liabilities. It’s a good idea to digitise these records by scanning them into a secured folder on your laptop and transferring to a jump drive."

Meanwhile, Felicia Carey, a mother and founder of Teen Life Skills Services, said although free time may be limited, it is crucial to take a step back and focus on one’s goals.

“Free time might be limited or even seem a bit selfish if taken as a mother. The reality is as a mother most of our time is spent ensuring others are successful. For this reason most mothers find it difficult to set aside any free time for themselves,” she said.

“A mother may be surprised in a short space of time how much she can achieve just by utilising her free time wisely. Making time for self-care and finding a balance, not just in assisting others such as children and family, but by putting her own needs and goals first, are the groundbreaking steps in a mother’s sustainable development."

Once goals have been identified, Ms Carey said mothers can take things a step further by using social media outlets to make progress.

“I believe the positive use of social media outlets such as YouTube in particular can provide in a short space of time information and DIY projects mothers may need to further grow and sustain themselves in areas they may be weak in,” she said.

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