By: Jessica Lynn

Sometimes moms, especially military spouses, get pigeonholed into the title of being “just a mom,” and anyone who’s been a mother for more than five minutes knows there’s a lot more to it than just being a mom. Some of us may work outside of the house, some may stay at home with the kiddos, and some may do both, but the underlying factor is that, as a military spouse and a mom, we typically juggle more than the average Jane.

There’s this notion that we, as moms, have to do everything, and sometimes that’s entirely true, especially during deployments or other military events that take our spouses away from us for periods at a time. As a mom we need to keep the kids fed, dressed, and alive, all while making sure they don’t get too much screen time and educating them at the same time (by playing, getting creative and artistic, and letting them run around). Moms need to keep the house clean from clutter, and make sure everything is dust free; we should always do all the laundry, and keep the floors clean; we need to wear makeup, get our hair done, put on clothes (other than yoga pants, of course), and look “put together.” Moms need to have breakfast ready, lunches packed, and dinner on the table at night.

That list of a mom’s obligations is a little extreme (and exaggerated, of course), but add in the outside pressures of the military—PCSing, solo-parenting, and schedule/routine changes at the drop of a hat, and extreme or not, a mom’s life is quite demanding. The only thing missing from such a busy life is scheduling in some “me” time. Unfortunately, it’s easy to let the hustle and bustle of life pass us by before realizing that we haven’t made any time to better ourselves.

The key to finding time for yourself starts with baby steps. Beyond carving out specific time just for yourself, you may need to fiddle with your budget and make sure you and your partner are both on the same page as far as whatever me-time activity you decide to venture into.

If you’re looking for some ideas, here are five ways you can start making time for yourself:

Start/Join a Book Club
Okay, truth be told: most book clubs end up being more like social hour with a little book discussion mixed in. Consider this like a play date for moms—with wine and chocolate. If you can’t find a book club near you, consider starting one! All you need are two friends (and then they tell two of their friends), and there you go: instant book club!

Hit the Gym
What better way to have some “me” time than to get in the zone and in tune with your body. The best part is that once you join, most gyms provide childcare with your membership. So while you’re focused on your downward dog in yoga class, or trying not to make a fool of yourself while doing Zumba, your kids are having fun—without you! If gyms with childcare in your area are sparse, have a few friends meet you at the park with their kids. While the little ones are playing, the moms can do some quick workouts together. Instant gym with free childcare (just make sure to keep at least one eye on the kiddos)!

Discover a New Hobby
Sit down one day (or over the course of a few days if you’re really busy) and make a list of several (fun) projects, things you love to do, or things you’ve always wanted to do. Once you have your list, go from there! If “learning to crochet” tops the list, then search around for a beginner’s class. If “take more pictures” is on your list, then get out your camera and start today! Are you creative? How about making more of your craft and selling it on Etsy? If there’s something you’ve always wanted to do—now’s the time to do it!

Help Others
If you’re the type of person who loves to give, give, give, consider putting that energy towards volunteering around your town or base. Whether it’s volunteering to take meals to a family in the squadron with a new baby, or helping out at a homeless shelter one morning a week, this could help fulfill the “me” time you’ve been looking longing for. As an added bonus, you could bring your kids along (if their old enough), so you could share the experience with them. If you’re not sure where to start, talk to your spouse and see if he can ask around about any opportunities available around the community.

Further Your Education
Consider going back to school. Earning your degree can be a life changing experience, but the best part is that it doesn’t have to change how you live your life! Finding a military-friendly college, like Colorado Technical University, that helps you get your degree online — in either an associate, bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate levels — is an excellent way to further your education.

When you enroll in one of CTU’s online programs, you can go to class and finish your assignments anywhere, anytime, and they’re extremely flexible. CTU offers deployment friendly policies to help military service members and spouses the opportunity to pause their degree program if deployed and return when they can. Additionally, if a student puts too much on their plate initially with too many courses, they can reduce the number of classes to better suite their schedule.

If you’re ready to take the leap and enroll, CTU has multiple start dates throughout the year, and enrolling can be completed in a matter of minutes. Just think, if you take the plunge and enroll during naptime one day, you could be on your way to earning a degree before you even start cooking dinner!

JessicaMore than a decade ago, Jessica Lynn established Jessica Lynn Writes, a lifestyle blog for the 20 and 30-something woman looking for a real life glimpse into the world of someone she can relate to. A mom to two girls, Jessica writes about pregnancy and parenthood, good eats and globetrotting, the life of a military wife, and much more. You can also find her on Facebook.