How me time helps farming mums

Finding even a few minutes during the day to have some “me time” can be challenging for busy farming mums. Just ask Chanelle O’Sullivan, who juggles several busy working roles, including being a mum to Isabelle, 7 and Hunter, 4. She also runs the Farming Mums NZ Facebook group which has almost 12,000 members.

However, she says if you can squeeze any kind of me time into your life, the benefits are incredible – even if it’s just a few minutes. “When you do something for yourself, even if it’s small, you’re more inclined to be able to handle a whole day’s work.”

For Chanelle, taking time out for herself usually involves doing something outdoors. “If I don’t get out and do something I get grumpy. It doesn’t have to be a huge amount, anything helps.”

An example of me time for Chanelle involves dropping the kids off in the morning and doing a 2–3km loop around the local golf course while listening to a podcast. “It takes about 15 minutes and even though it’s hard sometimes to find the time it’s awesome and I always feel refreshed and good afterwards.”

Her me time activities vary depending on what she’s got going on and how busy she is. “Last year, I made an effort to climb Mt Peel once a month with friends or on my own. That was a five hour time out, which was great,” she says. “It was nice to do it with friends but also to do it on my own as it forced me to reflect and not talk.”

Chanelle is currently based on a farm in South Canterbury but the family is moving soon to a high country station near Hawea, where her husband will be the general manager.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way

Chanelle says she also likes to socialise with friends. However it can be challenging to find a time when everyone is free. She says it can also be difficult to get a break from the kids on the weekend, because her husband often has to work. “I tend to do stuff in the weekend with other mums who have kids because their husbands are working too, so it works out nicely.” She says it’s easy to come up with reasons not to make me time. “It can be easy to think something is too far away to take part in or it’s too difficult, but I think it’s about prioritising. If it’s important enough, you’ll find a way to do it.”

She advises farm mums to take me time in the morning or evening when their partners are at home, or when the kids are at school or kindy. “It can take a bit of prioritising and planning but it can be done. Every barrier has a solution to it.”

She says it’s important your partner understands how crucial me time is so you can work together to make it happen. “We can’t give back to our partner and family without time for ourselves.”

Farmstrong promotes #metime sharing

One of the findings from the Younger Farmers on their Wellbeing survey carried out last year was that 30% of women and 20% of men said not enough time for themselves was one of the main challenges to their wellbeing.

To help create awareness of how important it is to make time to invest in yourself, Farmstrong is asking farmers, farm workers and their families to #metime and share what they do and why as a way of encouraging others to find time for themselves.

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