Time to myself, for myself – A nanny’s perspective on mental clarity!


“Sleep doesn’t help if it’s your soul that’s tired.”

This quote has been on my mind for quite some time now. I am someone who likes to believe my blood type is coffee. I also tend to believe that sleeping for a few more hours will magically bring me back to life


Wrong. (Although, who are we kidding, naps are the best).


Wake up. Get ready (maybe). Stop for coffee. Get to work. Make breakfast. Clean up breakfast. Play with toys. Clean up toys. Give reading lesson. Make lunch. Clean up lunch. Get kids to sleep (maybe). Do laundry. Eat late lunch (or snack). Get nanny bag ready. Kids have woken up, time for a walk. Realize it’s raining. Buckle kids in car. Realize car is out of gas. Go to gas station. Try to calm World War 3 in the backseat. Try to calm World War 4 that’s happening in public. Go home. Make dinner. Clean up dinner. Drive home. Plan tomorrow’s activities. Do homework. Eat late dinner. Take shower. Sleep for 4 hours. Repeat.


As a nanny and a college student, this is a synopsis of any given day in my life. Sometimes a little more complicated, sometimes a lot more complicated. But as I think about the changing schedules, one thing remains the same. Busy.


I have developed a pattern, a routine, of ‘busy’ in my life. On to the next task-, go go go;, what’s next, let me put that in my color coded calendar; accidentally lose my keys for the 5th time this week sort of busy. I am constantly giving. It is my job to always be on the lookout for other peoples needs. The kids, my bosses, my professors and assignments, my friends and family. It’s become so natural that when I don’t have a full calendar or long to-do list, I find that I don’t know what to do with myself. Today’s culture has certainly glorified being busy, and I fell for it. What I didn’t realize is that while doing so, I was also falling for exhaustion, random bits of sadness, frustration, and monotony.


During one of those “I give up, I’m done, I don’t like anyone, whine grumble complain” days, I thought to myself “There has to be a way out of this.” And finally, I think I’ve found it. It’s really complicated, incredibly expensive, and hard to find so please, prepare yourself.


Time to myself, for myself. (I was kidding about the complicated and expensive part).


“Well duh, Zakia, but I just can’t find any time to myself.’ To this I say, again, wrong.


Along with praising busy-ness, society also likes to shame self-care. Sitting in silence for 5 minutes is not productive. Eating that stress relieving piece of dark chocolate (it’s science, promise) will only make you fat. Putting on a movie for children once in a while because your mind and body are exhausted is lazy. Saying “no” to someone, to anyone, is selfish.


Not to be redundant, but again, wrong.


Hey you, if you’re reading this, please know that any of the scenarios I just mentioned are…drumroll…wait for it…OKAY. They are FINE. You are NOT a terrible person for these things! What you are is human. You’re one person doing the job of teacher, chef, housekeeper, coach, nurse, friend, student, family member, etc., all while trying to keep your head above the water. If you feel like you are drowning in these responsibilities, I say – break out your floatie and a margarita (if you’re over 21, of course) and RELAX.


“Well okay, Zakia, thanks for finally getting to the point, but…yeah right. How do I do that?”


I’m not an expert, and I’m still learning, but here’s what I’ve realized so far.


‘No’ is a complete sentence.

There is no need for excuse making, explanation giving, or justification. If ‘no’ is the right answer for you to give, do it and don’t feel bad. Boundaries do not only exist to keep people out, but to protect what is inside. You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm.


5 minutes is actually a really long time.

(No seriously, ask any toddler that’s had to be in time out for longer than 2 seconds.) Make sure to take that 5 minutes a day to do whatever makes you smile. Color, read, meditate, pray, dance, eat candy, take a bubble bath – literally whatever it is, ensure that you do it.

In a world of schedules and deadlines, time is almost always allocated for. There is a big difference in “finding 5 minutes” and “taking 5 minutes”. Your time is something you will never get back, or more of, so choose to spend it wisely. You can accomplish whatever you want in those 24 hours (the same number of hours Beyoncé has in her day, FYI), but there needs to be a conscious effort to take those 5 minutes for yourself.


…and then, keep going!

So in the toddler world, 5 minutes is really long, and it’s a nice break for us. But in reality, that’s all it is – a break. So start with 5 minutes, and build on it. Once you have developed the habit of 5 minute self-care, take more time for yourself. (GASP!) Yes, I said it! Rest, rejuvenate, relax, and allow yourself to be restored. You cannot give from an empty vessel.


Appreciate the little things.

Being so busy can make everything appear to be a blur. Keep an eye out for the extra sweet cuddle you get, or the flowers in bloom. Say “please and thank you”. Smile, even when you want to scream. Be kind to everyone, and it will come full circle.


Don’t give up.

On the days when you try all or none of these things, and you are still crying at the mercy of a two year old, a bad grade, or a sleepless night, remember that you have made it through all of your bad days so far, and that is pretty impressive. You are strong. You are beautiful. You are appreciated.


You have enough. You do enough. You are enough.

You are worthy and deserving of your own attention.


Zakia Photo -2

Zakia Quintino

Nanny Manager to two sweet girls in San Antonio Texas

follow her on instagram!

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