Running on Empty? How to Make Time for You!

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” - Picasso

Alessio and I are in the garden. He is dressed in his papa’s old shirt that comes down to his feet. It’s smeared with paint globs and bright fingerprints of red and blue. His easel is set up, but my son prefers making himself the work of art. He is enjoying every minute.

I am trying to hurry him. Get that masterpiece finished, now! I have a bunch of errands to do. It’s my day off, but my days off are as overloaded as my work week.

I start thinking ahead about what I have to do next, how long it will take to clean up the mess and what other moments I will have to shave down to keep my schedule thrumming like a well-oiled machine - though today it feels like I’m stuck in a traffic jam with things piling up.

That’s when I know it’s time to stop and regroup.

Time. We spend it, save it, waste it, share it. The amount is always the same: 24/7. So what’s the rush?

Mothers, of all people, know how to do more with less in terms of time. But multi-tasking, though sometimes necessary, can wear thin on both nerves and relationships. A new study shows that stressed parents are less connected with their children, and as a result, the children are stressed too.

Last week I ran out of gas on a Los Angeles freeway. The first time in my life! I normally pay attention when the gas light starts flashing - but this time, I figured I didn’t have time to stop for gas. I would squeeze by somehow, running on empty, to get to my next appointment.

Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? But too often we live our lives just like that - chugging along until we run out of steam.

As parents, we are 110-percenters. We try to give our children the best - best schools, best after-school activities, best play dates... list goes on. But what does 110% actually mean? You are giving more than you’ve got. Sometimes “the best” is to stop all the running around and be in the moment.

You have the power to make your day what you want it to be. Sometimes you have to break your routine to make way for new experiences. If everything is too fine-tuned, you’ll miss out on the beautiful element of surprise - and I don’t mean running out of gas during LA rush hour!

Crunched for Time?

  • Give yourself a 15-minute buffer in the morning. Benefits: peace of mind, no smeared eyeliner, and your kids won’t feel like ping-pong balls as you rush to feed them, brush their teeth, get them dressed, etc.
  • When you are overloaded, stop and regroup. Ask yourself: Is this the best use of my time right now?
  • If you feel that you are always rushing, rearrange your schedule or trim it down.


Make time each day to recharge. You are just as important as your kids. What you don't do today, will be there tomorrow. Sometimes it’s best to delay your chores and refresh your soul.

You could:

  • Take a long, hot bath.
  • Work out - get that endorphin rush, feel better about your body and your heart will thank you.
  • Do a five-minute stress-buster: close your eyes, breathe deeply, and clear your thoughts.
  • Sing, paint, dance or express yourself creatively. It is hard to over-think when you're engaged in something fun.
  • Take a day off from negative, draining people - even the ones you love.


When I set my clock back on Sunday to “gain” an hour, I was reminded that time is infinite, it never stands still, it is continuous.

“The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of 60 minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.” C.S. Lewis.

In the garden, I decide to stay in the moment with Alessio. I pick up a paintbrush and dab at the easel with a few bright splashes of my own. A butterfly flies overhead at that instant. Corny but true. That butterfly had perfect timing. I'm still working on mine.