Elle Rowley knows a thing or two about needing 'me-time.' A mama of 3 and the founder of Solly Baby, a super light and luxurious wrap for babywearing, Elle's spent a lot of the past 5 years with lots of babies in very close proximity. As Solly Baby has grown since its birth in the little sewing nook of Elle's Salt Lake City home in 2011, so has the team that depends on her, as well as the legions of mamas who look to her for babywearing, style and parenting inspo.
Now that Elle's pregnant with Baby #4, things are hardly slowing down. Solly's latest collection included a whimsical wrap collaboration with Rifle Paper Co that sold out in a day (don't worry, we've got one for you to win right here!). “It's a lot of work bringing two brands together in a way that celebrates both. But it's so rewarding getting through that process and sharing it with our community," Elle says of the Rifle project collab with Rifle. “I'm excited to connect with our community in a very real way this next year as I'll be wearing my own baby and to find new ways to support mamas in those first few months of postpartum."
Four pregnancies deep, Elle says she's learned a lot about being efficient and letting go of the things that are not essential to the business -- or family. She once was plagued by severe anxiety because she wanted to do it all. She never took time off, and felt that work was her me-time. “My husband helped me recognize that it was not, and that was a real turning point for me in self-care," she says. “As I have reconciled the fact that I will never do it all (and now I think to myself, 'Why would I even want to do it all?!'), I am a much better mother, wife, and business owner."
If you want to build self-care back into your schedule, read on to get Elle's 6 tips on finding mama me-time, and tune in on Well Rounded NY's Instagram at 9 pm, EST (6 pm PST) today for a live chat with Elle on all things babywearing.
We're also celebrating World Babywearing Week with a special Well Rounded West Coast Tour featuring Solly Baby! Starting tomorrow, check out our Instagram every day this week for a flash giveaway hosted by one of our fave Solly-wearing mamas in 4 West Coast cities: Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego If you live in one of those spots, you'll have a chance to win a wrap and meet that awesome mama for coffee (Babies optional. Hello, me-time!). Your city's not included? This online Solly x Rifle wrap giveaway's all yours, mama! Don't worry, we'll come visit you soon.
And now, here's Elle's 6 tips to get some well-deserved mama me-time.
1. Date yourself! Jared and I take turns giving each other dates by ourselves. It's so much easier than scheduling a sitter, and we both enjoy getting more one-on-one with our little ones while the other one is away. If you are parenting solo or your partner's schedule doesn't accommodate this, then I recommend swaps with friends or scheduling a sitter. I take the day off, purely to do nothing but things I enjoy doing by myself or with a close friend, once a month. And sometimes I prefer just having shorter weekly dates.
I know this is about getting “me-time", but I also feel like it's worth mentioning how helpful it is when I surprise my husband with a night off when he's not expecting it. Right before dinner, I'll tell him that I've got bedtime and he should go see the new Star Wars or go surfing or something. That thoughtfulness goes a long way with him, and I have found that when we are both looking out for the other (instead of keeping score to make sure we get our own time) then neither of us feel resentful.
2. Maximize on independent play. My sister-in-law with older kids told me years ago, if you give them 15 minutes of undivided attention then they'll give you an hour. I really have found this to be true with my kids once they hit around two -- with some of my kids it's been even younger. When I'm having an especially crazy day and I really need a break, but don't have childcare, then I go to my mental list of activities my kids will stay focused on for a while. For example, with my son, it's Legos, my older daughter it's making art, and my toddler loves her kitchen. I will play with them for 10-30 minutes, and then that will give me at least an hour of (almost totally) uninterrupted time. Of course that changes with every phase of childhood, but it's good to take an assessment of what they'll do independently so you can get a few minutes here or there to take a mental/physical break.
3. Set blocks of time for your to-dos. I don't schedule any meetings on Monday mornings because that's my time to catch up on emails. Just that little time to focus on work gives me more time throughout the week to focus on myself. I also try to wake up each day before my children. It's so hard, but it's the difference of easing into the day or having it hit me in the face.
4. Partner time is also me-time. When Jared and I go on date nights, I feel like I've also focused on myself. Our relationship is based on balance, and it's nice to reset that every once in awhile and catch up on our relationship outside of the business and parenthood.
5. Make the most of the in-between. I load up on podcasts and audiobooks so I can get the most of my drive time. I find myself making more and more trips to LA, which can be a 2-3 hour drive depending on traffic. If I'm prepared with a good audiobook, the time flies, and I can check another book off my list!
6. Find peace in the chaos. I have to say that there is something to the idea of “finding peace in the chaos." My good friend used to teach a free yoga class each week where members of our church congregation and community could come with or without their kids and do an hour flow class. I would bring my babies, and often they would whine or crawl all over me while I was trying to workout. As I would feel my frustration mount, I would think, “WHY AM I EVEN HERE?!" But Erynn, the instructor, would say, “You can have a still mind and heart, no matter what is going on around you. Find inner peace, despite the chaos around you." It really is a choice and, even though sometimes it is so hard, I have found my most important moments of “me-time" have come when I've been surrounded by people.
Don't forget to tune into Elle's Babywearing Insta-chat today from 9-10pm EST on @wellroundedny and check in each day for a chance to win a Solly Baby wrap! Enter to win the Rifle x Solly wrap below.
Photography by Max Wanger.