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The Importance of Making Time to Be Yourself

Looking back, I recollect many times thinking to myself, I can’t wait until… I can drive a car… stay out as late as I want… have my own house… eat as much chocolate as I desire… You get the idea.

Anyway, at every stage of my life, I looked forward to the possibilities of the future. I was ready to move to bigger and better things. And while I loved being a kid, I don’t think I realized just how amazing it was. I had people taking care of my needs, I didn’t have to worry about paying bills or having a job. I was able to spend time with my friends daily and I got to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities, and the best part? I wasn’t always the one in charge, having to make every decision for myself and others.

It baffles me now that I didn’t always see that being an adult does mean more freedom in some respects, but that freedom is sometimes more limiting because of your responsibilities. You quickly transition from dependent to depended upon. Becoming a mom was a life-altering experience. It helped shape me into the person that I am, and I adore my children. Being a mom is a tremendous blessing and my children are by far my greatest accomplishments. But let’s face it, being a mom is tough.  The lack of sleep, the arguments, running kids from one activity to the next, serving, cleaning up, helping with homework… And this is just the tip of the iceberg!

So, I think many moms would agree with me that being a parent can sometimes make you feel as though you’re losing your identity. At times, I feel like a slave to the needs of others. I miss hearing someone call me Michelle instead of Mom or Ms. Hoerlein.

So, I made a decision a few years ago that I needed to find an activity or hobby that would allow me to leave the house one night a week. It sounded so selfish at the time, and I felt guilty that I still had a desire to have a life outside of being a mom, but making time for myself has been so beneficial to my family.

I have always been physically active, and I wasn’t sure how having a family would affect that.

Well, let’s just say, I’ve had to make alterations to my workouts without abandoning them. Once I was allowed to resume physical activity after giving birth, I had no idea how I would find a way to jog and exercise with two babies at home. Since I prefer to jog outside, I would get up early while both babies were still sleeping… this in itself was sometimes a challenge. Then I would jog up and down our long driveway with the baby monitor in my pocket. There were times when my run would be interrupted because I had to take care of a baby, but it was important for my own wellbeing to continue to run. For me, exercise is a stress reliever, so giving it up wasn’t something I was willing to do.

Once my twins got older, I was given an amazing gift… a double jogging stroller with a hood! I loved it. It meant that I could take my kiddos with me. Again, my jogs were certainly not the same as they had been when I was younger, but in many ways, they were better. Not only is pushing a stroller a good workout, I also got to spend time with my kids. They would ask me to stop and pick flowers sometimes and usually enjoyed going with me.

Fast forward a few years and my kids sometimes ride their bikes or jog with me. They know that this is a part of my life. They don’t question it because it’s normal to them, and I feel so fortunate that they share my love of being outside and staying active.

And I mustn’t forget my Jillian Michael’s workout DVDs too. I am able to do those workouts using dumbbells in my living room before the kids get up for school as well.

On the weekends they sometimes join me for a circuit or two. And they sometimes watch and critique my form, but I haven’t had to give up my exercise regimen because I am a mom. Instead, I alter how I workout to accommodate the needs of my family.

A few years back, I began playing in a coed volleyball league with former classmates and even a few former students. It’s a time when I can outlet some of my physical energy. I’ve always had a passion for sports, so this activity allows me to participate competitively like I did when I was young. For me, it’s a natural high. I love being a part of a team, which is another added benefit.

And, the best part? I can take my kids with me. They play with other kids whose parents also play on the team. And I think it’s important for them to see me continuing to do the things that I love. I always encourage them to find their passion, so I feel fortunate that I am able to model the importance of continuing to do the things I enjoyed when I was younger. As my children have gotten even older, I have even begun to expand into opportunities I never even dreamed were going to be possible for me.

Modeling has developed from a hobby into an exciting career opportunity that I never could have imagined. And while I thoroughly enjoy the work, it means spending additional time away from my kids. Modeling means traveling across the state for jobs. I also spend time writing articles, preparing for shoots, and keeping up with my social media accounts. The downfall of all this is that it takes time. The good news? My kids are my biggest supporters. They have come to some shoots with me. They read and sometimes even help me revise and edit my content.

They love when I share pictures with them. They even feel special when I mention them in a column. My daughter has even participated in some photoshoots with me.

The takeaway here is that I want my children to continue to pursue their dreams and ambitions throughout their lives, much like I am doing now. As scary as it is to think about, my kids will eventually have their own lives, so it’s my duty to continue to live my own. 

I was talking to one of my cousins the other day and he made the analogy that parents require time for themselves. It is like on the airplane when the stewardess explains that in case of emergency, put on your own air mask BEFORE assisting others. It makes sense. We can’t begin to help anyone else if we aren’t first healthy. So, model to your children the importance of living a balanced life.

While I am an advocate of working hard and spending quality time with my kids, I also know that taking some time for myself makes me a better, more patient mom.

And for me, that’s what it’s all about.

Find Michelle on Instagram, @fitmodelmom or click HERE.

You can also visit Michelle at or by clicking HERE.

This article was originally published here on the Astonishing Tales digital magazine on 19/09/2020.

Michelle Nowotny-Hoerlein
I am a physical education teacher, model, and mom to three busy children. My family stays active and busy by participating in lots of sports and extracurricular activities. My hobbies include working out, jogging, beach volleyball, and reading.

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