Stealing Away for “Me Time”
I don’t need to tell you that parenting is a demanding, full-time job. There is work to be done at home on every front—shopping, cooking, laundry, homework and sporting events, as well as school and church activities that can completely consume the lives of parents. And, for those of you who work full-time to support your family financially, you must also manage the stress that takes place at the office. For parents juggling these responsibilities, dropping any of these balls is not an option—and when something is forgotten or mismanaged there is the guilt that accompanies the stress. Hello, double whammy!
I’m here to tell you to let go—and work hard to find treasured time for yourself.
Your family will thank you for it. None one likes being around the crazed parent who has forgotten themselves—that individual can easily become resentful and then carry guilt around for feeling that way. But how does the letting go happen, and where do you start to find your little corner of serenity? I’m inviting you to read through a few of the following suggestions to see if any, or all of them could provide a map to make your life easier.
- Don’t over commit. This strategy begins with saying no. Say it out loud with me, “No.” Over the past few decades children have been overscheduled by parents who feel every minute of their kid’s day must be structured and occupied by activities. Tell each child they may pick two activities that are extracurricular. Keep your schedule as simple as possible.
- Ask yourself why you are enrolling or registering your child for a sport or activity. Do they really want to participate, or is their involvement something you have decided for them? Talk options over with your children—be sure they are 100% excited. No kid wants to dread going to karate’, soccer or dance class, and pushing them into it may do more harm than good.
- Create relationships with other parents who have their kids on the same team or involved in the same activity or class, and then work on a creating a car pool to give each other a break from the dropping off and picking up.
- Use your free hours to get some exercise or give yourself a treat. Running, walking, yoga, coffee with a friend, a pedicure, shopping at your favorite store—all these activities restore your depleted soul and allow you to get in touch with yourself.
- Delegate attending games, practices and classes to other family members—aunts and uncles are often down for helping, as are trusted neighbors and other friends. Ask your proxy parent to take photos and share them with you—make their involvement special. As an auntie, I always enjoyed spending time with my nephews without their parents around to keep me from bending a few of their rules. (Ssssh!)
- Designate a date night with your spouse, or if you’re a single parent make room for social events and nights out with friends, co-workers or family members. Rest yourself from the grind—try to talk about other topics besides the kids—I know, you love them, but keep expanding your own interests and horizons.
- Set up a rotating “sleepover schedule.” You will have to host a slumber party on occasion, but once you’ve hosted, the following weeks will give you open weekend evenings to relish.
- Get playdates* on the calendar. This is like the “sleepover schedule” and will buy you a few free hours in the summer or on weekend days during the school year to pamper yourself or get things done.
- Put a “vent session” on the calendar with a trusted friend or fellow parent. It’s healthy to talk through challenges, frustrations and problems with another who may be experiencing the same fears, fatigue and frazzle. That listening ear may be just what you need to reset your heart and mind. If you want to add wine or coffee you have my permission!
- Stay away from social media as much as possible. I know, this one is tough. But you would be shocked if you kept track of the time you spend scrolling. In addition to losing time, seeing all the great things your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter friends are posting may make you feel like an inadequate parent. Here’s an absolute fact–comparisons are never healthy. Be happy with who you are and the life you’ve built. Every family is different, and you are doing the best you can. Take a breath and live one day at a time…you’re doing great!
Lastly, Kids Quest is always an option for a wonderful break if you have children between the ages of 6 weeks and 12 years. Cyber Quest also guarantees fun for those over the age of 13, when they can play on their own. Best of all, both are open 365 days a year, nights and weekends—and they’re waiting to give you the fabulous free time you deserve.
*Please visit our blog series about playdates, originally posted on our website in April 2018. Read it today by clicking here