by Teresa J. Mitchell
Being a parent feels like you're "on duty" 24/7; 395 days a year. Yes, I know that there are supposedly 365, but with all parents accomplish, there must be another month stuck in the year somewhere, right?
Finding alone time for "you" seems impossible, but making that effort can be incredibly important! Benefits to taking a time-out include improved emotional and physical well-being for you, lower stress levels for you and your household, the ability to actually enjoy your kids and an enhanced the relationship with your partner.
What've you got to lose? These suggestions help you find that "me" time.
Carving Out Alone Time
You're probably looking at your overly-stuffed schedule with tears in your eyes, wondering where on earth you'll find those extra moments.
Just like you have to take charge of your dollars to make a budget work, you'll need to get control over those minutes and hours, not to mention days, that simply disappear.
Invest in a day planner to keep tucked with you or to use on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. Remind yourself and soon you'll be consistent, both in adding to your schedule and checking it to stay on track.
It takes time to train yourself but once you get into the habit, you'll find yourself capturing wayward moments and freeing up time to be used as you wish!
Think About Becoming an Early Riser
You're kidding, right? Get out of bed even earlier than the kids? You might initially find the thought of getting up early disdainful, but make a commitment to set that alarm 30 minutes to an hour earlier for at least a week.
What should you do with that time? It's totally up to you! You could enjoy spending it with the morning paper, for prayer or meditation, exercise, or savoring a steaming cup of coffee without interruption!
Take a Mid-Day Break
After lunch offers a prime harvest of "stolen moments" ripe for the picking! Stay-at-home parents might find it fruitful to encourage their kids to nap, or at minimum practice quiet time on their beds with a picture or coloring book.
My own mom called this "taking a sanity saver" after chasing my brothers and me around all morning (as if she could catch us!).
At-work parents can save time (and calories) by packing lunch for work versus waiting in "fast" food lines. Use the extra minutes for a brisk, 15-minute walk or to soak up some Vitamin D on a local park bench.
Those hushed moments after you've tucked the kids away can be the perfect time to sink into the comfort of your own bed or bedroom. I find that I cherish this time "alone" rather than with company. There are lots of options to explore! You can:
- Read a book
- Have a conversation (uninterrupted!)
- Soak in the tub
- Watch something other than the kids' channel
- Check e-mail
- Write an actual letter
- Paint your toenails
- Gaze at the stars
- Or…do nothing at all!
Break Away from Home
Some parents enjoy doing something away from the kids, work, home, and all that go along with it. Check out classes that exercise your body or your brain! Join a crafting club, such as quilting, cake decorating or photography. Go to the library, a museum, or see a movie on your own! Just think, the popcorn is all yours.
Treat yourself. Get a new haircut from your favorite stylist. Visit a spa for a facial or massage. Get together with your favorite pals for a Girls' or Guys' Night Out. Choose something fun for you and relax!
Create Couple Time
Setting time aside for your relationship is a priceless investment. Couples who spend time together every day see their bonds strengthened and find that blissful state affects their overall satisfaction levels as individuals.
Schedule a date night, take a moment to connect during the day, share a hobby together or take up a new one. Even a few minutes can help remind you that your load is shared and lessen the burden.
Respect; Don't Neglect
As busy moms and dads, we'll prioritize meeting the needs of others above all else. Are you guilty of shuffling yourself down the priority list or not on it at all?
Add self-care to your to-do list. Schedule those annual physicals. Take time to visit the dentist and eye doctor as recommended. Make healthier lifestyle choices for nutrition and exercise. Nurture your emotional well-being.
No matter which options you select, you'll discover that investing time in yourself leaves you refreshed, renewed, and recharged. You'll need it to deal with that spilled kool-aid on the couch you spy out of the corner of your eye!
How do you create alone time? What's your favorite method or activity?