For many parents, life is a juggling act between work and family. Personal time is rare, if not nonexistent. Without solitude, parents can become stressed and overwhelmed. The good news is that parents can and should take time for themselves. But how?
1) Get your children on a schedule. This is the key to having regular alone time. If you have small children, get them on the same nap schedule and keep it consistent. This will give you a block of quiet time everyday. If you have school-aged children, establish a fixed bedtime for them.
2) Do not use your quiet time for any household chores. If you’re a type A personality like me, that might be hard. But force yourself to try to relax. Instead, do the household chores with your children. This teaches them to get involved in housework and clears your personal time for what you want to pursue.
3) Develop interests outside of your children. I used to spend my alone time everyday reading parenting books. Not only was I not relaxing, but I was becoming overly anxious about incorporating every single piece of advice I read into my parenting style. Needless to say, I became even more stressed. (Now I usually spend my alone time knitting and watching PBS online.) Think about what you liked to do before you had children. Did you like music, books, working out or something else? If so, take this time to rediscover those pursuits. If you’re interested in trying something new, browse the Internet or check out your local library to find out what topics you might like to learn more about.
4) Make sure to take time for yourself and your partner. If you are married, you and your spouse need to keep your relationship healthy. Regular time together as a couple will help you to do that. If you can afford a reliable sitter, take a night every now and then to go out and get to know your spouse as your spouse, instead of as “Mommy” or “Daddy”. If a sitter is not available for you, have an at-home date. Use the time after your children go to bed to have a quiet meal or to watch a movie with your spouse.
5) Most of all, do not feel guilty! Regular alone time helps parents refresh themselves to continue being good parents. As you pursue your own interests, you set a good example for your children to do the same. You also teach them that it doesn’t take a superhuman to be a good parent. This will help them to be reasonable with themselves if they decide they want to be parents later on.
Parenting is hard work and it carries a weighty responsibility. Regular personal time can help to keep parenting enjoyable. If you’re a parent in desperate need of alone time, the above suggestions may help you to carve out the time for yourself that you’ve been missing.