Carving Out Time for Yourself

I am a room parent for my son’s preschool class and, during orientation this year, we introduced ourselves and gave a “guilty pleasure.” For example, many people mentioned TV shows that they watch. But, why do things like this have to be a guilty pleasure?

I think it’s absolutely necessary for parents to do something for themselves and to make time for themselves. I make time for myself by exercising most mornings and I feel all the better for it. I get up before everyone one else in the house so I can have my personal time and still go about my normal parental and work activities. On weekends, I sometimes drive to a nice trail:

Dr. Deborah Gilboa, writing on sharecare.com, gave three good reasons to do things for yourself as a parent:

  • Lower your stress level. When you take time for yourself, you relax. When you relax, your blood pressure goes down, you smile more, you sleep better, and you have a more positive outlook – that’s good for you and your family
  • Help your family value you more by valuing yourself. When you pursue an interest, hobby, or activity that makes you happy, it can lead your child to show you more respect (because you are respecting yourself)
  • Children repeat parents’ patterns. If you value your passions or interests by making some time for them, your kids will grow up to do the same (hopefully). They learn by example, so if you are “calm and collected” thanks to your “you time,” they will remember that

Various articles suggest that time to yourself or with your spouse isn’t as selfish as it may sound. It can actually make for a stronger marriage, stronger family, and well-adjusted children. If you never leave your child with a sitter or grandparent, they won’t learn that it’s OK when you leave them. It’s also about identity – you are more than just “Mom” or “Dad.”

Sounds great, but how? Here are a few ideas:

  1. At-home movie night. Get your child/children in bed and queue up a new movie or an old favorite. Then, enjoy some snacks and maybe a drink
  2. Date-night kid swap. Set up a system with friends (or through the FC Parent Club) so that you can save costs on a night out. For example, once a month you take their kids for a night and on another night, they take your kids. The kids get a playdate and you get your adult time
  3. Take a walk. a 15-minute walk can make you feel better and allow you to collect your thoughts without all of the interruptions of home life
  4. Go to the gym, especially if your gym has childcare. While your spouse may be able to watch the kids for a bit, a gym with childcare lets you get in  a workout without additional guilt – No one is on the hook for additional single parent time

Time for yourself doesn’t have to be long and it doesn’t have to be complicated. It may sound difficult, but I really do recommend finding something. Anything. Regain some sanity and be a more patient parent. Lofty goals, I know. I have decidedly benefited from my alone time. My son is now 3 1/2 and he excitedly asks every morning if I went biking or running. I don’t know if he’s “proud” or me or not, but he know’s it’s my thing.

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