When you’re a busy parent, taking time for yourself can be a difficult task. How are you supposed to fit in all of the things that you want to do, when you’re so busy trying to keep your home (relatively) clean, you have a bunch of other commitments that you need to carry on with, and you’re trying to juggle everything else, too?
It can be hard, but there is nothing more important than looking after yourself mentally, and taking some time to enjoy yourself away from the world of parenting. We’ve put together some ideas, so that you can give yourself the break that you deserve.
Join a book club
Becoming a member of a book club is a great way to take some time for yourself, whilst also meeting some other people who are of a similar age group, and want to have interesting discussions. The day-to-day of parenting life can lead you to have those same discussions every day about pretty mundane things, and whilst this isn’t always a bad thing, it can make you feel as though you aren’t too mentally stimulated.
Not only will a book club enable you to spend time during the evening reading something enchanting, but you’ll get to meet people to discuss it, too. Check out the options in your local area if you’re interested in this.
Ask for help
If you feel like you’re getting no time to yourself because you’re always at home looking after your kids, don’t be afraid to ask somebody to babysit, even if it is only for one night a month. Whether this enables you to have some time out alone, or it gives you an opportunity to meet your friends for a while, it is certainly worthwhile reaching out to somebody that you trust to give you a hand with looking after the kids sometimes. You may feel guilty about this for a number of reasons – perhaps because somebody will be giving up their free time for you – but your loved ones won’t mind doing this, especially if they can see that you need a break.
Keep your dating life alive
Whether you’re a single parent, or you’re with your spouse or partner, it is really important to ensure that your dating life is still continuing despite the fact that you’re a busy parent. This is where the babysitter will come in useful, so make sure that you always try and make time (and the necessary arrangements) to carry on going on date nights, and to keep your romantic side alive.
You can fall into that well-known trap, where you and your partner only talk about the kids and who is going to pick them up from the swimming class on Wednesday, so having some time out together will be beneficial for you both, and your relationship.
Learn when to say ‘no’
As a parent, you have so many commitments, and you may feel as though you have to do certain things, as there are many expectations put upon you. Have you been asked to help out at the school again, or are you always babysitting for your family members?
There is nothing bad about helping out sometimes (of course) but you may be trying to take on too much out of a fear of saying no, and it could be eating into the time that you’d like to spend to yourself. It is OK to be a little bit defensive of this time – in fact, it is probably a good idea – so don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ once in a while. You’re only human, and you can’t do everything.
Start studying again
A common misconception that people have about parenthood is that you have children, and life as you know it is completely over. No more time for doing what you want to do, you have responsibilities now! However, you can still be a great parent and take time for yourself, and a great way to do this is to start studying again.
You can do online courses, at places like the Exeter Online Education School, and fit them around your schedule as a parent. You can also go part-time if you want to, so there is no need to take on too much if you don’t think that you have the time. If you want to advance your studies, don’t wait around, as you may just keep putting it off!
Spend time with your friends
As you grow older, and your friends all start to have kids, too, you all seem to drift apart a little. This is completely normal, as you can all get consumed by the chaos of daily life, but make sure that you put some time aside to have a catch up with your friends, even if you have to schedule it quite a few weeks in advance.
Give everybody enough time to find a babysitter (or to ensure that their significant other will be around) and get a date down in your diaries. You need to make the effort here, as it can prove difficult to get everybody together, but you’ll be glad that you did when you can unwind with all of your close friends, and have a bit of a break, too.
So, if you’re a busy parent, it can seem like getting some time to yourself is just not going to happen. Even if you make the time, you may feel an overwhelming sense of guilt about it, as if you shouldn’t be having a life outside of your role as a Mum or Dad, and this is completely natural.
However, you need to remember that everybody needs a break sometimes, and parenting is a full-time job (and a pretty difficult one, at that). Try out some of these simple things, and see whether they can give you back a little bit of autonomy, even if it is only for a few hours a week. You’ll see the difference in yourself, and so will everybody around you!