It can feel darn near impossible to secure some child-free time, especially if you’ve got little ones–toddlers, preschoolers and kindergartners are notorious. They become bathroom audiences, assistant chefs, shopping buddies and unwelcome shower crashers. And while you know these days of little hands and chubby cheeks are short, and should be cherished…it definitely can become very trying very fast. When it comes to securing a block of time for just you, there are only two basic steps:
1) Schedule, Schedule, Schedule!
First thing’s first–if you don’t pencil yourself some free time into your already cluttered and wild mom schedule, you’ll never just get to it. Ever. Set aside two chunks of time every day that you can devote to you–why two? Because if one gets kicked aside through some unforeseen circumstance (it happens), then you won’t be completely out of luck! Your mom time can grow and change as your child does–if they crash for an hour at three in the afternoon, that’s great–seize that time and make it your own! You can even wake up a little earlier than your child to squeeze in a few minutes for quiet reflection and that precious cup of coffee–if you’re feeling up to it, of course.
Find two times every day that you can step back, take a deep breath, and relax.
You might be wondering who can possibly swing that much time alone. The answer lies in step two…
2) Support Staff
If you’ve committed two times every day to your care and sanity, it’s time to enlist some help. Your spouse or partner, parent, sibling or close, trusted friend can be just the saving grace you need. Teach your family the importance of your alone time–let them know that you value the time, you use it well, and you come out the other side feeling refreshed and confident. So how do you go about getting your spouse on board?
It’s important to validate your spouse’s need for “alone time”, also–make sure they know you’re willing to give them the gift of some child-free time, too. It can help them see the benefit–you can come back to the situation happier and feeling great. When you and your spouse or partner can both get some time to recuperate, your relationship will grow stronger too!
What if you’re a single mother? Or if your spouse/partner is unsupportive?
Take the kids to a willing family member’s house–sure, this can be grandma and grandpa (odds are, your mother or mother-in-law knows exactly what you’re going through, as they were in your shoes once too, you know), but also your grown siblings, close cousins, even aunts or uncles might be will be happy to take the kids off your hands for a while. All you have to do ask!
You can also arrange a babysitting co-op with one friend or a group–that way, mothers just like you who might be a little frazzled can count on snagging some extra hours every week to work on projects, take a looong bath, or just take a nap. Moms supporting moms–we like the sound of that!
(Bonus Round: if your kids are old enough, you can teach them the value of your time alone, and put them in front of a favorite movie, show or video game–easy peasy.)
What can you do with your newfound time? The options are endless–some mothers use this time to work on organizing their homes and schedules. Others set out to make new things–new crafts, art, recipes. You can write in a journal, go for a run, do yoga, take a class. Do what makes you happy–even if that means eating a chocolate bar without having to hide in the pantry.
Moms, believe us–you need this. Investing some time in you and your care will keep you strong and healthy–mentally, emotionally and physically.