Not sure how to make time for yourself with children in tow? Check out these practical tips on how to make time for yourself as a parent.
Moms, we spend a lot of our time working, caring for kids and cleaning our homes.
You prepare breakfast, get the kids ready for school, juggle work, and deal with endless to-do lists. Any breaks you get feel like you ought to do even more, to stay productive. To get one step ahead of the hours that seem to slip so quickly.
So much so that any time to yourself—exercise, old hobbies—gets pushed to the bottom of the list.
Never mind that you see other moms continue to pursue hobbies and somehow find time for themselves. They’re exercising, baking, catching up on books… meanwhile, you’re ready to crash for the day.
And even if you’ve heard the common advice to have a life outside the kids, you don’t exactly know how to do just that.
How to make time for yourself as a parent
As demanding as life as a mom can be, finding time for yourself is still crucial, not only for your well-being but for that of your family. After all, they’d rather have a well-balanced, happy mom than one who “gets things done” but is always stressed and frazzled.
What are some tips on how to make time for yourself, even as a busy mom? And what are a few reasons why moms need alone time? Check out a few “me time” ideas you can do:
1. Find a hobby you can do at home
Maybe you were once an avid wine taster or a hiking fanatic. Or you’d hit the waves on your surfboard or watch a movie every weekend.
As a mom, you may not have too many opportunities for certain hobbies. You can’t exactly carve three hours to drive to the beach, much less take the kids with you for wine tasting.
But what if you focus on hobbies you can do at home?
For instance, you might dust the old piano or head to the backyard to do some gardening. You can borrow ebooks from the library, find 30-minute fitness videos online, or learn how to bake a loaf of bread.
Find or rekindle a hobby you can do at home, which are more feasible than those that need you to head outside.
Free ebook: Finding time for yourself as a parent is possible. Join my newsletter and get my ebook, Time Management Strategies for the Overwhelmed Mom! You’ll get more tips on how to better manage your time and feel less tired and overwhelmed. Download it below—at no cost to you:
2. Do fun things after the kids are asleep
Do you go to bed at the same time as the kids? Put them to bed at a consistently earlier hour so you can use the time between your bedtimes for yourself. If their bedtime is 7:30pm and yours is at 10pm, you get to enjoy 2.5 hours of time to yourself.
With the kids tucked in bed, you can read, watch movies, or pour yourself wine and eat cheese and crackers.
Many evenings get swallowed up by tasks and catch-up chores, so be intentional with setting certain nights to yourself. You might dedicate Friday evenings to movies at home, or the first 15 minutes of every night to a knitting project.
3. Do fun things with the kids
Can’t get away from the kids? Do fun things with them.
I know, I know… this doesn’t count as “time for yourself.” But if you’re looking for time to do fun things—anything besides chores and tasks—doing them with your kids can be the next best thing.
You don’t have to dedicate whole weekends, either. Plenty of downtime can be all it takes, from setting up a picnic in the backyard to playing board games in the living room.
Life doesn’t have to be devoid of everything you used to enjoy before becoming a mom. You just need to learn how to accommodate your kids.
4. Keep your home reasonably clean
Are you compelled to scrub the sink or wipe the stove each time so much as a smudge appears? As satisfying as it might be to keep a clean home, learn to let a lot of it go if it means finding more time for yourself.
Maybe that means you vacuum once a week instead of every day, or skip ironing a few clothes and hang them up straight from the dryer.
For many of us, our homes won’t be as sparkling clean as they might have been before we had kids. And we need to be okay with that—a reasonably clean home is more than fine.
5. Teach your kids to be more independent
One of the biggest reasons you might not have much time for yourself is because your kids need you 24/7.
Now, changing your toddler’s diaper or cooking their meals clearly need your help. But see which tasks and activities they can do themselves, even if it means spending more time upfront teaching them how to do so.
For instance, you might encourage them to:
- Play a game together
- Grab their own plates or utensils
- Read a book on their own
- Get dressed
- Play in the backyard
- Brush their teeth
The more independent your kids can be, the more time you have to yourself.
That said, age matters, too. Older kids are not only more independent, but are easier to take out and about, and can last longer in the day. Making time for yourself with a young infant is a difficult task that will eventually ease up as the months go by.
6. Spend time with friends and family
Spending time with others outside your immediate family can often take the backseat. After all, dedicating an hour and a half to a Zoom chat with relatives or friends eats up a chunk of your night. Never mind that your kids won’t exactly sleep in the next morning, leaving you more exhausted.
But friendships—connections, really—are important enough to mark your commitments on a calendar. They’ll give you a moment of respite, a reminder that you’re loved and belong. They’ll make you laugh, allow you to vent, and reassure you that you’re not alone.
Spending time with others also doesn’t have to happen frequently, either. Yes, you may have spent more time with friends back in college, but these days, once in a while hangouts are more than enough.
7. Have play dates with friends who have kids
Spending time with friends still making you feel guilty for being away from the kids? Combine the two and have a play date with their kids!
I love the dynamic of “family” play dates with friends of your own. You get to spend time with them while encouraging your kids to make or nurture friendships of their own.
Of course, in these times of quarantines and social distancing, play dates will are on hold. But down the line, hanging out with friends who have kids of their own is a fantastic way to enjoy your time.
To think that life can remain the same with kids in the picture is unrealistic. Life changes with kids. For many of us, becoming parents is the single biggest change we’ll face. Accept it, work with it, but remember that this is a new role we now have.
But here’s something I want to leave you with: you have to believe that you can make the time for yourself.
Have you met busy people? They’re the ones who have so much to do, but all that extra work still leaves them just as busy as they started off. People get stuck with busyness. No time management tools, apps or motivation can get them out of their rut.
We can always make or find the time for things that are important to us, including time for ourselves. Start a hobby you can do at home, or do fun things after the kids are asleep. If you can’t get away from them, do fun things with them.
Teach them to be more independent, from doing tasks to entertaining themselves. Keep your home reasonably—not impeccably—clean. Spend time with friends and family, even if over a video chat, and down the line, hang out with friends who have kids.
Being a mom is busy, but we can’t let ourselves believe that having no time for ourselves is our lot for a long while. Because even in the middle of a busy day, we can still catch a glimmer of joy and contentment, a bit of “me time” as a mom.
Get more tips:
- What to Do when Your Baby Needs to Be Entertained Constantly
- How to Balance Parenthood with the Rest of Your Life
- On Rediscovering Yourself After Motherhood
- 6 Reasons Motherhood Is Hard
- The Best Advice for New Parents (From Parents Who’ve Been There)
Finding time for yourself as a parent is possible. Check out more tips on how to better manage your time and feel less tired and overwhelmed. Join my newsletter and get my ebook, Time Management Strategies for the Overwhelmed Mom! Download it below—at no cost to you: