Family, Self

8 Ways To Take Time For YOU (When You Have Kids And Life Is Craaazy)

Photo: weheartit
8 Ways To Take Time For YOU

Working on your relationship and being the best parent you can be are wonderful challenges, but sometimes you need time just for yourself.

In fact, "you time" may be one of the keys to enjoying stronger relationships with both your partner and your kids.

If you don’t feel like you have sufficient time for yourself in midst of all the parenting, here are some strategies that may help you with how to have "me time" with kids:

1. Take time to exercise.

The CDC recommends that everyone exercise at least 150 minutes per week. Ideally, that’s 30 minutes for five days per week. If carried out consistently, this regular workout will go beyond keeping your body healthy; it will also help your mind.

You’ll release stress and feel more mentally prepared for the lack of sleep, whining children, and other challenges of being a parent. Between work, parenting, and time spent with your partner, it’s not easy to make time for exercise. But it is possible.

You might join a gym that includes a daycare or squeeze in 15-minute bursts of physical activity throughout the day.

2. Learn to identify and manage signs of stress.

Stress signs indicate when your patience is waning. You may start feeling overwhelmed and you need a break. If you can identify and manage signs of stress, you’re more likely to take the time for yourself when it’s necessary. 

Common stress signs include, but are not limited to:

  • Irritability
  • Impatience
  • Speaking louder or yelling
  • Rising blood pressure (which can make you feel light-headed)
  • Lapses in judgment
  • Harsh or unkind words
  • Low energy

As you can imagine, these symptoms are not good for relationships with either your partner or your kids. When you notice these stress signals and take a time-out for yourself, you can salvage relationships and avoid making mistakes you might regret.

Communicate to your partner and your kids that you need a short break to get back to yourself.

3. Meditate or practice yoga.

Both meditation and yoga do wonders for helping to restore your mental health. Just 10 minutes to practice this kind of beneficial exercise can help you feel better.

Meditation doesn’t necessarily require sitting cross-legged on the floor and humming. It’s more about finding a quiet space and breathing deeply. Use the time to let go of what’s bothering you. Relaxing yoga moves can have the same result of alleviating the stress before it becomes overwhelming.

4. Schedule a regular outing with friends.

If you schedule it, you’re more likely to stick with it. You might like a weekly book club, dinner outing, or movie night with others. Work it out with your partner so that he or she will take charge of childcare, and you’ll get a couple of hours out of the house. It can help to meet with people who are going through a similar situation.

Create a support group with other parents who crave a short break in the name of restored mental health.

5. Wake up earlier or stay up later.

Reorganizing your sleep schedule might make all the difference if it gives you an extra two hours in the early morning or late at night when everyone else is asleep. That will be your time to read, work on projects, or pursue other hobbies.

Be sure to avoid using this time solely for chores. You might spend the first 15 minutes picking up after the kids are in bed, but the rest of the time should be for you to do what you love.

6. Make nap time "you time".

If you’re a stay-at-home parent, naptime is a sacred time to accomplish what you can’t when the kids are awake. You could use that time to clean or pay bills, but try to make it "you time" at least a few times each week.

You could take a nap, exercise at home, or do anything else for yourself. It’s a precious and rare opportunity to just be you…not a parent or a partner in a relationship.  

7. Shop at child-friendly stores.

Get your shopping done where the kids don’t have to come along. Stores like IKEA and Fred Meyer often have supervised play areas so you can drop your kids off there while you shop. There’s no harm in sitting down in the store’s café for a few minutes, either.

If you’re worried about dropping off your kids with strangers, you can always ask to see their credentials or discuss the childcare center with a manager. Most of the time, these stores bring in certified childcare workers so customers can rest at ease while they shop.

8. Identify a hobby.

It’s not uncommon to find yourself lost for words when someone asks you what you like to do in your spare time. It might have been awhile since you felt as if you had any spare time, let alone got to use it for something fun.

Figure out what you like to do most. You might enjoy being outdoors, going for a run, reading books, or gardening. Once you’ve identified a beloved hobby, make enjoying it a priority.

This time spent for you isn’t selfish but rather a needed escape so you can be more present and content when you spend time with your kids and partner.

Paula Mooney is the author of several books (most written under pseudonyms to protect the guilty), her essays and articles have been featured in national print magazines such as Writer's Digest, and in major online publications like Yahoo, Examiner and more.

Watch parenting Expert Sheila O'Malley share tips on how to cope with stress as a parent.