How Working Parents Can Find Time for Themselves

By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., ACCESS Media Relations Specialist
May 23, 2018

To say that everyone is busy these days is an understatement, and it’s particularly true for working parents.  All week long - and often all weekend long – their schedules are bursting at the seams. Work. After school activities. Play dates. Cooking. Helping with homework. Cleaning. Birthday parties. Grocery shopping. Bath time. Bedtime.

Parents often prioritize their children’s needs above their own. But as the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Pause. Take stock of your own well-being. You may be surprised by how low your reserves are. Carving out time for yourself shouldn’t be seen as indulgent or a luxury. It’s essential to your physical, mental and spiritual health. Plus, a healthier, happier you means a healthier, happier family.

How do you find time for yourself in the midst of the busy-ness? Our advice? Look for small ways to free up time. Even 10 or 15 minutes of time to yourself in the middle of a busy day can help you relax and recharge.

Ask for help. There’s a reason they say it takes a village. Ask grandparents and other trusted family members to hang out with your kids while you explore a local museum or simply go out for a movie. Or trade babysitting duties with other working parents. Every parent should have the benefit of some “me" time. 

Say “no.” It’s okay to decline requests or invites that stretch your schedule to the limits. Skip the PTA meeting. Pass on that event you just don’t have time for.

You don’t have to do it ALL. Let others manage responsibilities for themselves. Involve older children in dinner prep or packing lunches for the next day. Even little ones can set the table or help with other small tasks. Things will get done quicker, freeing up time later in the evening. Tackling chores as a family throughout the week also leaves more time for fun, too. As your kids get older, let them take on a larger role in household chores. Sure, the dishes may not be done exactly the way you would do them, but having one less task to tick off your list will free up some time in your busy day. Spend it on YOU.

Turn off your smartphone. Put your smartphone away for the evening, or designate a time each night to turn off notifications. In today’s digital world, it’s easy to get caught up in always being “on call.”

Don’t forget your spouse. The stresses of everyday life can take a toll on your relationship. Don’t be so focused on your kids that you forget to take care of each other. Plan a date night, and make it a regular thing. It doesn’t have to be an expensive or elaborate event. Have a late dinner by candlelight after the kids are tucked in for bed. Or snuggle up on the couch for a movie night.

Not everyone can afford to take time off work and splurge on a vacation. Taking care of yourself doesn’t have to be costly. Commit to taking time out of each day to do one of these suggested activities:

  • Go outside and get some exercise. Even walking for just 10 minutes has many health benefits.
  • Call a friend or loved one.
  • Write in a journal.
  • Read a book.
  • Practice mindfulness - meditate or spend time in prayer.
  • Have a relaxing cup of tea.
  • Take a bubble bath.
  • Spend time listening to your favorite music.
  • Eat right.
  • Take a nap.

It’s easy for parents to fall into a superhero mindset, thinking they have to be in charge and in control of every single thing. Learn to let go of some of the pressures and make yourself a priority.Regular self-care reduces stress, makes you happier and improves your overall mental, physical and emotional health.

From the time they are small to the taller-than-you teen years, your kids are always watching. Seeing you making good choices for yourself and making self-care a priority makes you a better role model for them.

 

Sources: 

PsychCentral

Boston Globe

Psychology Today