Making time for you

10 Simple Ways for Parents to Recharge

By Kate Kelly

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Do you feel like you’re running on empty? You’re not alone. All parents feel like this at times. And parenting a child with learning and attention issues can be especially draining. Here are 10 easy ways to recharge when your energy reserves are running low.

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Close up of a couple standing outside taking in the view from a bridge
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Take it outside.

What better way to lift your mood than a change of scenery, a breath of fresh air and a bit of sunlight? Even if you have just 10 minutes, a brisk walk around the block can give you a quick jolt of energy.

Woman sitting in her home office reviewing paperwork
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Let go of perfection.

When things go wrong and you make a mistake, give yourself a break. Let’s say you get an email from your child’s teacher saying you forgot to send in a permission slip. Quiet that critical internal voice and re-frame. Maybe tell yourself it’s nice that the teacher reached out and that fortunately, your child can still go on the trip.

Father and son on hands and knees working in the yard together
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Grow a garden.

For some people, there’s something addictive about digging in the dirt. It’s both soothing and energizing. You get immediate rewards from weeding and long-term satisfaction from watching something beautiful grow. Don’t have space for a garden? You can get some of the same stress-busting effects by growing a small herb garden that will be pretty—and spice up meals.

Husband and wife snuggling on bed
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Get enough sleep.

You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth repeating. Sleep is restorative. Switch off the computer, the TV, the lights and your cell phone. Keep the room cool and comfortable. After a good night’s sleep, you’ll wake up refreshed and energetic, much more able to cope with life’s ups and downs.

Group of male friends working out at a gym and socializing
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Don’t forget to exercise.

A walk, a bike ride, a class at the gym and other physical activities boost the production of feel-good hormones known as endorphins.

Husband and wife picking out gardening supplies together at a hardware store
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Shake things up.

Sign up to run a 5K or take a class. Check out the classes your school district offers through its adult education courses. Brush up on your computer skills, take a photography class or even tango lessons. Getting out of the house, meeting people, and taking on a new challenge can be energizing.

Close up of a man working on a computer at home
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Practice saying no.

If volunteer commitments or favors for friends are more exhausting than rewarding, politely decline. Gently say something like, “I’m so sorry. I just can’t help out now. But please think of me again.” The fundraiser will manage without you, and you’ll have more time to focus on other activities that will be rewarding.

Woman listening to music with headphones while cleaning
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Crank the tunes.

Create a playlist of your favorite happy songs. Mundane chores like unloading the dishwasher or straightening the living room are a lot less tedious with music.

Man sitting in his home office talking to a friend on the phone
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Call a friend.

When you need a lift, reaching out to a friend can perk you up. Even better, don’t wait until you’re feeling low. Staying social is a great buffer against stress.

Man sitting alone outside on a park bench enjoying the view
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Claim quiet time.

Find at least 15 minutes a day for yourself. This could be first thing in the morning before everyone else is up, or at the end of the day when the kids are in bed. Either way, it’s a good idea to let others know that it’s important for you to have this “me” time—free of interruptions—so you can focus on yourself. Explore free ways to arrange alone time.

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About the Author

Portrait of Kate Kelly

Kate Kelly has been writing and editing for more than 20 years, with a focus on parenting.

Reviewed by

Portrait of Sheldon Horowitz

Sheldon H. Horowitz, Ed.D., is senior director of learning resources and research at the National Center for Learning Disabilities.

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