Children with learning and attention issues can require a lot of time and energy. It’s easy for parents to fall into the trap of doing so much for our kids that we do nothing for ourselves. We may feel guilty for wanting a break. Or we believe it’s somehow not possible.
Getting some time away from the kids is crucial to your sanity—and you can make it happen. A little bit of “me time” will leave you feeling refreshed. Here are six ways to take time for yourself without spending a penny.
1. Wake up a little earlier.
Having a cup of coffee or tea in peace can do wonders for your psyche. Resist the temptation to fold laundry or take care of other household chores. Instead, do something for you. Email a friend to suggest a walk or coffee. Buy (or reserve from the library) that book you’ve been wanting to read. How will you find time to read that book or meet for coffee? Read on…
2. Take a day off from work.
Schedule a vacation day when the kids are at school. See a movie, invite a friend for lunch, or reorganize your closet if its messiness has been a source of stress. On the other hand, if you feel like vegging on the couch and watching TV movies, do not feel one ounce of guilt!
3. Play give-and-take with your partner.
Tell your spouse you’d like a couple hours on the weekend to do…whatever. Spend a few kid-free hours away from home. Remember to encourage your spouse to take some time for himself. If you both get time to yourselves, everyone wins.
4. Schedule time for you.
Want to take a tennis clinic through the recreation department, or join a book group? Take the concept of trading time with your spouse one step further. When your “me time” is on the calendar, you’re more likely to make it happen. After a while, everyone gets used to the fact that you’re gone every Saturday morning or Thursday night for an hour or two.
5. Trade babysitting with another parent.
Is there another parent in your circle who has a child who plays well with yours? If you think you each could manage the other’s child solo, ask if she’d be interested in swapping child care. The kids get a playdate and one of you gets some time alone.
6. Enforce bedtime.
Getting your kids to bed at a reasonable hour leaves you with a little time at the end of the day. If your schedule is so hectic you can’t ever connect with friends on weekends or during the day, perhaps a post-bedtime get-together at your house would work.
Getting some time away can make you feel more patient and energized. After you’ve had a break, you’ll likely have more energy to focus on your kids. Be sure to give them each a bit of your undivided attention. After all, one of the nicest things about getting away for a while is coming back.