Whether you’re a new or experienced parent, finding time to care for your own needs can be incredibly difficult. Parents are often working longer hours, even if they work from home. It’s expected that kids today participate in so many more sports and other extracurricular activities. That leaves many parents scrambling to get off work, run their kids to multiple events, get dinner on the table, and coming home to a messy house.
Modern schedules mean that a lot of the old strategies for finding self-care or “me” time just won’t work for most parents. So, we’ve come up with some practical tips for parents to reclaim personal time in this frenetic era.
One way to reclaim time is to coordinate responsibilities between you and your significant other. You can start by creating a group calendar for all family events, including work times for parents.
Devise a schedule on this group calendar that allows you to combine trips and assign events to the parent or caretaker closest to the child who needs transportation. If possible, adjust work schedules to avoid wasting time waiting in parking lots and pick-up lines.
Expert tip for parents: Use your community and neighbors. An even better idea is to start coordinating with other parents. Running a carpool system to and from the kids’ activities can save you time and gas money.
Create a weekly family meal plan with input from all family members. In addition to creating a menu, take some time on a weekend to prep large batches of ingredients, such as pre-chopping vegetables or measuring out chicken portions. When it comes time to cook, just pull the prepared foods out of the fridge and mix them together.
If you’re crunched for time, consider buying pre-made family meals or pre-marinated meat. Many supermarkets are offering these, as well as a number of restaurants and local eateries. Use these and cancel your subscription meal service to save some money. While they might be a little pricey to do every night, they can be ideal for that one night a week when you just can’t get cooking a meal to work out.
Start a quiet time habit
Getting kids into a bedtime routine can be hard, but the effort is worth it. Ideally, establish a routine that requires your children to be as independent as possible. As soon as they’re old enough, have kids shower and get dressed on their own. When they’re young, you’ll likely have to put in time reading them a story. As they grow older, keep their “bedtime” the same, but instead of requiring them to be asleep by 8:00, simply require them to have independent, quiet time at 8:00 before going to sleep on their own.
This will allow you to have an hour or more every night of uninterrupted time. Older kids will learn to use the time to play quietly, read, or do homework. Extra tip for parents: It may be beneficial to set a time to turn off all electronics.
Assign chores from an early age
You can teach children as young as two to pick up their toys. Once they’re a teenager, they should be able to do just about everything around the house that you can do. While teaching kids how to clean and make simple repairs will take longer than just doing the job yourself, over time, it will save you a lot of work. Kids gain confidence from doing things independently and helping the family, and learning responsibility is an important part of growing up.
As kids age, have chores assigned to each child and written on the family calendar. This allows everyone to see who is responsible for laundry or doing the dishes and ensures that things will get done around the house. If you start young, the kids will understand that everyone in the family has to work, and getting them to do their chores will be easier.
Pro tip for parents: Change the wifi password weekly or even daily to ensure teenagers finish their chores before getting on their phones and tablets. “Earn the Wi-Fi password when your chores are completed.”
Have a place the kids aren’t allowed
Not every part of your home has to be accessible to your kids at all times. It’s perfectly fine to have a room that the kids just don’t have access to. If you can’t spare a whole room, consider using a closet or just making a room such as a bathroom off limits during set hours each day. This gives you some privacy and a space to be an adult.
Teach your kids to play on their own
Children should be able to keep themselves amused for an amount of time equivalent to their age, multiplied by five minutes. While that’s probably not too helpful if you have very small children, it does mean that you should be able to carve out some time for yourself once they reach elementary school age. Set up safe areas in our home and outside that they can play in with minimal supervision. While it won’t allow you to go out to dinner, you will probably be able to watch a TV show or read a book in peace.
Even if you can only spare a few minutes daily, don’t be ashamed to take time for yourself. Studies show parents who care for their mental and physical health are better parents to their children. When you take care of yourself, you’re more able to deal with the emotional, mental, and physical needs of your kids.
Do you have a nanny or household manager? Share these 6 tips for parents so they can be in the loop on schedules, kids’ chores, meal planning, and more. Reach out to Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny at email@example.com if you are looking for extra assistance at home and with the kids. They will find you a caregiver meeting your family’s unique needs.
About The Author
Grace Wattikan, a blogger and mother, made it her mission to empower mothers globally through her work. She helps parents realize that being a parent and chasing your dreams can intertwine. Having built up her trade around long-distance parent relationships, she hopes to inspire others to reclaim their time and their mental wellness and live their best life with their little ones.