Creating A “Me-Time” For Busy Working Parents

Life after having kids is a radical change. You’re no longer the same person who tends to your needs first. The first action you take when you wake up might be to comfort your crying infant or cook breakfast for your preschooler. Your ‘free time’ is now spent running errands, fulfilling your parental duties instead of resting after work. You just might be barely having time for yourself.

Everyday is a whirlwind trying to balance your job and your work as a parent. But setting a ‘me-time’ is just as important as taking care of your family. It spells the difference between thriving and just coping.

Balancing work and taking care of your children is a really tough but rewarding job, and the global pandemic has added so many complications and worries. Let me just virtually salute all hard-working parents for staying sane and productive! It’s amazing. 

Let this year be an opportunity for us to pour some time for ourselves, too.

Importance Of Me-Time For Working Parents

‘Me-time’ for working parents may seem like a scarce opportunity, or even non-existent. Some parents even have the mindset that me-time can come later. But it’s important to make time for yourself, no matter how little that time is every day. 

1. It Helps You Avoid Burnout.

Without proper time for yourself, everyday can seem like a chore and you might end up dreading everything in your life. You lose sight of who you are, and it seems like a hopeless tunnel with no light at the end. Burnouts lead to depression and increase the likelihood of sickness. 

By pausing for a while and taking some time alone, you allow yourself to breathe and relax. You give yourself time to appreciate and savor other experiences outside the box that you can’t see when you’re too focused on your job and your responsibilities as a parent.

2. It Releases Stress And Improves Your Focus.

Stress can make you feel detached from yourself and your family. When you’re stressed, you constantly feel the need to accomplish everything even if it means setting yourself aside. 

You become a better parent when you give yourself some time to pause, breathe and destress rather than trudging through all your responsibilities mechanically.
Eric Champ | Founder Champ City Holistic Fitness
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Taking some ‘me-time’ allows you to unwind and relieve that overwhelming feeling of juggling household chores, your job and your responsibilities as a parent. You are more than the sum of your to-do lists.

You become a better parent when you give yourself some time to pause, breathe and de stress rather than trudging through all your responsibilities mechanically.

3. You Become Healthier And Happier.

We parents often say we’re content seeing our kids happy. Their laugh is music to our ears and their smiles are the greatest artwork we love to see over and over again. 

Think of it this way: you’ll enjoy and contribute to those smiles and laughter if you’re healthy and happy yourself.

Me-time means exercising and practicing mindfulness, both very important for health. You give yourself a peaceful time to decompress and hear your own thoughts, even if those thoughts revolve around your kids, too. 

You make yourself stronger physically and mentally to figure out how to handle stressful situations in a healthy way and discover more ways on how to satisfy yourself. 

It’s a cycle of healthy actions leading to a healthier mind and your healthy mind helping you make healthy, smart decisions. 

Saving Some Time For Yourself

Raising children while working your way up to the corporate ladder, or managing your family business is no joke.

Me-time should stop inducing guilt. It’s a healthy and essential part of being a parent. You give yourself breathing room to unload stress and exhaustion so you can have a clearer perspective about your goals. Sometimes, that’s the reset we all need. 

Here are some ways on how you can create some time for yourself.

1. Establish Boundaries.

Life and job commitments should never overlap with each other. If your boss calls or emails you after working hours, decide if you’re available or not. 

Leave your work behind at the end of your shift. If you work from home, have a clear schedule of your start and finish times, and separate your work space from the family areas. Some working parents reserve nights and weekends for their family.

If you have a partner, divide home responsibilities. List down everything that needs to be done on a daily, weekly or monthly basis and discuss who does this and that for a certain day. 

Talk about the expectations you both have so you can both work and have me-time while taking care of your family. 

2. Quit Multitasking.

Set realistic expectations and know how much time should be spent on household chores, and regardless of how effective multitasking can sound like, try not to juggle multiple tasks at once.

You perform better when you’re focused on one task at hand. When you’re at work, stop worrying about the home repairs you have to do. When you’re helping your children with their homework, don’t plan what to put in your grocery list.

Create a plan on what you need to accomplish for each day and set realistic time blocks for each of them. As much as possible, follow the time blocks you’ve set. Allotting time also works to tell your brain to wait for that specific schedule. It eases your mental load.

3. Set House Rules.

Most of us grew up responsible because our training ground was our home when we were kids. Our parents taught us how to do the household chores before going out with our playmates, or before watching our favorite cartoons.

Do the same thing to your family. Delegate tasks to your partner and to your kids. You don’t just get the tasks done faster, but you also get to enjoy sweet, productive memories with the whole family.

Teach your kids to clean up their bed after waking up. That’s good training for keeping themselves organized. Set some rules to keep the house clean and create schedules who will do the dishes after every meal. Aside from getting the chores done faster, you’re also teaching your kids how to be responsible.

4. List Down Achievable Daily Goals.

Writing things down means quieting all the tasks screaming for attention in your head. There’s a reason so many parents love list-making.

List down your goals and make sure they’re achievable in a specific time period you’ve set for them. Strategize your action plan and leave a window for your ‘me-time’.

Visualizing your plans and goals makes it easier for you to analyze the time frames and figure out what time or day of the week you can enjoy for yourself, and what specific tasks you can drop or delegate to someone else.

Put your list in a place where you can easily see it. Post it in your refrigerator with a magnet, or in your memo board if you have one.

‘Me-Time’ Ideas

Putting your best self forward requires difficult choices especially if you’re a parent, even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone and setting yourself aside. But finding and creating at least small spaces for yourself should still be a priority.

Yes, easier said than done, right? But if it’s the guilt that’s keeping you from practicing self-care, quit it. Start your year right with a ‘me-time’ mindset through these self-care ideas and activities.

1. Get Enough Rest.

Sleep is me-time. Prioritize your sleep and maybe catch naps during the day. Schedule your sleep just like how you schedule your other tasks both at work and at home. It will give you the energy you need to handle everything.

Enforce your kids’ bedtime too. It’s good training for them to go to bed at the same time each night. If you have an infant, sleep training is one of the most anticipated milestones that make parents smile. Hang in there until your baby reaches that age. 

2. Make Time For Meditation And Yoga.

Mindfulness helps you tune yourself better. Spend your quiet time alone by practicing meditation and yoga. It will help you slow down your thoughts, release negativity and calm your mind.

Practicing meditation regularly can help you alleviate stress and combat its negative effects on your overall health. (1) When you meditate, you gain a new perspective on how to handle situations and keep yourself anchored to the present rather than dwelling on your negative emotions. 

Yoga involves gentle but powerful movements that relieve pain and make you stronger. Any soreness from handling your kids and work can be resolved by yoga. 

Meditation and yoga don’t require much. All you need is a peaceful spot in your home where you can comfortably sit or perform asanas.

Spread out your yoga mat and do some stretches while focusing on your breathing. That’s already meditation. This will help you manage and release your negative emotions in a healthy way.

3. Take An Hour Off Doing Nothing.

This should be a non-negotiable. It shouldn’t make you guilty. This can be part of your meditation time. Wake up earlier than usual so you’re not hurrying for the day the minute you get out of bed, or make this a part of your bedtime routine.

Really don’t do anything. Don’t watch TV or check your phone. Just take some time to stare out your window or sit in bed or in the tub.

A small idle time can save you from stress and frustration and help you remain mindful when you go through your to-do list later on.

4. Work Out.

A study suggests that one of the effective ways to relieve stress and anxiety is to spend some time doing aerobic exercises like jogging, cycling and dancing (2).

Seize the opportunity to work out whenever you can. Lift some weights, do some calisthenics, ride an upright bike, go up and downstairs, or follow a dance workout on YouTube. It can take 10 minutes at a time, or a full 30 minutes when the house is asleep. 

It’s a habit that will do you a world of good for each day.

Don’t know where to start? Consult a wellness coach to help you create a quick, personalized workout routine tailored to your schedule and guide you throughout the process.

5. Have Some Time With Other Adults.

Schedule a day out at least once a month. Catch up with your peers and enjoy an hour or two chatting with them. Go on a date. Go see the movie you’ve been wanting to watch. Eat in your favorite restaurant.

Make the first Friday of each month a lunch date with your best friend, for example. Or dedicate at least one or two Saturdays inviting your neighbors for dinner and having your kids a movie night along with everyone’s kids. If you’re still iffy about going out, set up video calls with friends. You can even chat while doing chores. 

Key Takeaways

Being a parent is probably the hardest, but most fulfilling job. It doesn’t have to take over your whole life, however. You maintain your inner peace and tend to your family better when you spend some time for yourself too. It’s not something to feel guilty about. You need it. Every parent does.

Balancing your time and energy between yourself and your responsibilities at work and at home will help you prevent burnout and steer you away from any resentment or bitterness about being too exhausted and overworked by your job and your kids.

It’s smarter and healthier to include yourself in this year’s plans.


Resources:

  1. Janssen, M., Heerkens, Y., Kuijer,W., van der Heijden, B. & Engels, J. (2018) Effects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on employees’ mental health: A systematic review https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0191332
  2. Sharma, A., Madaan, V. & Petty, F. (2006) Exercise for Mental Health https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1470658/

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