Life as a parent can be extremely rewarding but it is also incredibly demanding every second of every day.
Have you ever considered dating yourself? Hear me out – it’s actually incredibly valuable and could be exactly what you need right now. Life as a parent can be extremely rewarding but it is also incredibly demanding every second of every day and sometimes, as parents, we just need to be alone.
We talk about the importance of a date night with that special someone in your life but alone time as a parent is just as important. On a daily basis, you are called, needed, touched or soiled upon roughly seven thousand times. It is an oblivion of being required. If you are not preparing food you are wiping bums and attending to cuts and grazes. If it’s not homework it’s laundry (you needed some alone time and the utility room is a great hiding spot) and if you have to break up another fight you just might lose your mind. You are so infinitely needed and it is exhausting. It’s really OK to admit that. It’s actually good for you.
In the midst of parenthood, it is important to find as many opportunities as possible to just be. It is a breath of fresh air to have the luxury of not having to think about anyone but yourself even for a small period of time. To grab your handbag (yes you DO still have one) and “good coat” and just do something pleasant by yourself. It might be a stroll around the shops, coffee and cake solo or just a walk in the park listening to a podcast as you take in your surroundings and some fresh air. Even just an hour of alone time can give you a different perspective on everyday life and stress.
If guilt is your issue listen up. The wonderful thing about giving yourself the gift of some alone time is that everyone will benefit. I bet you’ll shout less, listen more and actually find daily parenting life easier. Your kids, wife, husband, friends and work colleagues need you but not at the cost of you completely burning yourself out. We give our loved ones the best of us when we have a clear head and don’t resent the lack of breathing space. It’s a win-win for everyone.
This one might require good communication though. You might need to speak up and chat to your other half about the fact that this is something you need. Extra-curricular activities, sports and commitments might take up several nights in the week. Finding one evening or block of time that allows you to hand the torch over and disappear for an hour is not a huge amount to ask but as always communication really is key.
There are some practical things that can really help make alone time more possible. Smalls things that you can do differently which might just free your time up a little bit.
1. You could make double the dinner some evening
This works really well for one-pot dishes like chilli, curry and stews. It means you don’t have to cook the next night because the leftovers cover another evening meal for everyone. That could free you up for an hour to head out for a walk.
2. Do bath time earlier
Have you always associated bath as a just-before-bed thing for the kids? Shake things up and make your own rules. We regularly have a bath before dinner (but only on nights when dinner is not a messy saucy affair) and it frees me up that evening. It also nicely fills up “that” awkward part of the day (4-6) in our house where sleepiness and crankiness is rife.
3. Make school lunches while you are making dinner
It means when the kitchen is “closed” it really is closed so you won’t have to do any more cleaning up. It will also give you more time in the morning to enjoy a longer shower or hot coffee knowing that it’s been done from the day before.