'You can't pour from an empty cup'
I love that quote. It reminds you that as a parent, you cannot give your best to your children if you are completely depleting your own energy and well-being.
We've all heard that parents need to make time for self-care, but that can be difficult when you always have your children by your side. If you are a stay-at-home parent, a work-from-home parent, or the parent of a special needs child, sneaking off for some alone time may seem impossible.
Here are five ways to sneak in some time for yourself when it feels like the kids are always with you.
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1. Join a gym
Many gyms have a daycare where you can drop your children off while you get a workout in. Some for up to two hours!
Your child can color, play, and watch movies while you boost your endorphins! Hit the treadmill, join a workout class, or sit in the locker room with a book for a while. Do what you need.
Pro Tip: Download whatever streaming app you use on your phone and time up your gym time with the release of your favorite show. Then you can get some steps in while you binge watch!
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2. Take turns with your partner or a friend
Take turns watching the kids for an afternoon or evening while you each take time for yourselves. Grab dinner with a friend, go to a yoga class, take up a new hobby, or whatever makes you happy! Don't forget together time too though! It's important to make time for each other as well.
Are you a single parent? Team up with a friend or parent and take turns watching each other's kids. The kids will have fun playing together, and you will get the alone time you so desperately need ... without having to pay for a babysitter!
Rebecca and her children.
3. Find a hobby to do ... with your kids
This isn't exactly alone time, but I have found by including my children in my favorite interest and hobby I can both fill my cup and spend quality time with my kids. Start them young and your hobbies and interests may quickly become some of your kids' favorite interests and hobbies too! Some fun things I have introduced my own children to over the years are baking, hiking, yoga, and rock climbing. Nothing fills my cup like seeing my own kids enjoy an activity that I love!
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4. Institute a quiet time
If your children are past nap age, you may miss that hour or two of alone time every afternoon. During the height of the pandemic, I began "Quiet Time" with my two children every day after lunch. We made a list of activities ahead of time that they could do, and we reviewed expectations. Basically, I wanted them to stay in their room, be safe, and give me a little time to get a few things done. It wasn't punishment for them, but a chance for all of us to have some alone time.
Before Quiet Time began, they had the option to gather any toys they may want, and then I set a timer and set it outside of their rooms. I began with ten minutes and gradually worked my way up to thirty. As a reward for completing Quiet Time successfully, I let them earn their tablet time for the day.
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5. Allow screen time
It has taken me a while to get to this point, but I no longer see screen time as something evil to be avoided at all costs!
Sometimes you need a half hour to yourself and screens can offer that reprieve. There are some incredible educational apps and shows out there that can make you feel a little better about TV or tablet time. Give yourself some grace and enjoy a half hour (or two... no judgment here!) of quiet.
Taking care of yourself while caring for your children is not only possible but necessary ... so you don't end up with an empty cup. When you feel healthy and happy, everyone around you will benefit from that joy!
Rebecca Seidenberger is the publisher of Macaroni KID Allentown, Pa., and Macaroni KID Bethlehem, Pa.