Having kids may feel like the death toll of personal leisure, but it doesn’t have to be. With a little work and planning, you can balance your children’s needs with your own R&R.
Don’t feel guilty about prioritizing time for yourself. You aren’t neglecting your children by taking time for self-care: you’re keeping yourself in emotional and physical shape for parenting.
Be realistic: you can’t just add “parenting small children” to the list of everything you did before. Be willing to let go of some TV time, spotless housekeeping, or “moving up” at work.
Half-minded attention is as bad as none, so don’t try to simultaneously check email and play with your kids. Besides feeding child insecurity, multitasking saves no real time: it’s too stressful and concentration-impairing. And it conditions your brain to see “always busy” as normal, until you can’t relax even when alone.
Firm schedule boundaries are essential to preserve personal time. Especially if you’re a stay-at-home parent surrounded by “one more things” to do, commit yourself (with family accountability) to stopping work at the same daily hour, going to bed at the same hour, and spending your last two waking hours relaxing with non-screen activities.
One way to get more done and still save time for yourself, is to have an organized system so the whole family shares the housework. Besides being more efficient, the teamwork approach lowers stress and nurtures togetherness.
“Not doing everything for your kids” shouldn’t stop with household chores. Create a home environment that encourages children to entertain themselves (preferably without screens) and try things on their own initiative. As they discover the value of “me time,” they’ll also leave you more personal time.
“Lounging around” is highly useful for freeing the mind to dream, plan, and meditate. Save yourself regular time for soaking in the tub or sitting outdoors (sans smartphone), and encourage your kids to practice this approach as a “boredom” cure.
Don’t neglect the golf, embroidery, or gardening you love. Even if you have to schedule it more meticulously, you can still enjoy it regularly—and demonstrate to your children that life doesn’t have to be all about “duty.”
Save a couple of hours every week for a Zoom chat or coffee outing. If your friends also have young children, you can combine an adult visit with a play date. And don’t forget regular “date nights” with your spouse!
To use some of the above tips effectively, you may need a babysitter or other caretaker for the children. Try to have the same person consistently at the same time(s): reduced planning means reduced stress, and your children will appreciate the stability of a regular pattern. And they’ll learn from your example that a well-organized life can be fun!
SHADY OAK MAKES LEARNING FUN
While we all value rest and relaxation—and most people don’t get enough of it—legitimate work needn’t be incompatible with enjoyment. At Shady Oak, we emphasize active, play-based learning as the most effective approach to schooling. Our students get their daily allowances of pure fun, rest breaks, outdoor time, and project-based learning, to master the skills they really need to thrive as participating members of society. Contact us today to learn more about our approach!
Blessings to parents and children of all ages!