How Parents Can Find More “Me” Time

It’s not indulgent, it’s a necessity

Being a parent is a full-time job. And for some of us it’s a full-time job on top of our actual full-time jobs — which leaves us with very little room for anything else. According to a new survey by Munchery, a meal delivery service, parents only have 32 minutes to themselves a day. That’s hardly enough time for a nice hot shower, let alone to decompress. Which is why it’s okay to consider outsourcing some less-than-exciting household tasks that probably take up a lot of your time. Here’s how you can find more “me” time and not at the expense of your wallet.

Pencil it in.

As a parent, the problem with “me” time is that it’s often associated with guilt. “Parents feel guilty for taking time to themselves because there is always one more person or thing who needs their attention,” says Monica Froese, founder of Redefining Mom. Froese says that parents are conditioned to constantly say yes to the perpetual demands on their time — but they don’t have to. “Parents taking time for themselves is not indulgent, it’s a necessity,” says Froese. She suggests putting your ”me” time on your calendar and treating it like any other commitment you have.

Outsource.

I love to cook, so when I get home from a long day of work it doesn’t hang over my head like other tasks do. But for others, cooking may be a dreadful, time consuming chore. Whatever household task you despise, consider outsourcing it. Because time is money, after all. “You can always get more money, but you cannot get more time,” says Andrew Wittman, Author of Seven Secrets of Resilience for Parents. “When you outsource chores don’t waste the time gained, schedule and then use the time saved for “me” time, not on more chores or unimportant ‘urgent stuff.’”

And if your budget doesn’t allow outsourcing, Scarlet Paolicchi of Family Focus Blog suggests dividing up the work tasks with your family or spouse. She also suggests taking some chores out of the rotation that may not matter as much. (Is anyone really going to notice if the shelves only get dusted every other week?) Another way you can free up time for free is if you have a friend or neighbor who can take turns with you watching your kids or carpooling. You can also try bartering your not-so-dreaded tasks with someone. Offer to pick up their groceries in exchange for childcare. Walk their dog with yours one day, then allow them to do the same the next day for you. You may not be getting more free time if you trade services, but at least you’ll enjoy your time doing it.

Feel better.

The most selfish thing you can do as a parent is to put your own needs last says Wittman. He adds that this seems counterintuitive but will end in sure-disaster if left unchecked. “Think of the safety brief on an airline before takeoff. The oxygen mask, if it drops, goes on your own face first, then help the kids put their own. If you pass out by trying to take care of the kids first, no one will be there to actually help the kids,” says Wittman.

When you are running on an empty tank, it’s really hard to give but it’s really easy to get short-tempered. “Showing kids that their parents have interests outside of them is healthy. The world does not revolve around them and they need to learn that early in life,” says Froese. She adds that a parent who constantly puts all of their energy into other people doesn’t teach healthy boundaries to their children. “Children need to learn how to problem solve and be given time and space to grow into productive members of society,” says Froese. Parent or not, this is why it’s important for us to take the time to refill our energy tanks so that we model good self-care practices for our kids and the people around us.

With Hattie Burgher

Jean Chatzky

Jean Chatzky