Life gets busy for families. Between work, chores, bills, and of course, childcare, parents and guardians are often tied up in their long to-do lists to really take time for themselves. Here are ways to be more intentional with the time you have, and how to make that time yours.
There are two ways to go about this: find time-saving meal solutions that work for you, such as meal prepping once a week or healthy meal kits; or alternatively, if you enjoy cooking, using that time to work slowly, mindfully, and with care.
When you save time with meal prepping or kits, you’ll be able to use the extra time you have on your hands to do something else, like reading a book or going for a walk. On the flip side, when you take the time to slow down and cook a hearty meal you enjoy, it can be a meditative experience that helps clear your mind and keep your body healthy. The best part is that dinner is essential– this is time that you’re guaranteed to have no matter which route you take.
This is another essential that’s great for sneaking in a few minutes of peace and quiet. If your children are old enough to bathe themselves, dedicate that time to something you enjoy (no chores!). Even if it’s just reading a few pages of your book or listening to a few songs you love, it’ll be a dopamine hit that increases your mood. Challenge yourself to see how many fun activities you can squeeze into those few minutes!
If they are not old enough to bathe themselves, make a self-care ritual out of your bath time. Invest in your favorite shower gels and skin-care products that make you feel brand new every time you use them, create a relaxing playlist for bath time, even hang lavender or eucalyptus in your shower to create an aromatherapy experience. Most of all, take your time.
We know–the urge to work through lunch is real, but lunch is an hour of the day that is meant to be yours. Whether you spend that time making a coffee run, catching up on a podcast, meditating, or just enjoying your meal in silence, it is your lunch hour. This is us giving you permission to use it how you see fit.
Paid time off is often limited, so of course you’ll want to save it for family vacations, graduations, and birthdays with some left over in case of emergencies. However, if you feel yourself struggling to stay productive and positive, don’t wait until the weekend to recharge–you’ll likely use that time catching up on chores around the house. Take a day for yourself, preferably while the kids are in school, so you can have the house to yourself and an entire day that’s just yours.
If you find yourself going to sleep around the same time as your kids, consider going to bed an hour or two after them. Alternatively, if your bedtime isn’t super flexible, try waking up before your kids.
Maybe while your kids do their homework, you’re busy whipping up dinner or finishing up laundry. Talk with your kids about a designated homework time that doesn’t overlap with your own schedule so that you can have some downtime too.
You know the feeling all too well–you have to pick up your kids from school in an hour, so you’re not totally relaxed. After all, you’re keeping your eye on the time. Find ways to make the time leading up to pickup/drop-off more enjoyable so you aren’t “on” for an extra hour or so. Set an alarm for when you have to start moving so you aren’t constantly checking the clock. You could also coordinate a carpool with another family so you get a few days off each week.
If you’re dropping your kids off at school in the morning, if time allows, consider taking a longer way home or stopping for a coffee along the way so you can enjoy those moments of quiet before you leave for work. It’s the little things that add up!
Time to call up the babysitter! Your close personal relationships need quality time to thrive. Whether it’s Girls’ Night Out or Date Night, you’ll be thankful you took a break from your everyday life to do something fun and different.
Sometimes the stars just don’t align, and you don’t get that alone time you were hoping for. There’s nothing wrong with designating quiet reading time for your kids a few times a week so you can catch up on your current read. If you’ve been itching for a trip to your local art museum, or the movies, or anywhere that gauges your interest, bring your kids along! Who knows, you may just spark a new passion in them!