When you’re a parent, you never stop being a parent. From infancy to childhood, children need your constant attention and care. When they become teens, your presence and guidance are still essential to their upbringing. And when they finally move out and have lives of their own, they still need their mom and dad to guide them through life and give them comfort.
In other words, there are no days off when you’re a parent—but this statement is not as literal as it should be. While you play a big role in your children’s lives, you still need some time alone to recharge and take care of yourself.
Now, wanting time away from your kids can spark feelings of guilt for most parents, but not wanting to be around your children all the time doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent—nor does it mean you don’t love them as much as you should. Everyone needs some time on their own, a time to breathe, recharge and reflect without a little person asking you what’s for dinner or getting you to play with them.
To further understand why you need time away from the kids, let’s talk about the benefits of getting alone time regularly:
1. You get to think clearly
Raising young kids can leave little room to sit down and think—and not just about what to cook for dinner—but about things that require more concentration and self-reflection than usual. Sure, you may get enough headspace to think while the kids are napping, but when you’re already exhausted from taking care of them, do you have enough mental energy?
Everyone needs some quiet time to think every once in a while. Perhaps you’re making a major decision in your career soon, or maybe you need to decide what daycare to send your kids to. These important thoughts and decisions need deeper rumination, and sometimes, the only way you can get to do that is by being alone.
2. Your mind and body rest
Being a parent is often exhausting—both physically and mentally, especially when you have multiple kids. And even if you get used to chugging caffeine and constantly running on fumes, there will come a time when the exhaustion becomes too much—bone-deep, even—that it starts to affect everything else in your life.
Exhaustion is one of the main reasons why every parent needs some time away from the kids. Drop them off at their grandparents’, then spend the whole day sleeping and doing nothing. Don’t feel guilty about it either—because when you are well-rested, you are also likely to be a more patient and engaging parent.
3. You have time to do what you love
A lot of people feel that they lose an important part of themselves when they become parents. After all, kids can take up all of your time, leaving you little chance to engage in your hobbies, spend time with friends, and do other things that make you the happiest.
So, when you take some time away from parenting, you finally have the chance to do what you love without the constant burden of responsibility—and this helps relieve your stress, keep yourself grounded, and avoid feeling lost amidst reality.
How to find time away from the kids
Spending time away from your kids is essential to your mental and physical well-being, which, in turn, will benefit your children in the long run. But how do you find time for yourself without feeling guilty?
Here are some ideas:
1. Set up quiet time
Afternoon naps are a saving grace for many parents. But eventually, your kids will outgrow the need for mid-day sleepy time. When they get to this age, establish a quiet time when everyone keeps to themselves for thirty minutes to an hour. Your kids will learn independence, and you get to enjoy downtime without the constant stimulus.
2. Set aside a budget
Allot a budget in your expenses for additional childcare, depending on how frequently you want to take a day off and how much you’re willing to spend. You can also scratch off some expenses to squeeze in a weekly date or a weekend off to yourself, such as unnecessary luxuries that aren’t as important as taking a break.
No parent should feel guilty about taking some time away from the kids every once in a while. After all, we are not all built to handle constant stimulus day in and day out. With that in mind, find ways how you can spend time alone—be it in an entire weekend or the middle of the day.