By Alison Cupp-Relyea
Summer. It was supposed to be a season to relax and enjoy more free time, right? This is often not the case for parents of young children, and many of us enter September needing a break for ourselves after two months of constantly changing schedules, travel plans, family visits and longer days. Unfortunately, with back-to-school responsibilities, it is even harder to get time alone! This fall, be sure to put time for yourself back on the calendar. If this sounds like a foreign concept and utterly indulgent, chances are you are one of those new parents who really needs some alone time.
We interviewed a few parents to get their advice about creating alone time and found these common themes:
- Start small. Rather than book a weekend trip without kids that could create its own stress and anxiety, find something you can do a few times a week that will offer small breaks. Reserve small windows of time to go for a walk, read a book, or go see a movie by yourself.
- Find your own childhood. When we have children, we transition from having a lot of time to explore our own interests to focusing on our children first. By thinking back to the hobbies you loved in your childhood or early adulthood, you may find a passion that offers an escape and could become a shared love between you and your child. Parents I know have taken art classes, guitar lessons or joined an intramural sports team. For me, I started writing again. These hobbies offer fulfillment, a break from the new responsibilities and a sense of identity.
- Accept help. When someone offers to help with your child or other responsibilities, say yes! If you feel you are in need of a break, reach out and find someone to help, either your spouse, relative, friend or a babysitter. You will parent better if you give yourself some time alone to recharge.
September marks a new year for parents, and like on January 1st, it is a perfect opportunity to set goals and make changes. This fall, make it a priority to find time for yourself. You will be thankful for the balance it creates in your ever-changing life.