Never make time for dates with your partner and never have enough time to work out? Why not do them together with a sweaty date night on the track or in the gym?
About a year ago, M and I decided we wanted to make more time for us. With two young kids, we rarely went out on our own and spent time just the two of us. I know there are at least a few parents out there who can relate.
After a few years of very little adult social engagement, we bit the bullet and hired a babysitter to come over once a week on a set night. Every Thursday, one of the teachers from the boys’ school comes over for 2 – 3 hours to play with the boys, feed them dinner and put them to bed. It’s basically heaven.
Most nights, we don’t plan anything all that incredible. We go for a run on the track at our local middle school or attend a yoga class. Sometimes M has to work late, so I go to barre class and meet up with him after class. At times, we’ve even used the night to test drive new cars, shop at home improvements stores, or stock up on food and alcohol for a big upcoming party we were hosting.
Despite being pretty mundane activities on paper (that some might find hard to justify doing while paying someone else to watch your kids), we really like being able to just hang out and not have the stress of dragging along two young kids while accomplishing our tasks. Additionally, paying for someone to watch our kids while we go out for a fancy dinner or expensive activity only makes the night more expensive, which doesn’t feel worthwhile when those expensive activities aren’t what we really want to be doing.
I realize this is a great privilege we have to be able to afford this, so I’m not suggesting this is easy or for everyone. However, you could trade childcare with another family or taking turns for personal time with a spouse if a babysitter is out of your budget or not your preference. Maybe one week you take your neighbors kids while your neighbors enjoy a night out and the next week they take your kids while you head out for the evening. Especially on the weekends, M and I often fit in exercise or another personal activity by taking turns while the other person watches both kids.
For us, getting breaks (and work doesn’t count) away from our kids for personal time makes a significant difference in the attitude we bring to the table the rest of the day or week. I really wish we could debunk the social stigma that we should feel guilty for not always wanting to hang out with our kids. The truth is that most of us are better parents when we have time away. We need a refresh. We need to hit the reset button.
Do you get time away from your kids? If so, where do you fit it into your schedule and what do you do during your free time?