Five Ways to Get More Time to Yourself as a Single Parent

Multi-racial boy at the playground

When you’re on duty as a single parent there isn’t a single hour of the day that is really yours unless you make it so. Claiming time as your own can be tricky because there are only so many hours in day, after all. And many single parents want to use as much home time as possible to enjoy their children’s company. This is wonderful, of course, but never having time to yourself or time to relax before the next big parenting task can be draining and make your time less enjoyable.

If you’re ready to reclaim at least one hour in the day, it might be easier than you think. If the thought of not being there for your children every second of the day makes you feel faint with worry and dread, you’re the one in the most need. When it comes to spending time with children, study after study have shown that quality is much more important than the quantity of time together. If you’re snappy and tired with your children, they might not be enjoying your company as much as you like anyway. Give yourself a break, everyone will benefit.

1. Move Bedtime Earlier

The easiest hours to claim are the ones after your children are asleep, but before you are. Many parents have to work late, so they keep their children up later to be sure they have plenty of time together. It’s a fine line to walk, however, as young children need bedtimes close to seven or eight in the evening and older children should really be in bed by nine to get the optimum amount of sleep.

Better rested children means they will be more enjoyable during the day and actually fall asleep more easily when naps and bedtime roll around. Having your children in bed earlier will also give you time in the evenings to see to household items and have time to yourself.

If you’re concerned about not spending enough time with your children during the week, see if working different hours is a possibility such as going in an hour earlier and coming home at four instead of five in the evening. If not, you can take advantage of the weekends when you should dedicate your time to the family. Everyone will enjoy it that much more because you’re better rested.

2. Sign Up for Evening Programs

Rather than just coming home to mayhem every evening, sign your children up for a sports or other athletic program in the evening a few nights a week. Now, instead of running amok at home, you can sit in the bleachers and watch your children practice karate moves with a certified instructor while you make grocery lists and possibly return phone calls.

Being able to sit still and process your thoughts will give you a kind of break – just having the opportunity to make a few lists and get ready for the next few days will at least let that part of your brain relax. While you are relaxing in the stands, your children will also be getting valuable training and exercise that will help them stay healthy and fit as well ads giving them a creative and athletic outlet for energy that most children don’t have other ways to use.

3. Give in to Friends and Family

You have friends and family who have probably offered to come and baby-sit while you take care of things or go out for the evening, but it’s very likely you pooh-poohed their offer as you prefer to be with your child. If this is the case, it might be time to take your mother up on her offer. Rather than feeling guilty for letting someone else into your little exclusive family, be enthusiastic – the more relationships your child has with loving adults, the more comforted and stable her life will be.

Invite your aunt or friend over to play with your children while you take care of household items behind the scenes, or leave the house to run to the store unassisted for once. The sheer luxury of space and non-responsibility will be breathtaking, and you’ll be that much fonder of your children when you return.

4. Arrange a Sitter

It can be expensive, but a very good babysitter you can trust with your precious brood is truly priceless. Find a good babysitter in your area and then use her services when you need a bit of a break. Pay her for a few hours Saturday morning to run to the store, or have her stay in Friday night while you have a few drinks with friends.

Slightly older children actually enjoy having a babysitter because the youthful energy and fun new games will easily fill the time that you’re gone. Splurge on her services every now and again to give yourself a bit of fun and freedom.

5. Play Hooky

It might feel totally irresponsible, but one Tuesday morning call in sick to work. But wait to make the call until after you’ve dropped your children off at childcare. Use your day as you need it most – clean out closets, stock up at the grocery store, finish your taxes, or just take a long walk to rejuvenate. Then, when you’re feeling fit again, head over to pick up your children early. Even leaving care an hour early will feel like a huge treat. You can make that treat even better, but taking your little ones out for a special treat such as ice cream or fast food that evening.

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