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"Me Time" for Single Parents

10 Ways to Create Time for Youself While Raising Your Kids

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Single parenting is exhausting because your children depend on you for everything. You're responsible for all aspects of your family's well-being, from managing the finances to keeping track of homework assignments, meals, and extra-curricular activities. The only way you can sustain the energy needed to do this job well is to create some pockets of "me time" where you can get in touch with who you are as an individual and replenish your energy levels. Here are ten tips for carving out that precious "me time" on a regular basis:

1. Get Up Earlier

You've probably heard this suggestion before. This time, I want you to do something different: Try it! Until you've applied this strategy for at least seven days in a row, you're not going to realize how powerful it is. Start by setting your alarm for fifteen minutes before you really need to get up. Then use that time to listen to the quiet, write in a journal, or engage in another activity that restores your soul. Do not, however, use this time to get a head start on chores. Use this time for you.

2. Make Your Bedtime Routine Consistent

It's hard to plan for some alone time in the evening when your kids go to bed at a different time every night. Instead, implement a consistent bedtime routine so that your kids can anticipate rest and learn to fall asleep on their own. If you have early risers, you may also want to put an alarm clock in each bedroom and teach your kids to play quietly until at least 7:00 a.m.

3. Give Yourself at Least One Night Off Per Week

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Part of what you need in your life is some time in your head - time to think , to plan, to dream. This is one of the most rejuvenating gifts you can give yourself! So at least once a week, give yourself a night off. After the kids have gone to bed, resist the urge to do the things you would normally do, like chores or watching TV. Instead, spend some time pursuing a hobby you love, reading a book, or reconnecting with a friend. Everything else can wait.

4. Use Your Shower Time

Those few minutes you spend in the shower each day are probably the most regular "alone time" you get. Plan to use it well! Purchase some energizing aroma therapy products that you love, and make the most of the few minutes you have to yourself. While you're there, take some deep breaths and let the water wash away some of that tension you're carrying.

5. Take a Walk on Your Lunch Hour

Let's be honest. You don't need to hear another story about your co-workers's cat; so at least once a week, break away from the employee break room and go for a short walk on your lunch hour. This doesn't mean skipping lunch altogether, of course. You need those calories to sustain you through the afternoon. Eating a light meal and going out for a brisk walk is a great way to clear your head and exercise your body.

6. Introduce Quiet Time

If your children are too old for naps, but still young enough to require constant attention, introduce "Quiet Time." This is when your kids read or play quietly in their rooms for one hour in the afternoon. You can then use that time to relax, read a magazine, or do something special for yourself. If you need to, create a behavior chart where your kids can keep track of their quiet time hours. Celebrate their cooperation with a trip to the library, a local park, or the children's museum after several argument-free siesta periods.

7. Make a Date With Yourself

Why don't you have time for yourself? Go take a look at your calendar. Everything you do gets listed there, from dentist appointments to karate tournaments. Most likely, the privilege of regular, sustainable "Me Time" won't become a reality until you actually schedule it on your calendar. So grab a pen right now and mark at least one "Me Time" date for this month, even if it means hiring a babysitter.

8. Maximize Your Commute

Most of us spend a considerable amount of time in our cars. Instead of turning on the radio or making another phone call, turn everything off and enjoy a brief period of quiet. This simple habit can help you respond effectively to the challenges you face as a single parent, rather than reacting from your emotions or exhaustion.

9. Use "The Box" Technique

"The Box" is a collection of items that your children love to play with, such as Play-doh, special markers, and activity books. You can even save happy meal prizes to include in the "The Box." Then, when you need a few minutes of quiet, invite your children to play with "The Box" for fifteen minutes. As you begin to employ this strategy regularly, rotate the items inside so your kids don't become bored with what they find. It's amazing how much fun they can have with simple toys that you make available for limited amounts of time.

10. Do Not Use Your Kids' TV Time to Do Chores

When you use your kids's TV time to do chores, two things begin to happen: 1) Your kids don't participate in the chores, and 2) They end up watching a lot more TV. Instead, do the chores together as a family. This way, you can use your children's TV time to sit and relax, collect your thoughts, listen to some music, or write in a journal.
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