'Me time and 'us time' is important for every parent

TIME OUT: Regardless of how much you love your children and the role of being a parent you still need a break from time to time. Picture: Shutterstock
TIME OUT: Regardless of how much you love your children and the role of being a parent you still need a break from time to time. Picture: Shutterstock

Regardless of how much you love your children and the role of being a parent, you still need a break from time to time. And that can be easier said than done.

I often joked that my children worked in shifts to make sure my husband and I were kept on our toes.

I was convinced there were three shifts a day - one for the first half of the day, one for the second half of the day and the overlapping shift through the middle of the day. That was the shift where there were two children demanding your attention at any given time.

Such demands mean that parents need some time to themselves to refresh and recuperate.

The opportunity for parents to spend time with each other is equally important. But finding that "me time" or "us time" is not always easy.

When you do find that time make sure it is about you and your partner, not a time spent organising things for the children or talking about those little gems that seem to dominate your every waking hour.

It wasn't that any of my children were excessively challenging, but children being children can demand a lot of a parent's time. These demands could present themselves in many ways.

For the record I have loved my role in all those demands - except maybe the washing and sorting the squabbles.

However, the idea of sitting down in a quiet, clean spot with a cuppa ... or a glass of wine and some adult conversation ... has at times seemed like a blissful, but unlikely, option.

I remember, one morning standing at the kitchen sink, cleaning up after breakfast, when I think I may have slipped into my own world.

I could hear the sounds of chatter and requests for attention in the background, but I have no idea what was being said. I was imagining that I was out on a road run.

It was a strange experience, because distance running had never been a favourite past time of mine, but I started running from that day.

I told my husband I was going for a run and off I went. I was by no means fast or fit, but it worked for me as a brilliant stress release. I returned about half an hour later on that first day exhausted, but happy, and capable of taking on whatever parenting expectations came my way.

Running became a regular, almost daily option for my 'me time'. Sport also became a 'me time' option for my husband and we happily supported each other as we embraced our respective choice for personal time out.

Finding the 'us time' took a little more organising, but we knew it was important and we were determined to make time for each other.

The obvious option for securing some children-free time is to organise a babysitter and go out together, or drop the children off at the grandparents.

We didn't have the luxury of family who lived nearby, meanwhile paying a babysitter and going out for dinner could prove costly. Needless to say the 'us time' was not always easy to organise.

It wasn't that it didn't happen, but weekly date nights, were not an option. We settled for the occasional date night, however, in those earlier years of parenting we inevitably talked about the children.

Of course that was before we had begun to lock in our 'me time'.

Fortunately once we started to re-engage in our individual interests of running and sport we had new discussion topics to cover.

While date night never became a regular activity on our calendar - although I think it is a great idea if you can make it work - we did re-learn to communicate. We also made the most of 'us time' even with the kids around.

We recognised that it was important for us to find time to stop and communicate with each.

We realised that if the children were happy and engaged we could actually enjoy uninterrupted conversations. This became easier as the children got older.

If they were happily ensconced in what they were doing there was an opportunity for us to actually talk to each other and we made the most of those times.

Today as empty-nesters, we still enjoy each others company and we seem to have more in common than ever. We now also love date night.

  • Mother-of-three grown children, ACM editor Mumma Jak shares her anecdotes of navigating the parenting world.