At the end of each day my husband and I like to sit and watch one of shows together – everything from “American Horror Story” to just about every Alaska themed reality show there is on air. It’s “our time” to just be together without our kids. We get about an hour and a half of this time after our boys go to sleep before we both pass out from exhaustion.
During my day as a stay at home mom, I get roughly an hour or two to myself if my kids decide to nap at the same time in the afternoon. I typically use this time to catch up on writing, housework or occasionally I’ll sit and watch some TV. So, on an average day, I get around two and a half hours of “personal time” each day – some days I get more and some days I get less.
That’s not much. So, it’s no surprise when I was watching the TODAY show this morning I was not shocked to hear the anchors talking about a study that says the average parent gets 48 minutes of time to themselves each day.
That’s less than an hour! There isn’t much you can accomplish in that amount of time. Perhaps you could: watch one show (without commercials), get a workout in (meh), make a cake, read a couple of chapters in a book (not The Illiad), take a shower (and shave your legs!), take a power nap, call or text a friend (if her kids are napping too), catch up on email, or any number of chores around the house.
I’d opt for the first one; to completely zone out in front of some kind of mindless TV for an entire 48 minutes. After all, housework can wait! Free time is like gold to us parents. The two words put together make my heart skip a beat just a little bit! Since having my first child nearly five years ago, I’ve haven’t actually experienced the phenomenon as much as I would have liked. I probably do get more time to myself than some, with the help of our moms and my husband and I are really good about giving each other breaks away from the house when we can. But still, anyone that is a parent gets this.
There are constantly plates spinning –doctor’s appointments, play dates, preschool pickup/drop off, sporting events, club meetings, grocery trips, you name it. There are only so many hours in a day!
The study was performed in Britian but the findings can be applied to most parents around the world. There is no doubt in my mind that the vast majority of every parent’s day is spent focused on their children and work or both at the same time. I know for myself that the second my eyes open each morning, my thoughts are immediately on where my kids are, need to be, or what they are doing that day. Any household or personal stuff of my own always comes second. It may not be the right way to do it, but it is how I’ve always been and my kids and my husband will always come first no matter what.
The study also composed a list of the top 20 things that parents are more likely to do in the evenings, everything from walking the family dog to trying to get their children to finish their supper. Parents are so busy that the traditional downtime we used to get in the evenings is very limited. That time is used to catchup on household chores or to get ahead on work or prepare for the next day. Those lunches aren’t going to make themselves after all!
Our personal wellbeing and mental health often comes last. We put off alone time or time with our spouses to make sure that our children are happy and fulfilled. This is so important! Yet, so is our own satisfaction in life and we need to take better care of ourselves so that we can take better care of our children.
48 minutes is just not enough time.
Wherever possible parents around the world should make more time to sit in the serenity of a quiet house, take a quick walk by themselves, or even spend some time with their spouse alone. I know this isn’t always possible, but whenever it is we all need to learn to say yes and take the opportunity.