How to Make the Most of a Day Without Kids
If you are a parent of a child or children who live with you at home, I will make a crazy guess and say: you need a break. And no, taking a break isn’t one hour in disguise at the grocery store trying to limit the amount of things you touch (I mean, if you’re not really into that kind of thing – everyone is different).
However, there are so few real breaks these days that when we get them , we often panic. We want this time to be perfect for us – it may never happen again! Or we want to do things that we didn’t have time for last year, and we try to squeeze in too much, leaving us more exhausted than when we started (if that’s possible for people at the moment). But with a little planning and planning, you can take some time to yourself and enjoy it.
Usually the moment we realize that we really need a break is the moment when a break is not possible. This happens when a child has colic and nothing is helping, or when we are raising children alone and everyone melts before bed. This is when we wake up to the realization that we have to balance our worker from home and their training from home over and over again, Lord, that’s enough already. It would be great to take breaks before we completely hack (highly recommend!), But often it is the hacking that gives us the permission we feel we need to do in order to catch our breath.
Even if you cannot take a break now, you should start planning for it. Sometimes having something to look forward to is enough to piss you off; This is why I am planning a summer beach vacation in January or February. Pull out your calendar and sit down with your partner – or, if you’re a single parent, start looking at childcare options or making plans for when the kids are in kindergarten or school. If you can find an entire day for yourself, this is obviously ideal, but even if you plan for specific periods of time, this is a good start. (Be sure to also set aside time for your partner to take a break.)
Especially when the children are small, you can probably get some time only if everyone makes it clear in advance that this time you need to protect at all costs.
Think about what you need
My favorite self-care exercise is to go to my city’s main street with its myriad of quirky shops and browse through all of my favorites, ending with a snack and a glass of sangria in a Spanish restaurant in the middle of it all. (This is not even the case that I live in the area; I did something similar when I lived in Arizona, except that it involved buying turquoise jewelry and then grabbing a beer in a saloon.)
On the contrary, I have a friend for whom the perfect day is all about finding the peace and space needed to completely clear her to-do list. I want fresh air, the ability to wander at my own pace, a sunny table and a chilled drink; she wants productivity. It doesn’t matter what kind of thing you have; it is just important to determine what you, in particular, need. As said terrible mom Tess Brigham therapist and Life-Coach:
“While it might seem like taking a bath or reading a good book is a ‘good way to take care of yourself,’ if that’s not what you want or need, don’t do it! We all have different ideas about the perfect vacation, the perfect partner, the perfect dinner, which means you have to define what is “taking care of yourself,” says Brigham.
Time is so precious to yourself, especially now, so time should be spent on what you want to do, and not on what you think you should be doing. “If you end up doing this instead of lying in bed all day reading and watching Netflix because it seems ‘too indulgent’ or lazy, you will just feel resentful and even more tired,” warns Brigham.
If possible, go outside
Recognizing that taking care of ourselves looks different for everyone, if it is possible at all, then we could probably all use it right now. This could mean taking your favorite hiking trail, or sitting out on your best friend’s terrace while sipping on a cocktail in a relaxed way.
But I suggest that we define “outside” here in general terms – it could also mean that you drove through the car and calmly shot a burrito (with the car windows down) like that contented woman in the photo at the top of this article. Or, in the case of my friend, perhaps taking a slower and more scenic route between whatever she likes to do. Fresh air, combined with naturally recharging you, will give you maximum mental health benefits.