Once your child is born, it doesn't take long for you to realize that the concept of free time is now a thing of the past.
Unfortunately, you need that time to help keep yourself sane. After all, a dad who is present – but totally burnt out – isn't going to be very helpful.
Here are some tips to carve out the time that you need.
Make Sure Spouses Get Equal Time
First, make sure both you and your spouse have equal opportunities for alone time. Even if your wife stays home with the kids during the day, that doesn't necessarily mean she has any time to relax to herself.
It's important for both partners to have an equal chance to recharge their mental batteries. So if she wants to unwind with a relaxing bubble bath, play with the kids and don't disturb her. While it's not okay to say it, ensuring she has the time she needs means she can't guilt trip you – intended or not – when you want to take a break from fatherhood for a couple of hours.
If you're having trouble finding time for yourself, that's probably because you haven't really planned it. So if you want to go see a movie, or even go for a long walk one day, put it on the calendar and don't take it off.
The simple act of making an "event" makes it tougher to ignore. Plus, if you have plans for a specific time, you have something to look forward to when your kid pulls your hair for the umpteenth time this week.
There are more creative ways to find some alone time as well. For example, many gyms – and even some supermarkets – have on-site daycare facilities where you can leave your child for a bit. So what if you don't need to work out – Or only needed to pick up a gallon of milk? Your kids won't mind if you take an extra 10 minutes to relax with a cup of coffee down the street.
Really desperate? When was the last time you played hide and seek with your kids? I'll bet they're really good at hiding… aren't they?
Get Alone Time… Together
Once kids come into the equation, time together as a couple is also tough. So get relatives to come over – or hire a babysitter – and go out and enjoy an adult conversations.
If evenings are tough, plan a date "day". Both of you can take a vacation day, and once the kids are off to school, go back to bed. Once you're refreshed, go out for a nice brunch, and then relax until the kids come home again. It's a simple, low-stress way to take a break.
The common denominator here is that you need to take the time to take care of yourself. Otherwise, you're going to end up being a less effective parent in the end.
Do you have any other secrets to finding time to yourself? Share them here.