How To Make The Most of Kid-Free Time
Whether it’s date night, a weekend visit at grandma’s, the end of maternity leave, or your child’s first venture into preschool, those first few experiences alone in the world without your kids can feel new, exciting, different, and even downright scary. Here’s how to make the most of kid-free moments as a new mom and walk away feeling refreshed and ready to jump back in with both feet when your kids come home.
Find Ways to Check-in
Especially if you’re new to being away from your kids, it’s important to find ways to stay connected. Having the ability to check in on your child and know where they are and what they’re doing will help you relax and stop worrying. Whether your caregiver keeps you updated throughout the workday by sending photos, your child’s preschool offers a livestream camera in the classroom, or your babysitter arranges a FaceTime with your little one, staying in touch is the #1 way to calm your fears and relieve your anxiety. (After all, it’s only natural to feel a little bit “off” when you’re adjusting to time without your kids.) With that being said, you don’t want to obsess over checking your phone every 5 seconds either. A healthy balance is important.
Do Something for Your Kids
Combat the “mom guilt” by doing something thoughtful for your little one while you are apart. If you’re back at work after maternity leave, take some time to fill out the baby book while pumping, or go shopping for a cute new outfit on your lunch break. On a kid-free vacation? Browse a souvenir shop before you head home and bring them back something special. Kids with their dad for the summer? Take some time to work on a special project for them to enjoy once they get home – like a bedroom makeover or backyard swing set. The possibilities are endless.
Do Something for You
We’ve all heard the cliché analogy about making sure your own oxygen mask is on first before tending to your family, but it’s true. In fact, the more guilt you feel about taking time for yourself, the more likely you are to need it! While it is admirable that you want to put your kids first and think of them ahead of yourself, it is also very likely that you will burn out if you keep going this way without the proper rest and support. As hard as it is to imagine right now, one day those kids who need you 24/7 will be grown, and you will be better equipped for it if you continue to nurture your own interests now. So whether you choose to take a class, take a walk, or take a nap, don’t neglect your own self-care.
Tackle the To-Do List
We all have a never-ending list of things we’d like to get done “someday”. Carrying that mental load around can cause some serious stress, especially if your home reflects that reality of half-finished projects. I like to take the time that my daughter is with her dad to work on the things I would feel guilty about completing when she is home with me – such as doctor’s appointments, decluttering projects, or career pursuits. In short, if you find yourself kid-free for an afternoon and would rather get things done than take a nap, there’s nothing wrong with that. Sometimes getting caught up on the laundry can feel just as good as vegging out for an hour watching TikTok videos. A trip to Target without a screaming toddler isn’t bad either.
Nurture Your Other Relationships
As moms, we need the other relationships in our life even more after giving birth, not less. However, the way we choose to spend our time doesn’t often reflect this truth. If you’re out on a date night or weekend getaway with your spouse, take the time to reconnect with them and leave the day-to-day worries of parenthood behind for a bit. And if your kids are at grandma’s, don’t forget how much fun it can be to meet a girlfriend for coffee, squeeze in a workout with your gym buddy, or even just carry on an uninterrupted phone conversation. The more you can invest in your friends and family, the more your kids benefit too.
When your best friend volunteers to have your oldest over for a sleepover, or your sister offers to watch your crew for a whole afternoon, is your first reaction to turn down help because you want others to think you “have it all together”? Mine too. But these offers for help can be invaluable not just for us as moms, but for our kids as well. It teaches them that its ok to put your own needs first every once in a while, and it helps them bond to other caregivers. If you can, try to set up a consistent schedule for when you get a break. Having a standing kid-free appointment on the calendar such as grandma’s house once a month, a playdate with dad at the park every Saturday morning, or Mother’s Day Out 3 days a week, can do amazing things for your sanity. Never feel bad about accepting help – or asking for it. After all, it takes a village. (And let’s be real, grandma would probably be thrilled to watch your baby for a week if you’d let her!)
Don’t let separation anxiety, mom guilt, or pressure to perform ruin your kid-free time! Whether you’ve been looking forward to going back to work for weeks or you cried on the first date night away from your little one, rest assured that it’s all perfectly normal. Your feelings will ebb and flow as you adjust to a new reality and learn to trust others to care for your little one. Follow the tips above and you’ll be a pro at maximizing your time and relationships in no time!