Teaching, working, housework, church, community activities… Just how in the world is a single parent supposed to manage any “me” time or to practice the important self-care?
It’s impossible, many say. I tell the parents I work with that it is not an elective to have me-time, but an essential part of life. It boils down to boundaries. (Boundaries, by Cloud and Townsend, is an excellent book for those who have trouble setting boundaries.)
A well-known example of the concept of self-care is the spiel the stewardess gives before a plane takes off regarding oxygen application in an emergency. If you do not take care of yourself, you cannot take care of others. If your children do not see you setting healthy boundaries as they are growing up, they will not learn how to set healthy boundaries themselves.
I realize that time and money may limit how a single homeschooling parent can practice me-time. One thing I want to convey in this post is the importance of self-care, and to hopefully remove any guilt that may creep up if you take time to implement this practice.
Some parents will wake early or stay up late to find private time. It’s important to schedule me-time that does not necessarily end up being the time you simply do devotions. Private devotional time is important, but it is also important to have time where you do something that is fun (not that devotionals cannot be fun). Some things I have done for self-care time: bubble-bath time, joining Toastmasters, scheduling a weekend at a state park for just me, movie time with girlfriends, library time without the kids, and window shopping sans children.
Ideally, self-care would happen daily. This is not always possible, especially if the children are young. Once a week would be minimum. This can be scheduled when the other parent has the children, or maybe during a parent-swap time. If the children are older and involved in community activities, then me-time can occur during this time.
It may take some creative thinking and scheduling, but it is possible to schedule regular self-care time. Learning to set boundaries with yourself, the kids, the church, and other family members/friends is very important. There is only so much of yourself to spread around. It is important to manage your resources. Remember how often Jesus would have the disciples withdraw into a quiet area. When we do not set healthy boundaries, we end up suffering burn-out, yelling at our children, and even developing chronic health issues.
Please, toss the guilt and “can’t do it” feelings, and begin today by scheduling some self-care time. It will improve your own well-being and that of your children.