Have a quick scroll through Instagram while you’re waiting outside a swimming lesson and you’ll almost certainly spot an inspirational post about self-care somewhere in your feed.
‘You can’t pour from an empty cup!’ the post will declare in a whimsical font against a tranquil background. “Watch me!” you’ll reply as you tear off to your child’s next social engagement, posting oat cakes into their mouths as they change from soggy swimming cossie to party gear.
But the self-care insta posts do have a point. A few hours of ‘me time’ can be the difference between shouty school runs to dealing coolly with the latest uncomfy sock-related procrastinations at 8.29am, between succumbing to the overwhelm and starting over with a clear head. It’s better for parents, better for kids but the big question is, of course, how to find ‘me time’ when life is 24/7 work, kids and chores?
Here are a few ideas:
If you’re pining for me-time, the chances are, your parent friends are too. Taking it in turns to host a playdate on a regular night after school or at the weekend means you can wander the aisles of big Sainsburys without being pestered for every single sugary item and toy, or just lie on the sofa with a selection of mini pastries and a true crime podcast.
Gym’s a Tonic
Endorphins are super-helpful in dealing with the ups and downs of parenting, but long gym sessions are pretty much out of the window when kids are on the scene. Don’t feel guilty about popping small people in the gym’s creche on a Saturday morning while you blow away the cobwebs on the running machine for 20 minutes.
Babysitters aren’t only for when parents have sophisticated evenings planned (i.e., the PTA disco). You can book a sitter during the day too, so you can deal with life admin, shop or workout while a local sitter takes on the childcare duties. Of course, you can also book them in the evenings to watch the kids while you do the Cha-Cha Slide with deputy head at the PTA fundraiser.
If you used to love a good book but your reading list now consists of The Very Hungry Caterpillar on a loop, give audiobooks a shot. Unlike their paper and ebook counterparts, audiobooks can be consumed while seeing off mountains of laundry, tidying legions of scattered toys and while ferrying kids from A to B. Even better, they read you to sleep at the end of the day.
Not one for the night owls, or those with little people who think breakfast is served at 5am, but plenty of parents find that, once the sleep deprived years have passed, getting up before the kids wake can be blissful. Just half an hour for a coffee in peace, maybe a sun salutation or two, and who knows, maybe enough time to post an inspirational self-care post on Instagram…
Written for Bright Horizons by Lizzie Cat, Head of Content at bubble, the UK’s biggest on demand childcare app.