Today I would like to introduce you to another fabulous guest blogger, Stacy Huddle of Huddlenet.com. I met Stacy in a Facebook Group several months back and have really enjoyed her writing. She offers down to earth advice for parents, amazing recipes, as well as mental health tidbits and inspiration. Thank you Stacy for today's guest post on Mommy and Daddy Timeouts. This is something I personally forget to do on a regular basis.
When Meredith mentioned looking for guest posts, I thought it would be a fun way to interact with a blog that I enjoy. My next thought was, "What can I offer to Meredith's readers that she doesn't already bring to the table?" After putting on my thinking cap the answer seemed simple. Meredith's family is just starting, while mine is, well, old (6 children ages 15 through 29).
One of the things that I wish I had been able to tell myself when I was a young parent was this - Moms and Dads need timeout. Notice the word need? This isn't a want. This isn't an if I can fit it in. It's a MUST. It doesn't matter if you are a stay at home parent or a working parent. If we don't open the release valve on our stress, things go "kaboom" quickly.
My marriage nearly ended in year 4 because we didn't take time for us. Together and alone. He went to work, came home, ate dinner, watched TV and went to bed. Same thing everyday. Lather rinse repeat. I stayed home day after day watching our children, fixing dinner, doing chores and spending time on the computer.
We were a military family, so moving from place to place made it difficult to get out there and make friends, join new churches and organizations. It didn't help that I have agoraphobia (fear of doing things out of your comfort zone). The thing is though, all people have fears, obstacles and busy schedules that conflict with "me time". We can all make excuses but we must make time.
There is an excellent reason for finding that time: "Reduce stress, be happier!" Do you need any further reasons?
Let's start with some ways to spend your time alone. Whether you take 10 minutes or an entire afternoon, there are many ways to do it and relieve that pesky stress. Here are a few ways to enjoy yourself:
1. Sit on the porch and relax. Watch the clouds or read a book
2. Go in the backyard and throw a ball with your dog.
3. Take a walk. Visit a park. Walk the track at the local high school.
4. Get a massage or a manicure.
5. Play a round of golf or join a softball team.
6. Bible study and church groups.
7. Soak in the bathtub with a good book or a glass of wine.
8. Take a community class. Learn to paint, cook or sew.
9. Sunbathe on the patio, at the pool or at the beach.
It's also important to spend time together as a couple. Do you remember what it was like before children? There isn't any reason that you can't still have small slices of that. You simply have to make the time. Try a few of these or come up with your own:
1. Go dancing or take a dance class.
2. Go paint-balling - talk about a stress reducer!
3. Visit a local museum or historical site.
4. Plan a fancy dinner in your own dining room.
5. Picnics at sunset.
6. Enjoy a glass of wine on the back patio.
7. Visit a special place from when you first started dating.
8. Go to a carnival WITHOUT the kids.
9. Visit the gym together (seriously!).
10. Play a game.
Now that your armed with all kinds of ideas to relieve parental stress, you might be wondering what to do with the kids. You'd be surprised at all the options that are surrounding you. If you can afford childcare then you're set but for others, the budget is often tight. Here are some ideas to help you:
1. For those who are married or have a significant other, just ask. Let them know you're feeling overwhelmed and just need a few minutes every day. It's that easy.
2. Relatives and friends. Most grandparents enjoy watching their grand-kids. A good friend will most certainly want to help you out. Be careful not to over-ask any of these people though.
3. Church! While every church is different, some offer babysitting during bible study classes. You could probably even find some parents who are in the same situation that you are in.
4. Community services for low income families. There are many programs out there, especially in larger cities that you could check out. Depending on the state that you live in, a simple search on the internet can get you started. If you have a caseworker for DHHS, talk to him/her about your needs.
5. Military families have many resources available that they are often unaware of. Every unit has some form of spouse and family support. You can search online or have your military member make an inquiry from their commander.
6. Older children can babysit younger children. It's a time honored tradition. If you have a responsible child that you trust to care for younger siblings, give them a chance to surprise and shine. Start with a short period of time and give clear instructions.
I've provided you with a list of ideas on how to spend time with yourself or spouse but there are a million of other ideas. Take some time and make your own list of things that you would enjoy doing. In fact, make the list together after the kids have gone to bed and you will have just spent your first bit of time together.
You might have to think outside the box on how to find childcare but the effort will be worth it.
Good luck and may your stress be reduced!
Stacy Huddle is the mother of 3, step-mom of 3 and grandparent of 3. She retired as a project manager for a environmental laboratory. In her spare time she volunteers with her daughter's high school band. She has been developing websites for over 15 years, both for herself and others. Cooking, sewing, reading and history are just a few of her passions. Reading about history is a double passion! Visit Stacy at Huddlenet.com
Thanks again Stacy!