How to Get Time Alone as a Stay at Home Mom
Thirteen years ago, I never would have imagined that taking a shower would feel like a luxury. I took for granted the trips to the gym for a spin class, and the time relaxing on the couch reading a book. I couldn’t have dreamed that there would come a day when I would feel lost when I was alone.
Fast forward to present day, I have four children, a work from home nursing job, a blog, and I homeschool. In addition to that, I coordinate the education program for our church, and I teach Bible classes. I wake up early, stay up late, and I rarely sit down (except to write these posts, which I almost always do in five minute increments before one of my kids find me).
I am busy in the best ways possible, and I wouldn’t change it for the world, but I NEED time alone sometimes. I am introverted, and not having some time by myself to decompress makes me feel crazy.
Every mom needs some time to herself. Alone. Without kids present. Not being touched by anyone. Not being needed by anyone. Not cleaning the house. Not working. Just being alone and recharging, even if it is only for 15 minutes, is a sanity saver.
Realistically, not everyone can afford a babysitter to get time alone (babysitters make some serious cash around these parts), and I for one, don’t want to park my kiddos in front of the TV to get some quiet time, so here are my tips and tricks for getting alone time without breaking the bank or selling out to the video game gods.
Some of these ideas will guarantee you time completely to yourself, while others will give you a few moments of much needed peace. I would love to hear your ideas for mom mental health breaks!
Start a daily quiet time
This is the number one way that I get quiet time to myself each and every day. When my children are young, they nap during this time. When they stop napping, they still do quiet time.
Quiet time is GOOD for kids, so don’t feel guilty about it. They have toys, books, pencils, and paper. They can be alone with their thoughts while you are alone with yours.
Your kids will become absorbed in pretend play and become more creative because you are giving them this time. So let me repeat, do NOT feel guilty.
Quiet time is an institution at our house. I do everything within my power to protect this part of our day. My children have come to count on being alone during this time.
They don’t play together; they each retreat to their own activity. It helps them to recharge as much as it does me.
Schedule their tech time
We limit our children’s time in front of screens. This includes TV, video games, and tablets. One way that we keep our children from asking for devices throughout the day is to schedule a daily tech time.
Tech time is at the same time each day, and it lasts for a specified amount of time.
Kids love knowing what to expect from their day, and this is just one more way to give them some control. They know that if their school work and chores are done, they can play video games for the agreed upon time.
This works wonderfully! It keeps kids from nagging mom for screen time. It limits the time they spend on their devices.
But best of all, since tech time is the same time of day for all our kids, this is another time that mom has to herself. You won’t have to ask for the time alone. Your children will never let you forget this part of the day.
Get up early
I know this one isn’t very popular, but it works. Even though I have an almost two year old who doesn’t sleep through the night, I still try to get up before her in the morning. I wake up and have my coffee, Bible study, and prayer time ALONE.
I don’t always succeed (and that is okay because kids need to see mom study God’s word), but on the mornings I get some time by myself, I have a much better day.
Set up a childcare swap with a close friend
I say “close friend” because we all have that friend that you don’t have to clean the toilets for (if you don’t, you should get one). THAT is the friend you want to set up a childcare swap with because it removes all the extra stress of trying to be perfect.
It would work like this: Every other week (or however frequently you want) one of you gets a few hours off.
You drop your kids off at your friend’s house and she keeps them safe and happy for a few hours while you go do ANYTHING YOU WANT. Get a pedicure, see a movie, or go bra shopping since it has probably been a solid decade since you picked out a beautiful bra without having to feed Cheerios to someone while you shopped.
This is a no stress, no pay, kid swap. If your kids are good friends, it is even better because they will play and both moms get a break. It may feel awkward to be completely alone at first, but after a couple times, you will start coming up with fun stuff to do in your alone time.
Make a movie night for the kids and your husband
Rent a movie, order a pizza, and pop some popcorn. Have everyone bring their blankets to cuddle up on the couch with dad while you go take a bubble bath and paint your nails. This works well because it is a fun family activity that requires no work from your husband, which he will totally appreciate.
*I do realize this involves TV, but it also involves cuddling with dad, which is different than just parking them in front of cartoons alone.*
We started weekly movie night when I worked from home on Friday nights. I didn’t want my husband to come home after working all day to make dinner, take care of kids, and clean up.
It may also have been slightly selfish on my part because if they are watching a movie with dad, they aren’t destroying the house. 🙂 I no longer work Friday nights, but movie night is still a weekly event. Now I get to enjoy the movie with them.
Have your older children watch your younger ones
While I believe that everyone in the family needs to help out and work together, I try not to make my older children take care of my younger children all the time. I definitely have them help me some, but my little ones are MY responsibility, not theirs.
That being said, sometimes I will have them watch the younger children for a short period of time. I always try to plan ahead, so that I am not just dropping a toddler off in their lap while they are in the middle of something.
I might say, “This afternoon before lunch, I want you to play with your sister for 30 minutes” or “After breakfast, please read with your brother while I grab a shower and get ready.”
I have found that my older kids do not mind watching my younger children if I give them some notice and don’t rely on them excessively. They even volunteer sometimes.
Take the kids to restaurant with a play place
You don’t have to feed your kids nuggets and fries to take advantage of this one. Take them in the morning and buy them a fruit cup and milk for a snack. The play area will be less crowded before lunch, and you can read a book while they burn off some energy.
Take your kids to a fenced in playground and sit by the exit.
I hesitate to list this one because my kids love it when I play with them at the park, but there are a few parks in our area that have a great set up with tall wrought iron fencing and benches by the exit.
On days when am exhausted, but don’t want to be a drag to my kids, I can bring them to these parks early in the morning (before it is busy) and read a book while they play.
Obviously, safety is important, so you can’t completely zone out, but you should get some peaceful mom time in while your kiddos have fun and get much needed exercise.
Spend more quality time with your kids
It may seem odd for a post about getting more alone time to suggest spending more time with your kids, but hear me out.
If you make a point of being intentional about spending time with your children, you will get more time alone. A lot of times, we are either too disctracted (ditch the phone!) or we are moving targets. My twelve year old has told me that it is frustrating trying to talk to me when I am constantly in motion. He needs me to make time to sit down and just listen to him.
I once read a parenting book that suggested spending 15 minutes alone with each child every single day. During this time, there are no distractions allowed. You just focus 100% of your attention on that child. This might look like playing cars in the floor with your five year old or painting your tween’s nails while she tells you about her favorite TV show.
The point is that you are filling your child’s need for you’re attention. Doing this will result in your children clamoring for your attention less. Kids who get mom’s full attention daily, don’t have to follow her around the house throughout the day.
Hide in the bathtub
That escalated quickly didn’t it? Here’s the thing. There are times when even Supermom needs an immediate, unplanned break.
It may be that you can’t handle the noise anymore or the relentless mess making almost has you in tears. Perhaps you just want to add one paragraph to your latest blog post without someone asking you for a snack.
Whatever the reason, hiding in the bathtub is an awesome solution. You see, hiding in the bathroom with the door closed doesn’t work. There will be tiny hands under the door in no time. But leave the door open and hide in the bathtub with the shower curtain closed, and they will never notice you are there.
Think of it like hide and seek. The kids can enjoy looking for you while you take a breather. Bonus points if you can finish a cup of coffee before they locate you!
Speaking of…Play hide and seek with your kids
You make sure you have the very best hiding spot. Rinse and repeat. Your kids will think you are the absolute best for playing with them, and you can take a power nap behind the clothes in your closet. Everyone wins!
Set up activities that are mess free and keep your children happy and busy
I love to read, so I have found several ways to get be able to read while my kids are around. One great way to get some peaceful mom time is to use activities that are easy for you to set up, hold your child’s interest, but don’t make a big, stressful mess. You can have a mental rest close by while your child plays.
These are some of my favorites:
Playdoh with a rolling pin and cookie cutters– Take an old quilt outside or to the porch and let them play with it there. Kick back and relax close by while they have fun. When they are finished, scoop up the blanket and dump the tiny Playdoh pieces in the grass.
Bathtub with a drip of water and containers to measure and pour– You can sit in the bathroom floor while your toddler plays in the tub with toys, cups, spoons, etc. Just turn on a slow drip of water and put a towel down to keep them from slipping. Keep the drain open and let them play for as long as they want.
Beans or rice with measuring cups, spoons, and dump trucks- This is another outside activity unless you want to clean rice from every nook and cranny of your house for the next ten years. An empty kiddie pool or a blanket is perfect for this one. As long as I don’t use this activity too often, it will keep my little ones busy for a very long time. Just be careful with beans and small toddlers, as beans are a choking hazard.
A table, sheets, flashlights, and stuffed animals- Instant fort and happiness.
Water beads– There is not a kid alive who can resist the appeal of water beads. you can get a bag with a bazillion of them from amazon for just a few dollars. You could easily fill a kiddie pool with the bag I bought for my kids. I usually add a tablespoon or two of them to my largest pot and let them sit in water overnight. The next morning, I have an activity that will keep all my kids entertained for a long time. Even older kids enjoy water beads. Word of warning- they bounce like crazy. so outside is a great place to play with them. A deep bathtub is also good.
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Audio books- My kids love audio books. We have a subscription to Epic!, which is amazing. You can get a free trial here. We have been using Epic! for at least a year, and my daughter tells me how much she loves it almost daily. Hoopla is another great option. You can get ten FREE books every month by making an account with your library card number. Most libraries have audio books as well.
Offer your husband a break
I know it doesn’t seem like he needs alone time if he isn’t the one at home all day, but work does not count. Be sure to offer to do things like take the kids to the park and let him stay home, so he can have some rest too. When your husband sees you making an effort to give him a break, he is likely to reciprocate.
It is perfectly fine to tell your kids that you are going to take a thirty minute break because you need some time alone to recharge. Tell them to find something to do, and that you really appreciate them giving you a little bit of time alone. This models good communication and sets the example that there are times when we have to take care of ourselves so we can take care of others. Be sure to tell them thanks when you are done, and let them know the time alone was really helpful.
One last word of advice
Leave your phone off when you are taking a well deserved break. I know it is tempting to scroll social media or watch Netflix when you get a minute, but have you ever noticed how you never feel recharged afterwards?
If you stick around here long, you will notice that I think we all need a digital detox in order to be happier. Give it a try just once and see how you feel.
Not sure what to do when you are alone? Here are several great posts (I can say that because I didn’t write them) full of self care ideas for moms.
What are some ways that you get a break? What do you do when you get some alone time? I would love to hear from you!