How to make ‘me’ time when there’s only you … and the kids

Finding ‘me’ time when you have small children is no mean feat.

It can be so easy to get caught up with their needs that it’s easy to forget about you and your needs.

‘Me’ time has been pretty rare around here lately. To be honest, looking after me has slipped so far down my ‘to do’ list that even the simple luxury of brushing my hair gets pushed to the wayside some days.

Once upon a time, I took pride in my appearance. I wore funky clothes. Clothes that were ironed and vomit-free. I wouldn’t leave the house without ensuring my hair was perfect, and my makeup, my makeup was a work of art.

Oh how times have changed. The other day, I went out without brushing my hair or teeth. As far as putting makeup on goes, it didn’t even cross my mind. And that, my friends, is not the worst of it. When I was putting Smiley into the car she baby-vomited on me. Instead of changing my clothes, I simply rubbed it into the material and kept on moving. I’m sure I smelled a treat!

This was a particularly bad day, but even still there are days when I feel like I don’t have any time for me at all. I give to everyone, but I don’t give to me. This can be emotionally draining and is so not healthy. I am aware of this though and am taking steps to change.

If you read my post … And what I should have said you will know that Dave was heading away for work and I wasn’t too keen on being left alone with the kids. I was determined though to totally rock at the solo parent gig and fit in some ‘me’ time as well.

And you know what? I did totally rock while Dave was away. The girls and I had an amazing time together. Their behaviour was faultless despite being sick and I even managed to slot in some ‘me’ time too.

While I’m no expert, (Dave was only away for a short time) these are my tips for survival. They all involve planning ahead and doing anything I could do before Dave left to make the time when he was away easier. This careful planning allowed me to have much needed down time from the kids.

  1. Drugs. No, not for you, what do you think this is?! While Dave was away both kids were sick. I made sure I was stocked up on Panadol, knew where the thermometers were and had the 13 Health number on hand.
  2. Petrol. I ensured I had a full tank just in case we needed to make an emergency trip to the doctor.
  3. Pre-prepare meals. I don’t know what happens at your house, but at around 4pm here the kids go total cray. They’re getting tired, cranky and whingey. I found having meals that I could quickly reheat for them and me made life so much easier. I could give them the attention they needed at this time rather than letting my blood pressure rise trying to cook while there is whinging and madness surrounding me. By the time I got the kids to bed most nights it was 7.30pm and who wants to be cooking then? Smiley was very unsettled due to her cold, so having pre-prepared meals meant I could focus more on her and then have more time for me when she finally did sleep.
  4. Clean the house. I know this is not always possible for time poor mums, but I feel so much more relaxed when the house is clean, especially just before I know it’s going to get a hell of a lot messier.
  5. Pre-plan different activities. I bought a couple of really cool creative kits for Curly-locks.
    Seed planting

    Seed planting

    The first was a seed planting kit which involved decorating a pot and planting seeds. Watering the plant has become a daily ritual. She loves watching it grow.

    Canvas and collage kit

    Getting her paint on

    The second kit was a canvas and collage kit, which involved lots of paint and glitter. What little girl doesn’t love glitter?

    Wear them out with some fresh air

    Wear them out with some fresh air

    I also found it helped to get out of the house. Cabin fever is just not cool.

  6. Don’t show your fear. Never let onto your kids that you are scared, worried or not in control of the situation. They can smell the fear on you. I did my best to be as happy and calm as I could and it worked! Smiling is contagious after all!
  7. Ask for help. Involve family members. It’s good for you and it’s good for the kids. I was very lucky to have my brother-in-law visit from New Zealand while Dave was away. It was exciting for Curly-locks and it took her mind off missing Daddy. It was also great for me to have some adult conversation and help with swimming lessons and lunch. My brother and sister-in-law also paid me a visit while Dave was away and spoilt me with pizza, brownies and a DVD. These small spurts of adult time really made life easier.

These few things helped my time without Dave run as smoothly as it could and allowed me to feel calm and in control. In hindsight, I would have shaved my legs and washed my hair before Dave left to avoid interruption from a desperate toddler shouting ‘Poo, mummy! Pooooo!’ while I’m half way through my shower, but that’s another story

I put my hands up to any parent who does this regularly and for weeks on end. I can’t begin to imagine how FIFO families cope.

Does your other half go away often? How do you make time for you? If you’re the one working away, how do you cope?

22 comments on How to make ‘me’ time when there’s only you … and the kids

  1. Cara
    May 29, 2013 at 7:17 am (5 years ago)

    Good on you Renee, you really nailed the temporary solo parenting thing. I hate it when JB goes away too. Even the dog misses him – he sits watching the door waiting for him to come home.

    Your careful planning really makes the difference huh. Having planned activities is great, and just getting out of the house is important – makes the day go quickly and you don’t notice the undone housework as much. πŸ˜‰

    Reply
  2. mummywifeme
    mummywifeme
    May 29, 2013 at 11:53 am (5 years ago)

    Very true, Cara πŸ™‚ It can be so isolating and lonely at home with just you and the kids and the days can drag. We always make a point of getting out to the park or even the shops. I swear we go to Coles every second day!
    Thanks for reading!

    Reply
  3. Lydia C. Lee
    May 30, 2013 at 9:51 pm (5 years ago)

    I’m good at the me time – usually ducking out to a movie, but sometimes just a bath and a book when everyone is in bed…

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      May 30, 2013 at 11:18 pm (5 years ago)

      Good on you, Lydia! How old are your kids? I do need to remember that ‘me’ time can be simple too. Will have to slot in a nice bath sometime or a good book.

      Reply
  4. Eleise
    May 30, 2013 at 10:53 pm (5 years ago)

    I actually find it harder being part of a blended family than when I was a single mum, because I did want I wanted and worked for the kids. Hubby doesn’t go away with work but I do now and I love that he has to run the house for three days. Glad that you got through it and thrived πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      May 30, 2013 at 11:21 pm (5 years ago)

      Wow Eleise. It’s interesting hearing from a different perspective. I would love seeing my hubby cope with the kids for three days. I’m sure he would do a stellar job though πŸ™‚ How does your hubby like it?

      Reply
  5. Mystery Case
    May 30, 2013 at 11:04 pm (5 years ago)

    My hubby is not FIFO but goes away to sea and uncontactable for short periods of up to a month every now and then with work. I’m lucky that my girls are older but gosh it’s still hard. Last time, I was actually the sick one and somehow we still managed. Great post!

    Reply
  6. mummywifeme
    mummywifeme
    May 30, 2013 at 11:24 pm (5 years ago)

    Thank you, Mystery Case πŸ™‚ It’s so hard when you’re sick and still have to look after the kids. I’m glad you survived. I can not imagine not being able to contact my husband while he’s away – and for a month, wow! You’re doing an awesome job.

    Reply
  7. Lisa Wood
    May 31, 2013 at 4:37 am (5 years ago)

    Hubby {who also is named Dave!!} used to FIFO work many years back, when we only had two little ones and I was pregnant with my third when I said no more.
    Now I could easily cope with him working away if he had to because my boys are much older.
    But my hat goes off to Single parents, they must be very strong to keep going.

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      May 31, 2013 at 4:41 am (5 years ago)

      That’s for sure, Lisa. I know a couple of single mums and they are amazing! Thanks so much for dropping by. I’ll be sure to check out your site πŸ™‚

      Reply
  8. Becc
    May 31, 2013 at 5:52 am (5 years ago)

    Well done! I have surprised myself lately on how I’ve coped by myself recently. I just need to get better at craft. You did a great job and definitely hats off to any single parents out there πŸ™‚
    Becc @ Take Charge Now

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      May 31, 2013 at 9:37 am (5 years ago)

      Thanks Becc. And thanks for dropping by!

      Reply
  9. Sam Stone
    May 31, 2013 at 7:20 am (5 years ago)

    Thankfully my Hubby doesn’t go away. But I totally agree with you in the planning thing! I plan and organise everything – things still fall apart but at least I feel more organised πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      May 31, 2013 at 9:38 am (5 years ago)

      I hear you, Sam. Love a good plan and list! Makes you feel so much more in control πŸ™‚

      Reply
  10. Desire Empire
    May 31, 2013 at 7:58 am (5 years ago)

    Isn’t it typical that the kids get sick when hubster is away. Makes it difficult to get out for supplies.

    Ugh
    Have a great weekend
    Carolyn

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      May 31, 2013 at 9:39 am (5 years ago)

      Yeah it’s always the way! Thanks Carolyn. Have a great weekend too in that beautiful part of the world you live in.

      Reply
  11. Zanni Louise
    May 31, 2013 at 9:10 am (5 years ago)

    Great tips! I needed some of these today…I can’t imagine how FIFO wives go either. I barely last a day. x

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      May 31, 2013 at 9:39 am (5 years ago)

      Thanks Zanni! And thanks for popping in to say hello πŸ™‚

      Reply
  12. Shari
    May 31, 2013 at 9:49 am (5 years ago)

    These are such great, helpful tips! While we aren’t a FIFO household, our man’s a farmer who works 7 days a week, every week of the year (but he does take half a day off at Christmas!!!). He’s never home before dark and some days are very hard yakka with a 3 year old but thankfully my parents are close and very helpful. Have a great weekend x

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      May 31, 2013 at 10:17 am (5 years ago)

      Wow Shari! That is hard yakka for hubby and you! I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a farmer. It is hard when your hubby doesn’t get home for the whole bed/bath thing. We have the same prob here, but fortunately it’s only five days a week. Have a great weekend too.

      Reply
  13. Emily @ Have a laugh on me
    May 31, 2013 at 11:04 am (5 years ago)

    A fab list – I also used to dress nicely and have time out – but 3 kids has put an end to this – I must become better at pre-planning meals! Have a great weekend!

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      June 1, 2013 at 10:07 am (5 years ago)

      Lol. Thanks Emily. You too!

      Reply

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