by Shannon Serpette for Dadspadblog.com

When you do it right, parenting can leave you with very little time for yourself. The challenge to carve out any free time gets harder still when you factor in your job and other responsibilities.

By the end of the day, you might realize that you haven’t take a single minute to do anything for yourself. While that may be unavoidable sometimes, you should make it a point to find ways for a little downtime every day. Sometimes it’s crucial to your mental and physical well-being.

Here are some things you should never feel guilty about taking the time to do, even if it occasionally means shortchanging some of your other priorities.

Exercise

You’re not doing anyone any favors by skipping out on your daily dose of exercise. Sure, your loved ones may get a few minutes longer with you at the end of the day, but you could be shorting them out of years they could have spent with you if you die prematurely because of a preventable medical condition.

Getting off the couch and into your workout gear isn’t selfish. It can help you deal with stress, maintain a healthy weight and clear your mind.

You’re also setting a great example for your children. If you feel bad about taking the time away from them when you only see them for a couple hours after you get off work each night before they have to head to bed, get them to exercise with you. That’s a double win because you’ll be doing something good for both of you.

Take 15 minutes to throw the frisbee around or shoot some baskets in the driveway or at a nearby park. Go for a walk together around the neighborhood and discuss their day. As long as you’re moving while you do it, it’s going to be good for the both of you.

Make squeezing in some exercise time a family affair. Challenge your family to see how much time you can fit in weekly and reward yourself when you hit your goals.

For harder workouts, don’t feel bad about leaving your family at home when you go out there to test your limits. Your kids will be watching your example and learning that healthy habits are important.

Date Night

Obviously when you’re pulled in so many different directions with your time, you want to spend as much of it as you can with your kids. But skipping your date night isn’t a good idea.

Adults need time to explore adult relationships. Keeping your romantic relationship on track will make you feel happier and if it leads to less fighting at home, your kids will be happier too.

Whether your date night is once a week or once a month, write it on your calendar and treat it as you would any other important appointment.

Pursuing Your Passion

We all have them – those activities that make us feel alive. Whether your passion is your garage band you play with on the weekends, trying to beat your best 5k running time or reading everything you get your hands on, you have to make time for it.

Will you be able to devote an hour or two to it every day? Probably not, but knowing your next session of doing what you love is right around the corner can keep you pepped up for days.

We all need to have hobbies because sometime in the very near future our children won’t need us as much as they do now. We’re going to be cast off in favor of new people they wrongly think are cooler than us. That doesn’t mean they love us any less – it means we’re doing our job as parents and they’re becoming more independent.

When that day comes and your teenage son or daughter no longer wants to snuggle on the couch and watch an all-day movie marathon with you, having your own hobbies and passions will take the sting out of that rejection.

Sleeping in Once in While

As parents, we’re often burning our candle at both ends. Skipping out on too much shut-eye can negatively impact every area of our lives. Our work performance can suffer. We can have a shorter fuse with our children than we normally do. And it can leave us feeling depressed, exhausted and lead to health problems.

So if you need to sleep in longer on the weekends to recharge your batteries or take the occasional nap when your child does, do it without the least bit of guilt. It’s good for you, which means that it’s also a good thing for your child.

——–

Shannon Serpette is a mother of two and an award-winning journalist and freelancer who lives in Illinois. When she’s not spending time with her children, she is often pursuing her favorite hobbies – running, metal detecting and kayaking. She can be reached at writerslifeforme@gmail.com.

Posted by Fathers Incorporated

Fathers Incorporated (FI) is a national, non-profit organization working to build stronger families and communities through the promotion of Responsible Fatherhood. Established in 2004, FI has a unique seat at the national table, working with leaders in the White House, Congress, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Family Law, and the Responsible Fatherhood Movement. FI works collaboratively with organizations around the country to identify and advocate for social and legislative changes that lead to healthy father involvement with children, regardless of the father’s marital or economic status, or geographic location. From employment and incarceration issues, to child support and domestic violence, FI addresses long-standing problems to achieve long-term results for children, their families, the communities, and nation in which they live.

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