Not having a break from your kids is bad for your health!
As a busy parent it will probably be no surprise to you that a recent survey conducted by Findababysitter.com and published today, revealed a public health concern for parents in London after discovering that 27% of parents in London are taking less than half of the ‘healthy amount’ of ‘time out’ from their children each week.
The survey of London parents found that 27 percent of parents admitted to having less than one hour per week time out, away from their children. We are big advocates of ‘Me-time’ here at MTAM and have blogged extensively on the fact that time out for parents means a happy, healthy you and therefore a happy, healthy child so it’s great to see some research backing up our thoughts.
The study also revealed that a huge 36 percent of parents in London do not have informal childcare to rely upon such as friends, family and neighbours, meaning any time out that they take comes with a cost. This is a real problem of society today and particularly in London. In the past, not only did more mothers stay at home to look after their children but the extended family would also usually live in close proximity and be on-hand for help with regular childcare. When I think back to my own childhood, although my mum was a single, working parent we would be dropped off at my Nan’s before school and went there after school and often stayed over at weekends when my Mum had a second job. Contrast this to my own situation today as a single, working parent and the only family I have living close to me is my sister who has a very busy job and lifestyle which regularly takes her abroad yet even so she is my main support in terms of childcare. It is very common for people in London to not have relatives living close by so informal childcare can be hard to come by.
We did try a babysitting circle amongst our ante-natal class friends but I found that as I needed more childcare than others due to not having a ‘other half’ then I felt bad asking all the time while not really being able to reciprocate. However, having said this I have really supportive friends and many a time they have bailed me out when I’ve been stuck for childcare for Bear Cub at the last minute.
In the survey, when asked how much ‘time out’ parents managed to take during an average week, the majority of parents said just 0-1 hours (27%). When asked if they get enough time out for themselves, the majority of parents said they would really like to have more ‘time out’ from their children, to promote a healthy mind and relationship with their family (54%). With the busy demands of life, work and parenting there is very little time for socialising full stop let alone ‘time out’ but the health benefits of having some head space and me-time are huge and far-reaching for parents and have a positive knock-on effect for children.
Second to cost, a main barrier for parents using childcare to take time out for themselves identified in the survey is guilt – with almost 7 in 10 parents admitting to feeling uncomfortable about paying a childcare professional to care for their children while they take ‘time out’ – not to work, but just as a breather (69%). The guilt factor comes up time and time again when it comes to anything for ourselves as parents but burnt out and stressed parents is surely a much less desirable alternative to a little time out to save your sanity!
Findababysitter.com teamed up with child psychologist and parenting expert, Dr. Claire Halsey who shared her recommendations on what is a healthy amount of time out for a parent. She comments on the findings:
“Taking time out to recharge the batteries should be a necessity, rather than a luxury for parents, so we really need to see a mindshift from parents feeling guilty about using childcare to take time out, especially when informal childcare is not an option.
“The younger a child is, the harder it is for parents to take time out, but it’s at this early stage that parents should start to get in the habit of taking time out, otherwise it becomes much more difficult as time goes on.
“I recommend all parents to think of time out as a vital parenting skill, and advise them to take a minimum of 30 minutes every day, or 3.5 hours per week. This might be spent inside or outside the family home, whether this is having a bath, reading a newspaper, meeting friends or doing an exercise class.”
So, we’re not making it up, it’s official – taking a break from the kids and having some time to yourself is good for your health!
So how have you managed to get around childcare issues? What are your creative ways of grabbing 30 minutes a day of ‘me-time’? Share your comments below to help support those who are stuck for ideas.