How much time do you get to yourself throughout the week?
Between baths, brushing teeth, changing diapers, shuttling kids here and there, managing tantrums, making meals, and folding laundry it’s likely you don’t have a lot of me time throughout your weeks. Being a parent is an amazing, beautiful, fulfilling thing, and it also comes with stress and challenges.
I saw a video recently of Molly Sims saying something like, “My two favorite things are being with my kids and not being with my kids.”
It’s. So. True. Even when I’m overwhelmed with those stinkers, I’m madly in love with them. That phrase has stuck with me because it makes me feel less alone for needing space as a mother. It took me quite a while to appreciate that two things can be true — you can love your kids and need a break from them.
Parent time off (PTO)
Every week, Jeff and I each take one might of parent time off (PTO).
We can use the night for whatever we want and on our PTO night, our partner takes on everything else. On my PTO nights, I like to read at a coffee shop, work on this blog, get dinner with a friend, go for a long walk while listening to a book, or get a pedicure. Jeff likes to go for a long run, work on a fun house project, fix up his bikes, or watch a movie.
When I’m on PTO Jeff makes dinner, gives baths, puts the girls to bed, cleans the kitchen, and preps the bottles for daycare. When Jeff’s on PTO, I do those things. When it’s not a PTO night, we divide and conquer those responsibilities.
Implementing PTO has been such a gift. PTO gives me the ability to do something just for me, without guilt or explanation. I get to decide each week what I need to feel fully me.
Parent time off doesn’t always work out perfectly (we have toddlers!), but most weeks we make it happen and I’m proud of us for prioritizing self-care.
Use PTO as a tool in your house!
I honestly can’t remember when Jeff and I started to consistently implement parent time off (PTO) in our house. We did it sporadically throughout the years, but I don’t think it was until after having our third child that I proposed the idea to him — “what if once a week I get a night to do whatever I want, and once a week you get a night to do whatever you want?”
I was pretty sure he would be into the idea and he was! So that same week we talked about it, we decided we would try it out for a few weeks, and the rest is history! I’m actually shocked it took us that long to make it a consistent thing, but I’m definitely glad we figured it out.
Make you a priority
I’m going to guess you’ve already heard this phrase or a version of it a trillion times, but if it hasn’t sunk in yet, let me be the trillion + 1 person to tell you — you can’t pour from an empty cup.
I’ve had to learn that lesson over and over.
Deep down, I know that I have to find time to take care of myself if I expect to take care of the little humans running around me, but it’s really easy to let that slip. PTO is a great tool to keep you honest and consistent about the time and space you’re carving out for yourself.
When I shared this PTO tool on my Instagram I got a bunch of messages like this “I talked to my partner and he’s in!! We’re going to try it next week”. Heck yes!! I hope that you read this and create your own version of PTO with your partner. And if you’re a single parent, I hope you have a tribe you can lean on to find PTO for yourself too! Even if it’s not weekly PTO, let’s create space for ourselves to thrive.