Parents only have 32 minutes of 'me time' a day

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock 

In news that will surprise approximately no one raising small children, parents have just over half an hour of "me time" per day, according to a new survey.

The research, commissioned by meal delivery service Munchery, found that mums and dads get a measly 32 minutes to themselves, once they've finished working and parenting.

And, if you've ever locked yourself in the pantry with a block of chocolate for even five minutes respite, then you're not alone. Surveyed participants said they hid from their kids on average four times a week - just for a bit of space. 

According to the survey, full-time working parents spend an average of 18 hours per week directly taking care of their kids, and most don't clock off until 8pm once parenting duties are over for the day.

Is it any wonder we're scrambling for a few precious scraps of "me time".

While the survey results aren't exactly breaking news, they're a reminder of just how hard it can be for parents to find time to ourselves - and why we need to be making it a priority.

Ask any mother or father however, and they'll tell you that it's not that simple.

The thing is, the concept of  "me time" tends to morph a little (read: A LOT), when you become a parent. 

For some, doing the grocery shopping sans kids is a veritable thrill, along with other mundane chores or tasks - like donating blood or having a shower. For others, "me time" means turning into a "Mombie": a mum who stays up way past their bedtime, even though they're exhausted, for some precious alone time when the kids are asleep.

Advertisement

That "me time" is such a precious commodity is precisely why so many mothers have come out in support of brow queen Kristin Fisher, who banned children from her salons this week. "It simply isn't fair to the other clients who have come solo, who for them this is their monthly treat/splurge and want some peace and quiet whilst they have their brows or lashes done," Ms Fisher wrote in a post to Instagram, to the relief of many of her clients.

But with children to care for, emails to answer and washing piling up, taking time out can often leave parents feeling guilty and "selfish" - despite the fact that parental burnout is very very real.

Philosopher and father-of-two Damon Young has a different opinion of "me time". He writes, "Its worth is existential: 'me time' is for care of the self. This is selfish, not because it thieves from others, but because it sees the self as an adventure: something to keep revising and refining.

"At its best, this adventure is no egotistical conceit: by developing ourselves, we have more to give others. With regular 'me time' we are stronger, more lucid, courageous or aware of our own flaws. At the very least, we are simply more sane."

Hell yes, to more sanity.

By prioritising "me time" however, we're also modelling the importance of self-care to our kids, of nurturing friendships, of looking after our health, or of pursuing hobbies and interests beyond work and parenting.

So the next time you feel guilty about taking a whopping 32 minutes out of your day to read a book, or grab a coffee with a friend, or run to a yoga class, be kind to yourself and remember: it will only make you a better parent.