How do I make time for myself?

Family time is important -- but everyone needs space, too.
Family time is important -- but everyone needs space, too.
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If you're a parent, the weeks may seem to zip past in a blur. After play dates, soccer games and rides to school add up -- not to mention your own personal work schedule -- you might realize that you hardly spend a moment alone. With families constantly on the go, is it ever possible to kick back on your own?

Setting priorities and boundaries is an important step in making more time for yourself. Write down the activities you do during the course of your week, and put the most important ones at the top. Decide which activities you can take off your list, and then set boundaries by learning to say "no." Since many of us have trouble saying "no," look to a trusted friend to help you practice different ways of politely turning people down. Rehearsing with a friend will make it easier for you to say "no" the next time your neighbor knocks on your door and asks you do dog-sit for the weekend [source: Erickson].

Now that you've made your to-do list a little shorter, it's time to get organized. You can use low-tech tools, like a calendar, or high-tech ones, like scheduling software for your laptop or smartphone. Have one place where you record all of the family's activities -- this will help you keep things running smoothly. Hang a dry-erase board someplace the whole family will see it, such as the refrigerator door, and write the day's appointments on it so that every family member knows where everyone else is. Keep one grocery list so you won't waste time making extra trips to the store for things you forgot.

Also, make sure that your laptop and phone aren't costing you time. For instance, if your devices have a feature that alerts you every time you get an e-mail, turn that feature off and set aside a specific time to check your e-mail. A constantly beeping phone will rob you of time and leave you feeling harried and stressed [source: Military Youth on the Move].

Make more room in your schedule for downtime by sharing resources, delegating and not trying to be perfect. Experts recommend sharing resources with others, such as taking turns making dinner with another family so that the other parents can have a date night [source: Erickson]. Being a perfectionist is counterproductive, and it's important to set reasonable goals.

When you use good time management, organize your life and make time for yourself, your whole family will be happier. For lots more information on home organization, see the links below.


Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • Casey, John. "6 Tips for Better Time Management." WebMD. 2004. (March 7, 2010)
  • Erickson, Martha. "Growing Concerns: Me-Time for Moms." 2009. (March 7, 2010)
  • Kendrick, Carleton. "Over-Scheduled Kids." Family Education. (March 8, 2010)
  • Military Youth on the Move."Finding Time for Yourself." Feb. 23, 2010. (March 6, 2010),CID:31.100.150. 500.310.,