Finding Your Happy Place: Carve Out Time For Yourself No Matter What
Single parents know how busy a life can be. We juggle multiple tasks simultaneously all day, keeping our hands completely full and busy. And our brains are also on overdrive 24/7 as we keep multiple peoples’ schedules, needs and wellbeing in our heads at all times – with little or no backup.

How many of us have a running commentary in our heads saying, “must get up 5 minutes earlier to hang out the washing, must pack a kiwi for little Johnny’s lunch as they’re doing a Green day at Day Care, must remember to make that phone call or apply for that job. Did I wash my work pants? Did I book haircuts already? Did I write the date down??” At night as we finally drift off to sleep, the things we need to remember can dance around our brains well into the night unless we succumb, turn the light back on and write notes. And even then it might not stop.

Plenty of busy parents have full schedules and long to-do lists. But single parents have the unenviable task of doing it alone – without another adult to remind us, or to come up with the goods when we just don’t have time or energy to get something done.

Single parents have no one else to share the mental responsibility with, either. If something happens to your child, you’re up. If they miss out on a school event because they didn’t tell you in time, it’s on you. If they hurt themselves, get sick, experience a disappointment or setback, or get into trouble, it’s you who has to step up, deal with it and work it out.

Many single parents relish this total freedom in their parenting. But there is no question that it eventually wears you down. And thanks to the financial pressure that so many single parents face, going on a regular child-free getaway to relax and refresh, just isn’t an option.

We all need some tried and tested ways to claw back some personal time in which to re-energize and rediscover our happy, calm, centred selves in the midst of single parent chaos. These are my top three go-to remedies for when I’m feeling just a bit over-frazzled.

1. Take a Long, Hot Bath – Solo
Now I know as well as you how difficult that can be in a busy single parent household when we are lucky to be left alone to use the toilet, let alone for an entire hour-long bath.

But there will be occasions where another adult is present wherever you happen to be, your house, a hotel room, or a family member’s house. If there is a bath where you are, my advice to you is this: Use it. A long, hot, undisturbed, deep, fragrant bath is pretty close to heaven.

It’s even better if you have a good book or something to watch on your phone (depending how confident you are about letting it near the water!). Let the water cool down and refill it. Let your mind wander, forget for a little while where, who and what you are and just be in the moment. Oh yes, and never, NEVER book a hotel room without a bath. That’s just wrong.

2. Read a Great Book
I’m not a literary snob. I believe that a fiction book’s number one purpose in life is to entertain. If I want to learn something, I’ll study. If I want to work at something, I’ll, well, work. But when it comes to relaxing over a good book, I will always choose Sophie Kinsella over Gabriel Garcia.

No doubt your taste in books is different to mine – we’re different people after all. But no matter your preference, I think you’ll agree: a good book is one where you can lose yourself in the characters, the story and the scenery. Where you can get so caught up in the imaginary world that you view every interruption as annoying. Where you are willing to sacrifice precious sleep time to keep going for just one more chapter.

Sleep is so important for busy parents but sometimes it’s worth losing a few zs just to hold onto that delicious feeling of escape for a few minutes (or hours) longer.

3. Get Out Into The Sunshine
Now this one doesn’t always come naturally to me – I find myself thinking about dirt and wind and wasps and all sorts of excuses masquerading as inconveniences, simply because I’m lazy and generally have lots to do inside.

But there is a kind of magic to it. No matter how annoyed or discomposed I might be, if I actually get off my backside and head outdoors, I immediately feel better.

Not to mention that the kids perk up quite a bit too. And there’s much more space for them to work off their energy. Not to mention they sleep better after a bit of outdoor exercise. I sit on the deck and watch them wreak their mayhem while I doze over a newspaper. Bliss. Of course, a more active person might actually get out and run or cycle or goodness knows what (I’m really not good at getting into the minds of those exotic individuals).

My energy reserves always seem far higher once I return indoors after a long period outside. My good mood lasts longer and I find myself not sweating the small stuff. That magic sunbeam energy is better than a whole bottle of vitamin pills. After all, we encourage our kids to spend as much time outside as possible, so why not tap into those benefits for ourselves?

Whatever it may be for you: a run, a massage (that’s in my top five, definitely), a dig in the garden or coffee with a friend, find the thing that lifts you up and make sure you’re in a position to do it occasionally, no matter what you have to sacrifice to get it – it will enhance your life more than you know.

Emily is a consultant to parents, businesses and schools. She helps parents understand scientific information and expert opinions on various parenting topics, to help them make the best decisions they can. She helps businesses understand the value of their parent workforce and parent customers and helps them to make their businesses more parent-friendly. She also works with schools to improve parent-school relationships.

Emily’s podcast, Parents in the Know, is available on iTunes, Stitcher and through her website,, along with other great resources and books for parents.