Breaking out without breaking the budget: creative ways to get me-time

This morning Zach woke himself at 5:40 by pooping.  I changed his diaper, put him back in his crib with a few toys, and told him he needed to give me at least another hour.  By 6:24, he was crying again loudly, so in an effort to keep him from waking up Eliza, I covered his mouth firmly with my hand and stubbornly yet gingerly made my way down the creaking stairs.  I actually sat him on the sun room floor in his hysterical state and yelled at him to stop crying because it was too early for me to deal with it.  Of course, Eliza found her way down the stairs a few minutes later.  This has for some reason been the story of my mornings for about two weeks (since he got the chicken pox).  Well, not the yelling part, but the getting up part.

Needless to say, I need a break.  But I always need a break.  Every parent – working or not – always needs breaks.  I love my job and I love my family, but I have to get away sometimes.  It can be really challenging both financially and emotionally to break out of the house.  But I know I have to find ways to do it.

So, here are three suggestions:

1. Swap babysitting with a friend – I think my mom friends and I talk about this way more than we actually do it, but it really does work.  I’m going to challenge myself to commit to doing this for two date nights a month (so with two friends a month).  On Valentine’s Day, I babysat for a friend with three kids.  I put my own kids to bed, drove over to her house, and from about 7:30 until 9:30, she and her husband had a date night for I’m guessing about $30.  Her two eldest were awake and we just watched a movie and read books and they went to sleep at 8:30.  Then I read a book in the peaceful quietude for an hour.  It was actually a lot more restful than being in my own house.  What’s funny is my friend thanked me profusely, but said how much she felt guilty about having me care for her kids.  How silly is that?  I’ve put lots of my friends who don’t have kids yet to work so Greg and I can get alone time (thanks Jenn, Josh, Amy, Andy, Brandon and Gaby – just to name a few!).  There’s nothing to feel guilty about.  Real friends help each other out – even if that means sitting in your house for you so you don’t have to be there.

2. Start a Mom’s Night Out – Just today, I finally sent out invitations to the neighborhood moms I know for a monthly night out.  I polled everyone for their weeknight availability and we set a standing date and time of 8 p.m. on the third Monday of every month.  There are only two rules – stay under $20 a person and 20 minutes of travel time.  Starting it that late means that kids will be sleeping or close to it when we meet.  We will all rotate the responsibility to plan the event, and I’m sure we’ll do late dinners out, coffee shop meetings, and the like, but even doing chick flick nights or manis and pedis in someone’s home would be enough of a break.

3. Share babysitters – It’s a lot of fun to get together with moms during the day while your kids play with a babysitter.  You can do this pretty inexpensively and possibly even find a mother’s helper who is home-schooled or can come over after school.  My friend, Tracy, organizes bi-weekly meetings like this at her house where we drink tea and (in theory) knit.  I LOVE these.  We all pitch in for the babysitter and rotate bringing snacks.

If you have a great idea of how you balance your budget with your need to get away, post it here in the comments section!  I’ll probably read what you write sometime around 5 or 6 tomorrow morning – unless Zach decides to have some mercy on my tired soul.

2 thoughts on “Breaking out without breaking the budget: creative ways to get me-time

  1. yea!!!! i am so stoked about the mom’s night out AND the babysitting swap. i was just telling laura that i have always hesitated with the babysitting other people’s kids because frankly the thought makes me twitch. i am stressed out and tired out by my own brood, to even think about taking one 1-3 more kids one night, even with the hope and promise of reciprocity, completely freaks me out. SO, the brilliant person who suggested doing this AFTER the kids go down is now my hero. I can totally babysit a house and a glass of wine, a good book or movie… or maybe even just an hour of semi-silence. i can even handle the occasional kid wake up and put back down routine.

    john or i sometimes escape to go to a late movie alone (or last minute neighbor friend who needs to disappear for a couple of hours too) after the kids are down. sometimes its nice to just walk around somewhere, a nameless face in the crowd…

  2. Thanks for the tip on having a friend come over while my kids are sleeping and read. That is totally do-able! If you need more people for your swap then count me in 🙂

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