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Using the Small Window: Utilizing Your (Little) Free Time as a Parent

Free time is probably something that you have very little of. As any busy parent would attest, free time is more scarce than Little Green Men. But when our children go to bed, there is that little sliver of free time before you feel like you could sleep for a thousand years. Whether it’s five minutes, fifteen, or, an hour (you lucky thing), what are the best ways for you to spend your free time while also making sure that it is going to restore you? 

Classes

You may not have the opportunity to find the best French classes in your local area right now if time is so scarce, but that doesn’t stop you from setting the wheels in motion. If our children are still too young to fend for themselves, you may find that an online course is better for you. We have to remember that even if we’re trying to maximize any free time, the littlest of actions do so much! 

So you could always start very simply by learning to immerse yourself in the language. You can do this by putting on foreign language shows and just having them play in the background. As much as we’d like to think that we could absorb the fundamentals of language just by doing this, this is better than nothing! 

Podcasts

If you are too tired to read, podcasts are the next best thing. Podcasts can be incredibly insightful, but you’ve got to choose a subject matter that you will get the most out of. If you are looking to increase your career prospects when your children are a bit older, there are many personal development and business podcasts. 

Also, you may benefit from audiobooks. Even if you can’t afford an Audible subscription, you can find many free books on YouTube. The benefit of having books on YouTube is that there are more practical ones than fiction on YouTube. Something like The 48 Laws of Power you can listen from beginning to end, and listen to many other personal development books, such as those by Dale Carnegie

Exercising

If you don’t have much free time to get a workout in, the reality is that we can break down exercise into minuscule components. Physical exercise is so important because it’s going to boost our energy and our productivity, and the great thing is that there are plenty of ways to do it. If you don’t have the time to go for a run but this is what you like to do, why shouldn’t you have a jog around the house? 

But you may also want to start thinking about investing in a shed, because if you really do have a passion for exercise but it’s fallen by the wayside since you had children, setting up your own little home gym is going to give you that motivation to keep going. When your children are asleep, you’ve got at least 10 minutes before they wake up! Take the baby monitor out to the shed, and do calisthenics or, if you prefer to box, hit that punchbag! It’s also worth pointing out that if you don’t have the time to exercise in one go, you can still break it down into fundamental components every day. 

The concept of getting fit is about increasing your heart strength and your muscular strength, and there are plenty of ways to do this, from yoga to lesser-known practices like isometrics. There is plenty for you to do, but also, more importantly, you can do it in very little time. 

Creative Practices

When our children are not sleeping, it can feel like our brain is slowly turning to mush, which is why it’s so important that we also choose practices that will improve our cognitive functions. When you look at what the successful people in the world do, they always utilize creative hobbies as part of their free time. Whatever interests you have, you need to dedicate a little bit of time to it. 

For example, if you like to write you don’t have to aim to get a chapter of your book done every night. Instead, you can start small by writing in a journal or a diary. There are many benefits to journaling because it allows you to get your thoughts on paper, which can be crucial if you are muddling through that brain fog. 

Additionally, you can learn to play a musical instrument. A musical instrument is something that will improve the gray matter and actually benefit your problem-solving, pattern recognition, sequence processing, and memory skills! Because if you are feeling like your brain is frazzled, you’ve got to start fighting against this in whatever way you can! 

Positive Downtime

Downtime is something we have very little of, especially when the children are young. But you’ve got to remember that downtime is going to help you to recover. When your children have been particularly demanding one day, having quality downtime is so important, but what are the best ways to do this? 

It’s beneficial to avoid social media scrolling because it will only help you think you are missing out on things. Quality downtime means using silence and rest to the best of your abilities. We talk about the amount of sleep that we need to get, but the reality is that you should focus on quality sleep. Meditation is one of those things that can improve the quality of your sleep but it also allows you to stop processing things. When we meditate on a subject, it allows us to get to grips with what we can do to be a better parent, but also what we can do to navigate the trials and tribulations of modern life. 

Because whether you are thinking of changing careers or you have been considering what you really need to do with your life when the children are a bit older, you’ve got to remember that while you may have very little free time, especially if your children are unwell or don’t sleep, this is not going to last forever! And whatever little free time you have, the fact is that you’ve got to use this very little window to the best of your ability!

 

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