As much as we love our children, every mom needs time to herself. But most of us know we don't get enough "me time." That's why a recent report that proclaimed parents get less than 30 solo minutes each day caused many moms to nod in agreement. As with just about everything parenting-related, though, the truth behind that headline is a bit more complicated.
The viral stat came from Munchery, a meal delivery service, based on a survey of 2,000 parents. When looping parenting duties into the "work" category, they found 32% of parents don't punch out until after 8 p.m. That left precious little time—to the apparent average of 30 minutes per day—for unwinding alone.
The survey and the headlines it spawned paint a pretty bleak picture, but without any full results published online, we're missing some of it. More extensive and credible research (plus anecdotal experience) demonstrates the truth about how much alone time parents get is more complex—and more positive.
Yes, we know that this generation of parents is spending more time with our children than the generations before us. According to the Pew Research Center, moms in 2016 spent an average of 14 hours a week on childcare, up from just 10 hours a week in 1965. Couple that with the increase in the number of hours moms spend on paid work, and yes, you've got a time crunch. (Motherly's 2018 State of Motherhood Survey found that most millennial mamas are most millennial moms are doing paid work: More than half of survey respondents, 53%, work full-time and 17% are working part-time.)
But you've also got a generation of really devoted parents. Dads, too, are spending more time on parenting then their own fathers did. Our generation is spending more time with their children because we are invested in them and enjoy taking care of them. While it is fair to point out that we need to spend more time on self-care (we can't take care of others if we don't take care of ourselves), headlines that frame the Munchery survey results as "depressing" are not.
Another survey, this one by parenting app Winne, found that 99% percent of millennials parents say they truly love parenting. And so while some surveyors may consider "parenting duties" to be just another form of work, those hours and minutes leading up eight o'clock aren't just full of thankless tasks—they're filled with family time.
Dinner time, bath time and story time aren't work in the same way that punching a clock at the office is. We work for these moments.
Yes, we absolutely need to carve out more "me time" for self-care.
Yes, 30 minutes is definitely not enough.
Yes, we are tired.
Yes, today's mothers are doing more than ever before.
And yes, it's worth it.
How to carve out more time for mama
If you are among those who only have 30 minutes of "me time" per day, it might be time to re-evaluate how you can get more time to take care of yourself. Self-care isn't just good for moms—it helps protect the kids, too, so here are some tips to squeeze out more than 30 minutes for yourself.
- Put yourself on the to-do list today: Pick one thing that can wait (hi, laundry), and take back that time for yourself.
- Be mindful about your time: If you've only got an hour, don't let it slip away in mindless Insta scrolling. Do something real and refreshing that's going to recharge you.
- Call in reinforcements: 30 minutes is just not enough. If that's all you've got, consider asking your co-parent, your child's grandparents, your BFF or a babysitter to step in and give you a longer break.