As a parent, finding alone time to recharge is hard enough as it is, and date nights are certainly few and far between. Throw in homeschooling and living in a tiny box, and “me time” is likely to go flying right out the window—unless you make a conscious effort to keep it around—and “us time” is just as endangered.
Of course, making an effort to preserve these things is one thing. Actually succeeding on the seemingly impossible mission of finding time to relax-and-unwind-sans-kids is another thing entirely. I’ll admit that my husband and I struggle with this just as much as anyone, but we have found some clever ways to help ensure we get in a little bit of kid-free time each week.
Below are the tricks we’ve found most valuable for getting that precious recharge time during our roadschooling journey.
Wake Up Early or Stay Up Late
The “wake up early or stay up late” option is the easiest to implement, but definitely has its pros and cons.
- The pros are—obviously—the ability to read, watch a show, journal, or unwind in any other way you see fit in your own home while the kids are in bed.
- The cons are the fact that you’re likely to lose sleep, and you may be keeping the kids awake at night or waking them too early in the morning.
In our family, mom and dad staying up late has worked out alright for the most part. However, it’s probably best that every family experiments with this to see if either solution works better than the other, or if it’s best to toss the idea altogether of alone time while the kids sleep.
Schedule “Alone Days”
I know, I know, RVers don’t do schedules. Trust me on this one though—it’s well worth it.
By scheduling alone days for each parent, both parents are well aware that the day is coming, and whether that means they will be in charge of holding down the fort or taking the day off, they can be prepared.
Putting these days on the schedule helps make them more concrete, which in turn helps ensure the alone days actually happen. Meanwhile, saying you’ll have alone time “one day” is vague and unlikely to come to fruition.
Travel with Others
Traveling with other people may seem counterintuitive when what you desire is either time alone or kid-free time with your spouse. However, traveling alongside another family or two can actually be quite useful in this regard.
You see, the truth of the matter is that most RV families are struggling with this very same problem. This means they are highly likely to jump at the chance of childcare, setting the stage perfectly for a childcare exchange between families.
This option is especially great because it means you will have a sitter you know and trust wherever you and your friends decide to roam. On top of that, your kids will have a blast spending time with other kids, both when it’s the neighbor’s turn to babysit and when your turn rolls around.
Seek Out Childcare Options
Of course, traveling without friends doesn’t have to mean no childcare at all. Many cities have drop-in child care options or “parent’s night out” events that are perfect for traveling families looking for a single night of care.
Additionally, there are some gym chains that offer childcare at all or some of their locations, meaning you can have some alone time and get your workout in at the same time.
These gyms include:
- YMCA (select locations)
- Gold’s Gym
- 24 Hour Fitness (select locations)
- LA Fitness
We also love the childcare option at IKEA, which allows parents to drop off their potty-trained kids who meet the height restrictions for up to 60 minutes, free of charge. Parents must stay in the store during that time, but considering the enormous number of displays and the tasty cafe the store boasts, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Want even more time? Become an IKEA Family member to get as many as 90 minutes per visit.
Sign Up for Classes and Camps
Finally, there is the option of seeking out classes and camps for your child to attend. Over the summer we signed our son up for a local cooking day camp. He had an absolute blast, mom and dad got in a couple of dates, I personally got a TON of work done, and we were all very ready to be back together when the week was over.
Most cities have camps available during the summer, and parks and recreation departments often provide super affordable summer camp options. Winter, fall, and spring break camps are also an option in some places, and drop-in homeschool or evening classes are almost always available during the school year.
Camps and classes can get expensive, but in my opinion they are a good option for a few reasons:
- Your child is having fun and learning new things in a safe environment with accredited staff.
- There are almost always camp and class options available no matter where you happen to be. Need a drop-in option? Call ahead.
- You can pick which type of class or camp your child takes, based on your needs in terms of time alone and how long you feel comfortable leaving your child.
This is how we’ve managed to squeeze in dates and time for ourselves during our 3 years of travel. While we adore spending most of our time together as a family, our kid-free times are important for keeping us all sane and happy.
I know I’m not the only one that needs time by myself and occasional dates with my husband, so spill the beans. How do you create opportunities to recharge yourself and reconnect with your spouse while on the road?