Parents Get Just 32 Minutes of “Me Time” a Day, Survey Says — But Even That Sounds Generous

Young mother sitting at the table at home. She is holding her baby son whilst using a laptop. Her other son is sitting with his back to the camera, coloring in at the table, in need of Me Time.
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A recent study performed by the meal delivery service Munchery has found that the average parent of young kids gets about 32 minutes of me time per day, the New York Post reports.

My first thought when I heard that stat? That actually sounds like a lot.

Years ago, when I was swimming in babies and toddlers and diapers and breast milk and basically all that’s involved in the SAHM life, I remember confessing something to a fellow mom friend. I told her, in a hushed whisper, my deepest, darkest, dirtiest secret: that on the rare days when the stars aligned and all of the kids napped at the same time, I sat on the couch, watched grown-up TV, ate chips and cookies — and did absolutely nothing.

Much to my relief, she laughed and said, “Me, too!” Because you know what that meant? Me time. AKA, time to enjoy the quiet. Time to stop cleaning and wiping and feeding and sweeping and picking up and folding and putting away. Time to rest my body and my mind.

Most days, however, that didn’t happen. Most days, my kids didn’t nap simultaneously, which left zero minutes for “me time” between dawn and whatever time the last one finally fell asleep at night. And even then, I still had work to do or dishes to wash or clothes to fold or emails to answer or lists to make.

Me time was rare back then, and boy was it precious.

Now that my kids are all in school full time and I work from home, my days are still busy, but I do have more opportunities to take a minute or two for myself to read, go for a run, or watch a little Fixer Upper with my morning coffee. But I know that for many moms (SAHMs and working moms alike), me time is still often non-existent, and that’s not a good thing.

With the never-ending list of daily tasks parents need to complete, 32% of the 2,000 parents in the Munchery survey said they don’t really stop “working” until at least 8 PM, and we all know that once we sit down and flip on Netflix, we’re likely to pass out within minutes. So any chance of me-time goes bye-bye.

Also (and moms won’t be shocked by this one), the study revealed that “caregivers have to literally hide from their kiddos four times a week just to get a moment alone.”

Yep. Pretty sure all the moms who’ve seen tiny fingers sliding under the bathroom door, or are interrupted five times during a 10-minute shower because someone wants a snack, or someone sat too close to someone, or someone can’t find the red crayon are nodding along in agreement right now.

For so many parents, getting me time in means either hiding from our kids, sacrificing sleep at night, or waking up even earlier than then our children to enjoy a hot sip of coffee before hearing an angry toddler demand “the blue cereal bowl, not the yellow one!” while watching Peppa Pig.

That’s what we are left with as options if we want even a second or two of time to ourselves, and it’s depressing.

Carting the kids to and from 900 activities, school, the grocery store, and the pediatrician doesn’t count either, as you’re still “momming” the whole time from the driver’s seat. (Seriously, I had a friend recently recommend a podcast I could try while driving, and as much as that sounded glorious, I had to laugh at the notion.)

After catching wind of this study, I had to ask a few moms for their thoughts. Is 32 minutes accurate? Too generous? Or are there really unicorn moms out there who miraculously score me-time every day? And if so, can they teach us their ways?

Moms know that story all too well — we don’t stop until everyone does.
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One mom told me, “[It] depends how late I am willing to stay awake. I don’t seem to get ‘me’ time until the rest of the family is asleep.”

Ugh, yes, I can relate. Just last night, after traveling the whole weekend and getting only a couple hours of shut-eye, I was desperate for a few minutes to relax, but certain the tiny humans who live in my house (and who shall remain nameless) would not go to sleep. So there I was, still awake, still doing all the mom things, well past the hour I wanted to be.

Moms know that story all too well — we don’t stop until everyone does.

Another mom said:

“[I get me time] 30-45 mins every other or third day when I can soak in my garden tub and the hubs will take the baby. Even then, he will come in to ask me questions, if he can’t get her to stop fussing, wants to talk, whatever … But I don’t have a baby in my arms or am trying to clean up. So I guess that’s me time. I guess sometimes we have to change the definition of ‘me time’ and just enjoy not having a baby crawling on us, even if the baby is 10 feet away.”

Another mom shared that some days, me time equates to a whole 20 minutes alone in the shower, when she’s convinced her 15-year-old son to watch the baby.

“Then there is the rare Saturday or Sunday when my husband is actually home from working on the road and he takes the baby with him,” she adds. “But then most of the time I don’t even know what to do with myself. Isn’t that the truth? If, on rare occasion, we DO score little time to ourselves, we are lost and don’t know what to do with it, and by the time we figure it out, it’s over.”

Oh, motherhood.

Honestly, why is it so hard to prioritize time for ourselves? We know how badly we need it, for our own mental health, and for our ability to be good parents. Well you know what? I find this study’s findings a little depressing, but also motivating. I’m going to find a little extra me time today, somehow, some way. Not sure what I’ll do with it, of course. Will I watch Fixer Upper? Go for walk? Order some meals to be delivered to my house?

Who knows. But I do know one thing — I’m going to feel zero guilt in taking it.

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