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As kids get older they participate in activities that don’t require parents to stay and hang out. Use those odd bits of time during your kids’ activities to your advantage—everything from focusing on self-care to catching up on work.
If you’d asked me about free time a few years ago, I would have said, “What free time?”
Fast-forward to today, and I still find myself shuttling kids to a myriad of after-school activities, but there’s a big difference: I don’t need to stay.
Oh, sure. Our almost-teen daughter sometimes enjoys when I linger at the dance studio to watch some of her rehearsals. And we often hang out at the soccer fields for our son’s practices since they’re short. But a lot of the time what we find, especially with our daughter’s activities, is that we have a few hours to spare between drop-off and pick-up.
I’ve learned to view that time as an opportunity, not an annoyance. Here’s how!
1. Catch up on work.
There are times of the year when my work load is heavier than others, whether it’s tidying up loose ends for projects or managing additional blog posts. And since I started a novel this past November (more to come about that soon!), I find my spare time increasingly devoted to that, laptop in tow. Whether I have 30 minutes or a couple of hours, I find these blocks of time with definitive starts and ends, great ways to quickly barrel through the to-do list.
If your kids’ activities are close to home, use an hour or two to do a quick clean up, clean out or round of closet organization.
2. Catch up on errands.
When you work full-time, it can be hard to figure out how to fit in errands like grocery shopping or getting your oil changed. There are weekends, of course, but I’ve found it’s nice to have those to, well, relax (unless we’re shuttling the kids around—ha!). Use these odd bits of time to fit in those tasks, and save your Saturdays and Sundays for the things you want to do, rather than have to do.
3. Enjoy a quiet meal.
My daughter’s dance schedule typically rolls right over lunch or dinner, and many times she either eats a packed meal at the studio during her break, or she enjoys the free hour or two with her grandparents for lunch or dinner.
I use these free hours to enjoy eating alone. One easy option is the lunch meal deal at Giant, right up the street from the dance studio, where an entree (half a sub), a DASANI® and a bag of Deep River chips are inexpensive to buy and convenient to pick up.
Sometimes I’ll grab the meal and find a quiet spot in a nearby park—Frederick’s loaded with them downtown—and settle in to enjoy lunch there, and then take a walk.
Other times, especially when the weather’s chilly or rainy, I set up camp in my van and spend some time reading or streaming one of the binge-worthy shows I’ve been sucked into.
You’d be pleasantly surprised how enjoyable a show can be with a vehicle’s sound system and a delicious on-the-go, simple meal like this.
4. Do a little solo shopping or fit in a hair appointment.
It’s true I do the majority of shopping online, but occasionally I enjoy going into a store to try clothes on or to window shop. These little bits of odd time can be great for that, especially during the holidays when life’s busier than usual.
And, speaking of holidays, if you need something to eat while making your way from one store to the next, remember to check out a perfect pairing lunch meal deal at Giant. Being able to grab a simple meal like half a sub, DASANI and a bag of Deep River chips while you’re out and about, and without a lot of fuss, helps lessen the chaos during an otherwise hectic time.
And, holidays aside, I even find that having a few hours’ time can be perfect for a hair appointment—combine a little self-care with something that needs to get done anyway. If the appointment rolls over lunch, bring it to enjoy while you … wait a few hours for the color to be done.
5. Read a book or stream an episode.
I carry my e-reader with me wherever I go, on the off chance that I have a few moments here and there to catch up on a book club read or the next few chapters Jamie and Claire’s travails. I’ve also found that it’s fun to stream an episode or two of whatever show I find myself caught up in. And, like I mentioned in number three above, grabbing a quick and simple bite to eat, like the sub, DASANI and Deep River chips I enjoy, while relaxing and enjoying a story can be a really nice way to take a break from the hustle and bustle, whether it’s holiday season or just the normal weekly runaround.
I find my perfect pairing lunch deal, with half a sub, DASANI and Deep River chips, right in the deli section at Giant.
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