Finding child-free time is as important as it is difficult, though fortunately, we parents have super-human levels of resourcefulness and mastering “me time” is something we can all get quite good. Here’s how Elaine Farrell at Boss Like A Mum and the bubble babysitting app gets it done…

1. Turn the car into a cafe

Next time you’re heading out for the day as a family, leave a bit earlier than you need to, and plan pray for the kids to fall asleep in the car. If they’re due a nap it should be easier, if not, then get Twinkle Twinkle on loop the minute you enter the vehicle. When they’re asleep, pull over outside a cafe and have one of you go grab the coffees. Ideally, the sun will be shining and you’ll find a parking space right in front of somewhere nice to sit. You can have a read of the papers, coffee in hand, while watching the kids sleep (windows ajar). If it’s raining, don’t worry about it, this plan is still a good’un. Just pull over literally anywhere and just enjoy the peace and quiet. It’s the simple things…

2. Have a lie-in

Granted, even sleeping ’til 7am feels like a lie-in nowadays, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about a proper lie-in, the type that’ll take you back to your Uni days. OK, fine, not that proper. But ’til 9am at least. “How” you ask? By mixing things up and booking a babysitter to play with your kids whilst you sleep in the morning, not for when you’re out in the evening.

Insane you say? Or does it make so much sense that it just completely blew your mind?

3. Get to the gym….crèche

Take advantage of the cheap on-site childcare offered by your local gym by dropping the little one off for an hour or two while you work up a sweat. On the cross-fit, in the sauna or even just having a fruit shake in the cafe, I’ve been reliably informed it all definitely counts.

4. Pick them up a bit later

If your kid is at a nursery that closes at seven but you’re ALWAYS there at five for pick-up, then break the routine once in a while and give yourself some breathing space for a quiet cuppa somewhere around the corner. Guess what, your little one will be fine. In fact, whisper it, but they might actually be happy to stay that bit longer without you – it usually means one-on-one attention from the staff and more time for snacks.

5. The play-date switch-up

As opposed to the oft-practiced “play-date ditch” – turning up for a play-datedropping your kid off, and then legging it – why not sit down with a Mum you regularly play-date with and thrash out a masterful plan to give both of you some much needed alone time.

In other words, you agree to take it in turns to watch both kids while the other one goes out to get sh*t done. You both win. Plus there’s this half-decent app for finding those like-mind mums…

6. The in-laws. Keep it short

If you’re fortunate enough to have close and willing family nearby then using them as babysitters is a given, but the key to keeping them willing – and preventing yourself from feeling too guilty – is to use them in short, sharp bursts. The types that let you keep your sanity and get things done, while keeping it not-too-onerous and manageable for them. Let’s face it, kids that aren’t yours are great fun for those first 60 minutes, after which you’ve run out of things to bribe them with, and they’ve sussed that you’re bluffing in any case. So using family for those short-term needs is a great way of keeping everyone happy.

7. Do something boring

If you know you’re due some time to yourself away from the kids, but are getting stressed out about organising something worthy enough of such a rare occasion, then you’re over-thinking it. Going Out is important but it doesn’t have to be Out Out to be time well spent. Get a local babysitter in so you can go out and enjoy a quiet coffee, a haircut or some shopping. These are all things that can help you chill out and rediscover some equilibrium. Parents are using bubble for exactly these types of occasions. Not your typical “special occasion”, but still pretty great.

bubble is an app connecting great parents to the great babysitters their friends already know. Get it on iOS & Android.

@bosslikeamum @bubble_babysit @mushmums