August 1, 2013

The 30-30 deal: How I stay (relatively) sane

The 30-30 deal

Thirty minutes. It’s a relatively short amount of time, right? But I’m convinced these little half-hour segments are the key to a happy life and marriage. A while back, my husband and I realized that there were lots of things we both wanted to do, but felt like we didn’t have time for. As a mom, I sometimes feel like I’m missing out on some things others might take for granted, like a long, hot shower, or uninterrupted sleep. Parents can always find time for their children, but sometimes we neglect to find time for ourselves. We came up with a simple, but life-changing solution. We call it the 30-30.

Here’s the deal: every day, we each take a thirty-minute break from our lives as parents. We are “allowed” to use that precious half-hour doing anything we want; exercising, napping, showering, meditating, swimming, pinning recipes, staring into space, and anything else we’d feel compelled to do. Well, anything that takes 30 minutes or less. It’s a great setup. It keeps us from going crazy or forgetting we exist outside of our parental identities. There’s no set schedule; sometimes I take my thirty minutes at 8:00am, and other times, right before bed.

Taking our breaks separately is a necessity, but I like it. Michael can participate in his manly hobbies without me tagging along, and I can do pilates without him checking me out the whole time. Not that I mind all that much. I’ve only been married for three years, but I know how important it is for both of us to have our own hobbies (as well as hobbies we enjoy together). Since our hobbies are so different—his include biking, music production, and drawing, while mine include singing Disney songs (don’t judge me), hula hooping, and trying new recipes—it only makes sense to take some alone time to enjoy them. Plus, when you’ve got weird hobbies (finger knitting, anyone?), the absence of others that might be married to you is a real bonus.

I always feel rejuvenated after spending my 30 minutes doing something solely for me. I’m totally aware of how selfish that makes me sound, but I love my “me-time” enough to ignore it. Completely. I feel especially great when I use my half-hour to exercise, but let’s be honest. A thirty minute hot shower sounds a little more appealing than a thirty minute hot run. Am I right? Ask my hamstrings.

I’m surprised when other parents tell us our plan is revolutionary. Like they’ve never even considered that they could take advantage of the built-in-babysitter (your spouse) they have living with them. It may have taken us a few years for us to figure it out, but there’s no turning back now. In fact, we’ll probably continue to up the ante by adding time to our parenthood breaks. Thirty minutes becomes an hour, an hour turns into 3, and eventually, we’ll be taking individual week-long vacations to Cabo before we come home. I mean, that sounds doable, right?

Debra Carpenter, a Lebanon, TN native, is a novice mother, wife, and college student.
She writes about the parts of parenthood you didn’t expect when you were expecting.
Email her at and visit the website at

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