You used to do what you wanted when you wanted. You could spend the whole weekend watching basketball, riding your bike, playing video games, working on cars or doing anything else you enjoy. You answered to no one; shared with no one; owed your time and your energy to no one. Then you grew up.
As the years have passed, you likely have had much more competition for your time. School, work, friends, family and other obligations may have trimmed away what time was once available for you and your hobbies.
As your dating relationship developed, your “me time” probably dwindled. You spent much more of your life in “we time.” It was exciting. You invested in developing a new relationship, spending time together and getting to know each other.
The experience was similar when you became a new father, except with the addition of screaming and crying. You feel more tired than you ever expected. For many men, “me time” all but disappears when children are added to the mix. A new father discovers previously unimaginable levels of responsibility as he now must provide for and support the new baby.
Babies also can strain the relationship between the parents, as both are adjusting to the changes, the lack of sleep and the new pressures. As you adapt to the new baby and your added responsibilities, be sure to keep a focus on your couple relationship. Make time for date nights and other times to reconnect.
It also is important that you set aside some time for you. But how much time can you afford? That is not an easy question to answer. And you probably cannot answer it fairly by yourself. While it is important that you maintain your friendships with other guys and also have some time by yourself, you need to balance that time with your responsibilities to your children and to your partner. If your wife is responsible for the children all day, it might not be a good idea for you to go out with the guys three nights a week while she stays at home.
There is no universal answer for the question of how much time is available for activities not involving your family. And the correct amount of time likely will change throughout your life based on many factors, including how many children you have, how old they are, how many hours you are working, how many hours your wife is working and how strong your couple relationship is at the time.
Like with so many other relationship issues, what’s most important is that you have an honest, open discussion with your partner and that you reach an agreement together. Do not decide on your own how much time you feel entitled to. Instead, decide together how to use your few precious hours of free time.
Your free time is no longer unlimited, but it still is important. Because you have less free time today, make the most of it.