Before I became a mother, I knew that my life would change once a little one came into my life but I didn’t know exactly what that meant. In the first few months of motherhood, I was so absorbed in my new duties and my altered life that I forgot about myself a little bit. I remember standing around the house while Elle napped and having no idea what to do with myself. Sometimes I simply just stood around feeling lost for her entire nap.
Did I deserve to take a little bit of time–to steal away some minutes–and do something for me?
It wasn’t until I realized that I was suffering from post-partum depression that I knew the answer was YES. It was imperative for me to take care of myself and do some things for me. Whereas I sometimes felt selfish for taking a bit of time for myself, I now believe that not taking that time and allowing myself to rejuvenate is selfish.
These days I am a fierce proponent of having ME time and I urge all mothers (or parents, or anyone living) to find some way to fit in a little time for yourself during the day.
Do something for you. Maybe not every day, and maybe only for a few minutes a day, but do something for you. Something that you enjoy just for the sake of yourself.
I read an article on Scary Mommy last week that really got me thinking. It’s a terrible article and the second half is baffling (I truly don’t understand what point she is trying to make), but she talks a bit about how Mommy Me Time is “a massive crock of shit.” This made me really sad and then it made me defensive.
One of her points in the article is how maintenance (getting your hair done, taking a bath, enjoying hot coffee) does not count as “me time” and while I understand her point (this one at least), if one must take time out of the day and away from the kids to do a bit of maintenance, have the grace to enjoy the time to yourself.
For my part, it’s sometimes hard not to feel anxious about time away from the house and I am the worst about wanting to do chores or errands that will cause me to be gone. But, if I have to sit in the hairdresser’s chair, I might as well take some deep breaths and enjoy the silence (please don’t talk to me while cutting my hair!).
Why Me Time is Essential to Mothering
One reason why I am a proponent of Me Time is because I want my girls to see that I am a person outside of their needs. I love love love my daughters to the moon and back but my entire world does not revolve around them, nor do I think it should. Of course my world has greatly tilted in their direction since their births, but I need to keep a piece of myself to keep myself afloat. I’m not just a mother…or a wife. I’ll always be a woman first.
Additionally, time apart also means that my girls are relying on the care of someone else–they have time to bond with their daddy or sometimes even grandparents. We are incredibly blessed to have family close by who loves spending time with the girls, but if we didn’t have that support net, a babysitter could also provide and hour or two of help.
Having some time to myself allows me to recharge. As an introvert, I often think about what it means to be an introverted mother. I cannot recharge when I am going a zillion miles a day without a break or a chance to catch my breath. The time to myself lets me refocus my energies once I am back with the kids rather than constantly wondering when I’ll be able to have a break. And no, bathroom time is not a break when you have 20 little fingers poking under the door.
How do I spend my Me Time?
I’m sure you guys can guess the answer–but lately if the girls aren’t home then I’ll work on my sewing. I find sewing to be incredibly relaxing, especially when I have some jazzy bluesy music playing on Pandora. This year I’ve spent hours sewing and one of the best decisions that I made this year was to take a long-term sewing class that required me to get out of the house for 3 hours once a month. Plus I have homework every month and can use this as an excuse to sneak away. I’ve also been working on quilts for the girls and hope to start the actual quilting process next month.
My other favorite way to spend Me Time is reading a good book. Though more often than not these days this also means a nap. While I love the idea of reading in a coffee shop or some other cozy public place, I’m too distracted a reader to actually make this happen. Related to bookishness is the blog–I love to draft up posts and quiet Me Time is the perfect distraction-free time to spend time putting to words what is inside my brain (except for when twitter gets the best of me).
The key is to find something that you enjoy doing. Maybe it’s walking around taking pictures…or just walking around. Maybe it’s exercise or baking. I find that my interests change occasionally and that everything is a choice. I would love to scrapbook more, but I choose to do other things instead. If you’re having a tough time squeezing in some time, try to find other times when you could be using your time better for something you really enjoy. But when people ask me how I have the time, my response is that I make the time because it’s important.
I’m an introvert so my Me Time is for recharging, but I don’t think Me Time necessarily needs to be spent alone. Getting together with friends is still time that is important and while I need like 10 more alone times to every group time, I do cherish the nights that I’m able to meet up with girlfriends for way too many laughs.
How do I squeeze in Me Time?
Admittedly, yes, this is the tricky part. I’m a working mom, but I have the ability to come home during my lunch break for about 20-30 minutes (not including commute). That might not seem like a lot of time…and it is likely a waste of gas, but the few minutes I have in my craft room is well worth the time. Plus it means extra audiobook listening during the day! A few times a week I do choose a book over anything else while I’m eating my lunch. When I was working too far away from home, I would hide away at lunch and read or even hit the building gym for some exercise. I cannot stress how grumpy I was on the days when we had lunch meetings and I lost my Me Time!
I spend most of my evenings with Scott after the girls have gone to bed. Yes, we watch quite a bit of TV, but by 9:00 I’m mentally done for the day. A few nights a week, though, I make a point to take the time for myself rather than spending it in front of a screen. I read in bed or write. I keep thinking that if I could wake up an hour earlier, I could have a whole hour of Me Time…but sleep usually wins. ;)
The weekends are the easiest time for me to fit in something for me because the girls take naps or quiet time (we make Elle stay in her room for the duration of Evie’s nap…for everyone’s sanity). I use this time for exercise, blogging, and reading. When I was home during maternity leave, I always fit my Me Time in during nap. I wasn’t great about this with Elle–the guilt over keeping a clean house and being productive usually won, but I realized my errors with Evie and spent most of those hours curled up on the couch with a book.
Occasionally I send the girls off to run errands with daddy or they hang out with him in the garage. Sometimes while everyone is busy downstairs (playing or watching a movie or whatever) I’ll run upstairs and steal some time. In a pinch, I’ll squeeze in a bit of Me Time while at Target. While this could be included in the “maintenance” category because of the groceries, I also browse crafts and jewelry and clothing and books. Sometimes I’ll just wander around the store with my Starbucks until my timer goes off and it’s time to get back to business (yes really).
I’m always looking for more time. Always. There’s never enough of it to go around. But I do the best with what I have and try not to squander the time away. While I do sometimes catch myself standing around trying to figure out what to do with myself when the kids are gone, I no longer feel like I’ve lost myself.
How do you squeeze in Me Time? Do you find it is essential to your being?