Although I didn’t recognise it at the time, before I had children, my entire life was me time.
I mostly ate what I wanted to eat, when I wanted to eat it.
I managed to fit in and enjoy daily exercise.
I went to the movies regularly.
I read books.
I spent afternoons casually browsing at my favourite shops.
I watched entire TV series, from start to finish without missing an episode.
I even went to the bathroom when I needed to go, and without an audience!
I was pretty good at me time.
Why is being good at me time so hard now?
An aside, I actually really dislike the phrase me time.
I think it is specifically the word time that I have an issue with…it implies scheduling, planning, a beginning, and an end. Me time is supposed to be liberating…I am not supposed to feel like I am on the clock. I think it feels especially restrictive as me time used to be spontaneous, it was open ended, me time was simply my life!
Having to actively schedule me time, planning what you will do in your me time, and recognising that it will have an end is an adjustment.
But it is an adjustment that is well worth making.
Getting some time to yourself for yourself is vitally important to feeling content in motherhood.
If it helps, think about motherhood as your job.
I know some will say that motherhood is not a job, it is a privilege…and while that may be true, many of us devote the majority of our waking hours to the emotionally demanding tasks involved in motherhood so, while I do think perspective is important, whether you call it a job or a privilege, it can be a full time challenge!
If you had a full time job, you would be entitled to four weeks holiday a year.
This is to prevent burn out.
Burn out is characterised as, “Exhaustion, lack of enthusiasm and motivation, feelings of ineffectiveness, it also may include a dimension of frustration or cynicism, it results in reduced efficacy.”
When I am honest with myself, I know exactly what happens when I don’t get enough time to myself.
I start snapping at my kids for completely age appropriate behaviours (I am looking at you Lydia. She begins every morning with a tantrum because she wants to eat brekkie for brekkie and won’t accept my explanation that brekkie is not a specific food that you can eat. Some mornings this is charming and amusing. Other mornings it is not.).
I get bored with reading the same Peppa Pig book over and over and over again and with pretending to look for Power Rangers Energems in the garden.
I am burnt out.
I am disengaged and unmotivated.
And while I can’t put in a leave form requesting a few weeks off, I can make it a priority to schedule an hour or a day of me time.
But I don’t have any time!
And even if I did have the time, I feel guilty enjoying myself when I am apart from my kids!
To those justifications, I say treat yourself as well as you treat your kids.
You believe that activities and play dates are important for your child’s wellbeing so you prioritise them.
Exercise, getting a massage, meeting a friend for coffee are important for your own well being so you need to prioritise them in the same way.
Think about your good mothering days and your bad mothering days.
How did those good days feel?
Did your good days come after you had a restorative break?
What about your bad days?
What emotions did you experience during a bad day?
Did your bad days come after a string of intense parenting, when you were unable to relax or reenergise?
Wouldn’t motherhood be amazing if we could enjoy more good days than bad days?
I initially wrote this piece as one post but it was overwhelmingly long so I split it into three.
Hopefully today I have convinced you that me time is crucial feeling calm and content as a mother.
On Monday, we will talk scheduling me time.
The final post will be about what to do during your me time.
Instead of answering the calls of, “Mom! Mom! Mom!” think about saying, “Me! Me! Me!”