Making Time for “Me Time”

As a contributor is Rachel Hamman’s upcoming book, Mom’s Night Out: Even Inmates Get Time Off For Good Behavior, I have learned what might possibly be the most important skill for good parenting. Taking time for myself and feeling good about it has made me a far better parent than I could have imagined. I thought this would be the perfect way to start off my column, because “me time” is the basis of effective parenting and lifelong happiness.

As parents, we become so consumed with our new little bundles of joy that the rest of the world disappears before our eyes. You walk, sleep and breathe your new baby, and your every thought is of that precious bundle of perfection. You dwell on how amazing they are and count their fingers and toes twenty times. This adoration and affection is very healthy and promotes solid bonding, but at what point does it take a decline and become less beneficial to you?

The first nerve-wracking days and sleepless nights turn into months of baby talk and feeding frenzies that will have you in tears, both from crying and laughing. Your free time is spent doing endless loads of laundry and picking up toys so you can vacuum. Your Sunday drives turn into carpooling and soccer games, and later your teenager borrowing your keys with a charming smile that you simply cannot refuse. After years of practice, you’ve mastered the art of mind reading and knowing what your children want or need, or what they are up to without even asking. You are totally confident that you are a pro at any situation your children can throw at you, so what’s left?

Someone asks you what you like to do, what you’re passionate about, and what you do in your free time. After moments of silence, you realize you haven’t got an answer. For the last chunk of time in your life, you have been “Mom” and you have forgotten who the “me” is that used to be. It happens to many parents, but fortunately there is a way to get yourself out of the rut. There is a perfect balance between dedicating your life to being a wonderful parent, and taking a few minutes of time out to recapture the great person you were before you became a parent. Keeping in touch with who you really are can be a life saver and will give you the tools to appreciate your children even more.

Taking a time out and making time for yourself should come naturally, but if you are a planner, pencil it in and make sure you take it. Tell your family when your time is going to be, and ask that they respect whatever limits you set forth. Never feel guilty for taking some time for yourself. It is absolutely necessary to keep you sane, and will make you a happier person in the long run. If you have spent the last several years dedicating every waking moment to your family, they may need to adjust to you taking some time for yourself. Explain to them what is happening and how they can help. Tell them what you are looking for, and be proud of yourself for expressing your needs. Your family may not even realize you need a break until you ask for one, and in most cases they will happily oblige given the right approach.

Taking time out for yourself doesn’t have to be a lengthy process, but it can be if that’s what you need. Here are some ideas for getting the time that you need and deserve:

Get a manicure

Take a bath

Read a book

Scrapbook

Write in a journal or diary

Take a walk

Go shopping

Take in a movie

Eat at your favorite restaurant

Call up an old friend

Catch up on correspondence

There are a variety of things you can do without the company of your children and significant other. It may feel strange at first, but you will learn to love the time you take for yourself. If you have lost yourself, you will again find what it is that makes you tick. If you are lucky enough to have kept a sense of who you are outside of your family duties, embrace what it is that makes you different, and learn something about yourself that you never knew. Remember the saying that in order to love someone else, you must first love yourself. The same goes for parenting, in that in order to truly be able to meet your family’s needs, you must first be able to meet your own.

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About Colleen Kappeler

Comments

  1. What a great article Jamie. I am guilty of this, with working, taking care of the kids, paying bills, housework, and all the other tasks that a mom does from week to week, I spend very little time for myself.

    I love to do crafts and there I see them sit in front of me and I always say to myself, not today I have to many things to do, maybe tomorrow. Tomorrow never comes.

    One of my goals for 2008 is to keep a better schedule and “pencil in” some me time. :)

  2. Thanks so much! I too am guilty of this – time just slips away so quickly..