"Me time". I hear this term bantered around a lot in the parenting community, and it got me thinking: what exactly is “Me Time”; and as a community of parents have we redefined its meaning to refer to any period of time alone?
Here’s where I’m going with this. Before having kids, a haircut was just a haircut. A trip to the grocery store was just a trip to the grocery store. Going to the toilet alone was…well anything else was just weird.
The things I considered “me time” were things like reading a book outside in the hammock, or playing my guitar, or writing in a journal. Or other things, like going out with girlfriends, or doing some sort of learning and development course, or going to dinner with my husband. Any type of activity that involved things or people I was passionate about: was “me time”.
ME time. With the emphasis on the “me”. It was doing things that defined me as a person. Things that fulfilled my emotional needs. Things that connected me to my core beliefs, dreams and desires. It wasn’t doing day-to-day chores alone.
As a parent “me time” is more elusive - obviously. We now have little humans who we are solely responsible for twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. But does that mean that we should forfeit our “me time” entirely? “No it doesn’t”, I hear you all say. BUT, here’s my question to you:
As a community have we managed to subtly redefine the term “me time”, in a way that effectively means we have agreed to relinquish it almost entirely?
Is a haircut still just a haircut as a mum? Or is your basic trim now luxurious “me time”? Is a trip to the store without your kids, just something that you need to do in order for yourself and your family to survive? Or is it now “me time”? You get where I’m going with this?
It’s like that saying, “it’s not babysitting when it’s your own kids”. It’s not “me time” if it’s not time spent doing activities that connect with your inner “me”. Now that we’re clocking up hours of solo chores as “me time”, how many hours do we have left to actually do that real ME stuff without feeling guilty about it?
“Me time” is important – super important. Having the time to nurture yourself and your passions is absolutely key to being a healthy, happy person. By default, this also enables you to be the best parent, partner, friend and family member you can be too. We need to stop the guilt game, and stop the martyrdom too. It’s perfectly reasonable to make time in your life for yourself. Sacrificing this time entirely doesn’t make you a better parent (or partner, friend, or family member), than those who insist on having their “me time”.
We need start by giving ourselves permission to reclaim our “me time”. Then we need to communicate with the people in our lives. If you have a partner, talk to them. Be open about the things you need, and allow them the same opportunities. Once we’ve done that, we need to get creative with it. The opportunities may be less or require more organisation than they used to, but the opportunities are still there. Wake a little earlier, or ask a few more favours from friends and family. Join a community group (Hello Mamas is a good one) and find other mums in your area that you can get to know, and then perhaps create a roster where you all get a little "me time" once a month whilst the others look after the kids. Schedule “me time” in, in the same manner you schedule your children’s activities (and use black marker pen so you can’t rub it out).
There are ways to make it work and to make "me time" another priority in your life, rather than the thing that’s just gotta give when other things come up. The hardest part is convincing ourselves (and the wider parenting community) that it’s okay to put our own needs first sometimes.
What do you consider "me time"? Has it changed since having children?