Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Me Time (Part 2) :: Mom2Mom

A conversation between Moms about the hard points of this motherhood journey.

A couple of days after last week's Mom2Mom post published I went back and read it.  And I realized that what published wasn't really what had been on my heart to write.  Somehow it ended up being a tip or how-to post when really I wanted to write a from-the-heart post.  So I'm giving it another try today.

Today's Mom2Mom conversation is: Me Time.

Honestly, the concept of "me time" has always made me uncomfortable.  Back before I had children (aka when I knew everything), I listened with horror as moms talked about needing a break from their children.  I so desperately wanted to be a mom that the idea of gleefully leaving my child with a sitter so I could pursue my own agenda sounded self-centered.

After all, isn't self-denial and sacrifice the primary requirements in the Mom job description?!

Then I became a mom.  You would think that my view of "Me Time" would have changed.  But it didn't.

I still thought "Me Time" was selfish, only now I felt guilty because I wanted it so badly!  If I went out with a friend and left my family at home, guilt set in.  If I sequestered myself in my bedroom after my husband came home from work, guilt set in.  If I left my family for an entire day or overnight, I tried to make it up to them and ignore the guilt!

But, as any caregiver will tell you, if you don't take time for refreshment and renewal you will burn out. 

I think that's what happened to me about two years ago.  I just plain burned out.  Six years of meeting the needs of my family 24/7 had used up about everything I had to give.

I didn't have an epiphany or any kind of dramatic moment.  I just slowly started changing how I view "Me Time."  Now I see it as something that's necessary for my own well being. 

Me Time isn't about fulfilling my own needs or wants. 

If I get focused on what 'I' want and what 'I' need then I'm probably going to become frustrated with the people and events that get in my way.  I'm going to require my family to make sacrifices that aren't in their best interest so that I can get what I want.  In that case, Me Time is selfish, and I've so been there!

Me Time is about gaining perspective and a clear view of my life. 

When I have a girls night out with my friend and we talk about all the crazy and annoying stuff our kids do, then I come home with the perspective that my kids are normal and healthy.  And that they aren't trying to make me lose my mind on purpose.

When I spend an occasional night away from my family, then I come home with a greater appreciation for sweet bedtime hugs and snuggles.

When I spend an evening secluded in my bedroom reading a book, then I feel creative and energetic for having fun as a family.

So, if you are early in your journey as a mom, let me share my heart - this is a marathon not a sprint.  Take a break from mothering every once in a while and reposition your perspective.  Your family will benefit just as much as you will.

What is your opinion on Me Time?  Selfish or Needed?  Do you take regular breaks or is it hard to find the time?


Amy said...

Well said, Stephanie, and I totally agree! Me time can be very selfish: it can be demanded and create tension on the family. OR "Me time" can actually be a gift to my family. Yes, time away does refresh and refocus--and honestly, makes me a better wife and mother! Thankfully, my husband has realized this and is works to give me "Me time".

Is is still hard to come by? Yes! Nights out with a friend or overnights happen pretty seldom for me. But, I am thankful when they do work out! Sometimes all I can manage is a trip to the grocery store by myself. My husband has urged me to use that time to recharge as well. It's changed my perspective....definitely a good thing!

Thanks for sharing!

Carrie said...

This is a marathon - not a sprint! Well said! And a good reminder.

I, too, have been consumed by guilt a time or two. It's hard to get past that horrid mommy guilt sometimes! However, I do try to only "take off" when I know I'm reaching the "boiling point" and just need to get away and have some down time and be refreshed. Then, as you pointed out, I'm more eager to come home to the hugs, kisses and expanding vocabulary (that is constantly being tested out!) by my little ones. Time away is HEALTHY!

Stephanie Kay said...

Amy, having husbands that understand the value of giving mom time off is so important! Joel understands and has no problem with me going shopping in the evening, arranging Girls Night Out, and even an occasional night away. It just depends on what's going on in our lives and how much stress he has at work.

I think my guilt comes into play because he doesn't have guy friends to hang out with or do overnight trips with. I feel bad for him and keep praying that will change because he needs the support as much as I do!

Stephanie Kay said...

I'm trying to learn to take the needed break BEFORE I get to my boiling point. Lately I've heard myself saying "will you please be quiet" and "please get off of me" a LOT. So I think I'm getting close to my boiling point. Good thing I have a Girls Night Out planned for this week! :)

Allie said...

You brought up a great point, "me time" is all about your perspective. Is it to "run away" from your family and responsibilities for the day OR is it simply to recharge? What I mean is, if you feel you need to run away then maybe something is missing or wrong in your family life. The first few months of my first born's life I had postpartum depression and I felt the need to run away. It passed eventually but the need to run away was a sign something was wrong.
Luckily, I have not felt that way since and it's been 12 years. Now, I get out by myself or with friends simply to recharge. I come back ready for hugs, dishes and bike rides with the family.It's a completely different perspective, it feels more like a want than need. (Although, time away is a need and should be met.)
Also, when I felt I "needed" to get away, time away was guilt ridden. Because I knew something was wrong. Now, I only feel guilty if time away is excessive. (I admit there are times, with older kids, mine are 10 and 12, we do not interact all day because they do their own thing. I stop myself and am sure to ask them to a movie, dinner, bike ride, game, etc.)
Dear Moms with younger kids, don't feel guilty about leaving the toddler with daddy to go out to dinner with your friends. When you walk through the door later that night you will feel more love for your family than when you left. I promise. And you will be a better mom.
Thanks for listening. I haven't had mommy talk in a while. :-)

Stephanie Kay said...

Allie, you make a good differentiation between healthy and unhealthy Me Time. Wanting to escape your family is definitely unhealthy, and I have SO been there! I've never been diagnosed with postpartum depression but in looking back at the months after my children were born, I've wondered if that's what I experienced.

I actually have a Girls Night Out planned for this weekend and am looking forward to it. My friend and I will shop and eat and talk and stay at Chili's until they kick us out. :) I'll come home exhausted and wired at the same time. I'll have tons of ideas for my home and family and feel that what I do is important and the best job in the world.

Allie, I hope you'll join the mommy talk often! My oldest is almost 8 so I need moms with older children to give me advice and encouragement. :)

Unknown said...

Honestly, I feel like I'm sort of selfish or am less of a loving/devoted mother, because ME time is a big part of my life. I have no problem leaving town for a blogging opportunity, or going to a retreat, or meeting a friend for dinner. My husband and I try to get out on dates and trips when we can.

BUT I know it's important for me. I love the emboldened points you made, and I hope it speaks to women who don't get away for ME time, either because they feel guilty or their husbands don't support it (which I hear of a lot as well).

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