I know a lot of parents, women in particular, who struggle with ‘me time’ – otherwise known as time away from your children to do something, anything, without interruption. There is no doubting its benefits. We all legitimately need child-free time to refresh and re-energise.
But somehow it remains difficult to claim those regular me time moments without worrying or feeling guilty. So what can we do? Well, I’ve got an idea, and it involves re-conceptualising me time all together.
Simple for some…
A few years ago, my husband, the kids and I went on summer holidays with my brother, his partner and their kids. We arrived at the holiday house, and within half an hour, my husband and brother had planned a round of golf. Meanwhile, my sister in law and I were fuming at how quickly, and oh so easily, the men had scheduled time for themselves without the children.
Later that night, over cards and few ports, we had a rather interesting discussion. The upshot was this: My sister-in-law and I were annoyed that our men could so easily create time for themselves, and our men were annoyed that we whinged and whined instead of doing the same for ourselves.
We arrived at the holiday house, and within half an hour, my husband and brother had planned a round of golf.
My husband works full time and doesn’t spend as much time as he would like with the kids. But he still prioritises a mountain bike ride every Sunday morning. It is non-negotiable, and he is unapologetic. Mountain biking is his passion. I envy his conviction but instead of getting annoyed, I’m trying to emulate him.
What area of your life should be non-negotiable?
When my husband first instituted his Sunday morning mountain bike rides I was resentful. And if he arrived home two minutes later than agreed, I was irate. How selfish! How inconsiderate of me and my time!
But lately, I’ve been more understanding and less irrational. I know that he loves mountain biking and it keeps him fit. I understand that he needs time to do what he loves, and I appreciate that scheduling time for himself is reasonable not selfish.
So what has changed? My husband’s behaviour certainly hasn’t, but my attitude has. And fuelling this new found compassion is my passion. I now run a challenging, meaningful, rewarding and enriching business. I no longer have the energy to resent my husband for his passions. I’m too busy living out my own.
Are you passionately pursuing something you love?
Me time all the time…
Before having children, me time wasn’t in my vocabulary. It didn’t need to be. Me time was pretty much all of the time. But since having kids, my life seems to have been divided into work time, family time, partner time and so called me time.
But life with children rarely fits into such neat compartments. Because I love my work, it often feels like me time. Sometimes my kids come on work errands, turning work time into family time. And a rare dinner out with my husband is me time and partner time. That is why I’m challenging this idea of me time altogether.
If I unapologetically schedule time to pursue a passion, then am I scheduling me time or am I just living a good life? And if I love what I do when I’m away from my children, don’t I appreciate them more when we’re together? And if I’m living a good life don’t my children, my partner and myself all benefit? I think so!
So now when I negotiate with my husband to go to yoga classes or to work on a Sunday afternoon or to have dinner with a girlfriend, I’m not asking for me time. I’m creating an amazing life. And there is no reason to feel guilty about that.
Are you creating an amazing life for yourself, your partner and your children?
Jodie Benveniste is the author of Full Belly: Comfort and inspiration for pregnancy and birth and Little Bundle: Comfort and inspiration for new parents. Her business, Parent Wellbeing, helps you care for yourself so you can care better for your children.
Chat with other Mums about their me-time, how they organise it and what they do, in the Essential Baby forums.