Are you head over heels in love with your young children? Do you pinch yourself thinking how in the world you got so blessed to be the mother to these amazing beings? Do you find yourself stopping every once in a while to watch your kiddo and wish that time could stand still? Do you spend whatever “free time” you have thinking about how to make their life just that much more enjoyable; from planning playdates, to signing them up for activities, or planning their next birthday party?
But, are you also that mother who barely has time to breathe, let alone think about yourself?
ARE YOU ONE OF THESE TWO MOMS?
The stay-at-home mom whose day perhaps looks something like this: get children up, get them dressed and fed, entertain them, start potty training one, while nursing or bottle feeding the other every couple hours, then start nap time for one while you quietly try to entertain the other simultaneously, then throw in a load of laundry (oh my God is it only 11:00 AM?!), then rock the baby again because he/she is up FAR too soon, then start lunch for one, oops baby is up again and hungry (didn’t they JUST eat?!), then pick up after the other (did a hurricane just come through?!), then try for the second round of naps for each only to shut the door of one when the other one wakes up crying (is my significant other home yet?!), then eat your lunch while trying not to drop bread crumbs on baby’s head, then do your 100th diaper change of the day (oh great a “blow out”, on to another outfit change and load of laundry), then start thinking about dinnertime, then bath times and stories, then clean up and somehow managing to eat your dinner at 10:00 PM with your eyes partially closed.
Or perhaps you are that working mom whose day perhaps looks something like this: get children up, get them dressed and fed, get yourself dressed (well I guess this outfit kind of matches, oh well, no time to pick something else), drop them off at the sitters, hurry to work (how am I going to be late, again?!), try to focus on work without thinking about the million things you need to get done at home, making sure to be just as productive as your co-workers who aren’t spending so much of their time hooked up to a breast pump, run out of work to do the daycare dash and get to your kiddos right before the doors are closing (I know, I know, won’t happen again, so sorry I’m late!), then fly home and make dinner for your kid, throw in laundry and prep for the same thing again tomorrow, then bath time and books and bedtime, once again managing to eat dinner at 10:00PM with eyes half-open.
In many ways, would you say your life is currently revolving around your children?
If you answered “yes”, let me tell you, you are not alone! I can’t tell you how many times I thought to myself before becoming a mom, “I won’t be one of those moms who let their every waking moment revolve around their children and entirely forget about their own needs, dreams, and desires.” And if you answered “yes”, let me tell you, that there is no shame in being one of those moms. Being one of those moms simply means that your children couldn’t be more lucky to have you. You go out of your way, most days sacrificing your own needs and personal hygiene (am I right? ;)) to make sure their needs are being met.
However, if you answered “yes”, let me tell you this… you WILL burn out. While I’m sure there are those rare “super moms” out there, you know the ones who are able to give every breath and waking moment to their children and yet still look polished, have dinner on the table, have a spotless home, consider all their relationship, career and life needs met and still have a smile on their face, I must say… I have yet to meet one. And trust me, I couldn’t be more fortunate to know some of the world’s best moms.
The truth is, we can try to do it all. We can try to be that mythical “super mom” until we reach that final straw and we burn out. And as ironic as it may be, it is usually the smallest thing that puts us over the edge. I once had a complete meltdown because the tab on the diaper I was changing broke. Of course it had nothing to do with the tab, but I had reached my boiling point. And once we do burn out and hit that metaphorical boiling point, even the “best” moms become useless to their children.
This is why we not only want “me time”, but we NEED “me time”.
Now, you might be thinking that I’ve so far stated the obvious. What mom, who is being truthful with themselves, would deny the need for “me time”. However, the question is how do we find the “me time” when we need 30+ hours in a 24 hour day?
Now, let me start with a very clear disclaimer. I do NOT have all the answers and am by no means an expert on always finding the balance between “mom time” and “me time”. Perhaps you picked up on my lack of expertise when I told you about my diaper tab meltdown; but just in case, let me send the message home. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have my occasional crying fit while trying to juggle all that comes with being a mom. I wouldn’t be telling you the truth if I told you I hadn’t become the woman and wife I (again) told myself I would never become when my husband (who worked a long, tiring day at work) walked in the door and I handed him both children and muttered “tag, you are it!”. And I’d be a total liar if I told you that there aren’t days that I don’t put on a stitch of makeup, change into anything other than sweats, have given the slightest thought about dinner for the same evening and go to bed without so much as a shower. However, I will tell you that even though I may “fail” at having “me time” 75% of the time, that 25% of the time that I succeed is what makes ALL the difference!
Obtaining that 25% success rate was not something that came natural to me. Learning how to implement “me time” has taken years, trials (and many errors), open discussions, planning, and most of all… creativity.
HOW TO OBTAIN YOUR “ME TIME”
Coming to terms with not being “super mom”
Isn’t it often said that the first step in fixing any problem is first identifying that you have one? I know this was the case for me. As soon as I let me guard down and told myself that I couldn’t be a “super mom”, (and heck I didn’t want to be) things got a lot easier. Taking that burden of having to do it all off my shoulders was a HUGE relief. Telling myself that I am not my best self, and dare I say even “unhappy” going on like I was, is what needed to come first.
Identifying what will give you the most bang for your buck
The reality remains, you need to (and want to) still be the mom your children deserve. With that said, you can’t run off every other day for endless spa treatments and social outings with friends. So, you need to identify what will bring you the most happiness in sometimes the smallest possible windows. For some this may be crafting or shopping, for others getting a massage or taking a bubble bath. Others yet may find the greatest joy going out with friends or hitting the gym. Whatever your happiness may be, identify it.
Make a list of ideal “me time” activities
“Me time” isn’t always planned. Sometimes “my time” can come out of nowhere like when your significant other unexpectedly gets home from work early (score!). And sometimes “me time” is brief. Perhaps grandma and grandpa swing by to visit with the kiddos for 30 minutes (score!). Knowing that “me time” isn’t always planned and lengthy, it is important to have a go-to list either mentally or written out. This list should include short tasks that fill up your happiness tank even if only for 20 minutes (i.e. think a bubble bath, giving yourself a manicure, getting in a quick run, etc.).
Having an open and honest conversation
I am blessed with a wonderful husband who works hard every day and yet still manages to come home with a smile on his face. However, as wonderful as he is, he can’t read my mind. In the beginning of motherhood I found myself wanting him to identify when I needed “me time”. However, the truth is I was being completely selfish. He too is overwhelmed with responsibilities and his own desire for “me time”. How could I expect him to identify, what I for a long time couldn’t even identify in myself?
I am fortunate to work both outside and inside the home. I work part-time as an occupational therapist and photographer (outside the home) and work part-time at home as a stay-at-home mom (who am I kidding, I’ve never met a part-time mom, we are all full-time moms!) and blogger. And while there are definite pros and cons to both working outside and inside the home, I will say that for me personally, I find myself needing “me time” all the more when I am home all day alone with my kiddos. I need those two minutes to decompress without my toddler pulling on my leg or my baby crying to be nursed.
As soon as I shared with my husband exactly how I was feeling and how I needed some “me time”, I was floored just how receptive he was. While life happens and his work schedule more times than not doesn’t allow for the “me time” of my dreams, he is far more understanding and eager to help me obtain my “me time” now that I have shared with him my needs.
Sharing “Me Time”
Just as I need my “me time”, I 100% know and value that my husband does as well. While he may not be required to take on all the same roles as I do as a mother, he definitely has his own set as a father. Being open and honest with him about my needs, allowed for him to do the same. Not only did he feel instant relief with increased “me time” but he was that much more understanding of my need when he could experience it himself.
Nothing like a good weekend to fill “me time” voids. In our household reciprocal “me time” often looks like this: my husband is with the kids while I get in a quick shopping trip. I return home and am with the kids while he in turn gets in his workout. It is all about finding the balance!
Understanding that a little goes a long way
As mentioned above, sometimes you only get the smallest bit of “me time”. However, you will be surprised how much a little can go a long way. Very quickly I discovered that I didn’t need an entire day to feel rejuvenated. Sometimes all it took was a 15 minute bath to decompress, change my mood and start anew.
Being open to the need to restructure
We all know life happens and children are often anything but predictable. While one day they may spend 100% of their time at home, the next day they may be involved in every activity under the sun, requiring you to run them this way and that way, and everywhere in between. One day your significant other may get home early from work, and the next he/she may be off on a business trip.
I’ll never forget how I felt that I had a good handle on “me time” with my toddler until my second baby arrived. All of a sudden, everything that was working in the world of “me time” was now a fantasy. Once again, I had to restructure how my “me time” would play out.
Knowing your worth
This last tip is perhaps the most important. You NEED to make yourself a priority and you NEED to know that you are worthy of having “me time”. As a mom, you can sacrifice it all, without sacrificing it ALL. Not only will your significant other, your children, your coworkers, extended family and friends, enjoy being around you more after you’ve had “me time”, but you will enjoy yourself that much more after “me time” as well.
Now get out there and get your “me time”! Always remember, motherhood is definitely a marathon and not a sprint. Make sure you are fueling up along the way!
What does your “me time” look like? Comment below! I’d love to hear.