I recently read an article on how just 5 minutes of intentional mommy “me time” can rejuvenate and refresh your day. Most of the time, I fervently agree. “Yes! I just need some time to myself! Please, can somebody give it to me?” And the break is wonderful when it comes.
We all get a little nutty sometimes after a full day with the kids. Nap time is my sanity. When my kids skip it for whatever reason, I think that I will certainly pull my hair out and rock in the corner a bit by 6 P.M. (If I even make it that far.) I look forward to my regular breaks, but I particularly enjoy some silence and a good cup of tea in the afternoon.
In fact, I tend to go to desperate measures to find that time to myself. For example, my new pastime is hiding in the bathroom for 15 minutes when my hubby gets home to eat chocolate and read. (Where else can you lock the door behind you without coming up with an excuse?)
But I’m going to say something unpopular: I’m not sure that craving for and clinging to mommy “me time” with white knuckles is really all that healthy or helpful.
Why in the world would I say a thing like that? (Stick with me here.)
Well, sometimes it seems that the more “me time” I have, the less I want to be around my kids. The more I have time to myself, the more I want it, and the more I resent the constant duties that come with being a mother.
It seems that the necessity of “me time” can breed selfishness. I’m not saying it does for everyone- but it does for me. I become irritable when I don’t have that time. Sometimes I get so frustrated when nap is skipped that I feel my entire day has gone to waste. I become terribly grumpy and snappy on days when i feel like I’m just running in circles with the kids all day long. No, it’s not a pretty thing when I miss my quiet time.
Why can’t I just sit and relax? Why can’t I lounge over tea with friends in the evening while somebody else puts my kids to bed? I can’t even sleep a solid eight hours without someone needing me!
And before I know it, resentment takes root in my heart, bearing bitter fruit that is poison to the soul.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think that having time to yourself is wrong at all, and I don’t think it’s wrong to enjoy it. Moms DO need breaks, and alone time can bring much needed restoration for the weary parent. My point is not to give up the breaks just so you can be a martyr.
My point is that it can be less than helpful to get caught up in wishing for the time off. When “me time” becomes the end-all of our contentment and happiness, or when we run from parenting in order to get a break, something is amiss.
I once read a book called Loving the Little Years*, in which the author makes a novel suggestion: Rachel Jonkovic urges her readers to stop allowing themselves to indulge in complaints. (This book is an amazing attitude-booster for any mother with young children in tow, by the way.) When you frequently bemoan the fact that you are always busy and always exhausted, you make it more difficult to deal with those challenges in a positive manner.
I would add this to Jonkovic’s suggestion: Stop look for that “me time” for which we all so frantically pine.
It seems counter intuitive, but I am truly coming to believe that the less I look for time to myself, the more I enjoy being with and caring for my children. We mustn’t allow “me time” to rob us of the joys of motherhood.
The less we yearn for an easier way, the easier it becomes to do the hard thing.
This is hard for me- I have to preach this idea to myself. I’m often terrified of the demands of motherhood, and heaven knows I treasure those quiet moments. But in those hopeful moments, when by the grace of God I am able to (reluctantly) pry my grasping hands from my “me time,” I become less fearful of mothering. Less selfish.
More at peace with “together time.”
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