How can I cope without ME TIME?
I constantly hear moms complaining that they don’t get away enough, they don’t have time off from their kids, or they can’t afford to go out with the girls, so they are miserable and feel like a horrible wife and parent.
I want to extend some encouragement to these moms who are at their wits end and just can’t fathom how they will cope another day without that precious “me time” that our culture pushes so strongly.
Me Time is Over Rated
I have been homeschooling for quite a few years now. I also work from home, multiple jobs, so I am a pretty busy lady. I have never had family near by that could watch our kids often and paying a sitter is too extravagant an expense for this modest little family to afford. Needless to say, I do not have me time. At least not in the modern way.
I very, very rarely spend time completely away from my children. And I’m OKAY with that.
How am I not pulling my hair out?
Oh, there are moments when I want to, as any mom can tell you, but I don’t feel like I’m missing something or unable to be at my best simply because I’m stuck with my kids day in and day out.
How to Recharge When You Can’t Leave Your Kids
For many thousands of years mothers took care of their children without getting away from them, nor were they expected to. One could argue they had lots of family, whole villages, in fact, to help them. Maybe so, but they also had to work to survive from sun up to sundown (hardly comparable to a pedicure) and the kids were probably nearby, perhaps involved in what the women were doing, just with more eyes on them, and many more kids around. I’m no history expert, so I’ll move on.
There are many moments in the day you can recharge if you look for them.
Find the quiet moments.
- Sit and read a book with or without your child. Enjoy the cuddles and think on how much you will miss them in a few years when they’ve grown too big for your lap.
- Step outside and breathe in the fresh air. Soak in a minute or five of sunshine if your kids are playing happily for a few minutes on their own. Listen to the birds and the wind in the trees or whatever peaceful sounds you can find around you.
- If you can all get outside, go for a walk or a park date with friends. You can chat and the kids can play with their friends and not need your full attention while there. It’s a win-win! When my kids ask me to come play at those times I tell them, “you can go play with your friends and I am visiting with my friends today”.
- At home, plan some quiet time each day. Get your kids in the habit of quiet play time for an hour or half hour, if they no longer nap, such as reading time, Lego building, playdoh time, depending on ages and abilities. Put on gentle music and close your eyes to do nothing but listen to the notes while you breathe deeply and calm your anxieties. Just Be in that moment for as long as you can before you are back at that to-do list.
- While you make dinner, if you can keep the kids out of the kitchen once in a while, relax your shoulders, turn on some tunes, and recognize that you have a few uninterrupted minutes. Though you may be busy cooking, learn to enjoy it, turn on music or hum a tune, and let the worries of the day go during that time. Focus only on your cooking and how grateful you are to have food and family to cook for. Think of little things that you love about each person in your family or funny things the kids did or said that day.
- Lock the bathroom door when you’re in there and take an extra minute to come out.
- Lay with your kids for a at least a few minutes each night and let them talk a bit. It doesn’t have to be long and is such a great time to connect and for both of you to let the cares of the day go and just cuddle. Both can feel secure, loved, and relaxed before trying to get to sleep.
Bedtime Cuddles are the Best
When they were really small, I would lay with my kids till they fell asleep, but now they will stay up all night talking. So, I now tell my kids, “I will lay with you for 10 minutes then I need to go spend time with daddy” or “I need to go write”, as I often do at night. Sometimes I stay a bit longer, it’s such a good way to connect with each other without distraction. Truly listen to what your child wants to discuss at bedtime. Often it’s the only time they’ll really open up. If they feel safe to do this now and not put off, they will feel safe to come to you as teenagers, when their worries will be much deeper. Learn about all the benefits of Snuggle Time in my post The Gentle Secret to Keeping the Kids in Bed.
I have 2 kids so I switch off who I lay with first, or sometimes it’s whoever is in bed first. I’m honest about what I will be doing once I get up so they have less interest in coming out of their rooms to find out why I’m not in bed. “I’m going to watch a movie with Daddy and you need to stay in your bed. It’s important Mom & Dad have alone time together, too, so we can be a happy family.” They are now used to this and no longer whine or argue when I get up. At first they did, but I would then let them know that the next night I would lay down for less time, or not at all if they were really carrying on. This is important to me, because after a full day with kids, I am ready to have the evening for myself. The kids learn that this is important to have happy parents, as well, and hopefully will lead to strong marriages of their own someday; Mommy-Daddy time or just Mommy Time is important in the evening.
Recognize and Cherish Your Moments
There truly are so many moments in the day that you can take a breathe, quiet your mind, calm your thoughts and feel recharged to continue on. If you can get away completely to have some true time off from kids, that’s great, but if it’s just not possible due to work schedules, finances, health, or whatever reason, don’t feel like this is a necessity of life. It’s a luxury some can afford.
You can have a happy family with so much togetherness.
Our culture makes us feel like we can’t possibly be good parents without plenty of time away and modern parents believe it. With the best intentions they’ll tell you how you need to get out, for your own health! It’s imperative! I find the more time I spend with my children, the more I cherish them and would not want to miss more moments than I have to. It really does go so very fast. In just a few years, I will have more “me time” than I ever wanted and I will miss the noise, the mess, the chaos, the unexpected moments of laughter and conversation, those times where you just have to shake your head in disbelief; the absolute joy of life with little kids.