Monday, January 21, 2008

"Me" time

I don't know about you, but I can really identify myself with this Baby Blues cartoon.

A few months ago, I noticed people would end up at my blog because they typed "mom needs to get away" (and variations) in a search engine. I could imagine their disappointment when they saw my post was really a pitch for them to get a physical. Even though I rambled about why I didn't get out much myself, I really didn't address the importance of "me" time.

I think that some moms feel guilty if they desire some time away from their kids. Initially, the thought of "me" time made me cringe. It just seemed that if I called it "me" time, then I was really thinking of my own interests, not my family's. It just didn't sit right. You've probably heard the saying, "if momma ain't happy, nobody's happy". This isn't because momma will make your life miserable if you don't let her get her way, it is because it is in everyone's best interest if mom takes some time for renewal and refreshment.

Even though I had come to that understanding, there was still something in me that believed that I was the one that held everything together. After all, it would throw off my child's routine, he/she would be miserable without me, and I would fall behind on the other things I needed to get done. If I took time off, then chaos was the sure result. My family would simply not survive! Although the presence of a mother is very important in the life of a child, it is not crucial to their survival. A few hours away will rarely scar them for life.

It is important to get support from family and friends. Although we think we could be burdening a friend if they watched our kids, it is often a treat for them to help out. Usually, they don't encounter the same challenges with our kids that we do. Once a friend's oldest son had a recital and it would cut into their 3-year-old's bedtime. They asked me if I could watch him. Their biggest concern was having someone else put him to bed, because they had always been the ones to do it. But I followed the routine and he went right to sleep. On the other hand, there was a time we put our kids to bed then had our next door neighbor come over while we went out. Our kids didn't even know we were gone. About 5 minutes later, my 2-year-old started crying out that his lion light needed new batteries. Our friend wasn't able to replace the batteries, but she was able to settle him down pretty quickly. She also thought our infant was familiar with the Andy Griffith Show theme because he settled down right away when she started humming that tune. Although a major crisis could happen while you're away, it usually doesn't.

Now the reality is that you can't always get away when you really want or need to. That's life. When my kids were sick all last year, it wasn't easy to ask someone to watch them so I could have some down time. After all, I didn't want to pass the misery on to them (or their kids) by giving them our germs. But what I have noticed is that when I have some "me" time planned*, it is much easier to endure those moments when I wish I could bury my head in the sand. With a planned activity, I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It is also easier to make accomodations for the other things I need to get done (like make dinner arrangements for the rest of the family). Even if something comes up and I can't do what I have planned, there will always be next time. Most of all, I am more satisfied with the way I spend my time when I'm not running away from a situation.

So there is really nothing to worry or feel guilty about when it comes to setting some "me" time apart. Moms (and dads too) need it. When we deny ourselves of that, we are really denying the very ones we love.

*do not be decieved, time management is NOT my strength. But planning makes life so much easier.

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