Tuesday, August 10, 2010

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The e-newsletter for the woman who does it all

Issue #58


Me time

Periodically, I am struck by the number of clients that come into my office wanting to discuss the same issue. This past month there has definitely been a repeating theme. And the issue? “Me time.”

Here’s what I have been hearing:

1. You want “me time” – but you feel guilty when you take it.

2. You want “me time” – but t you often spend it with your kids instead.

3. Your spouse wants “me time” – and takes it! And you resent him/her for doing that since you don’t get any “me time” – even though you aren’t taking “me time” anyway. (See items #1 and 2 above!)

Let’s address each of these in turn, but in reverse order. If you are not taking time for yourself but your spouse is taking time for himself, can you begin to see it is an example of your spouse taking care of himself? Rather than creating resentment, it could perhaps engender a wish to emulate him.

Now let’s look at the second point: choosing to spend your free time with your kids. It may be that, if you spend your time wisely – and enjoyably – with your kids, it can be a kind of “me” time. If the time with your kids nurtures you, and is fulfilling, that can be “me” time. For me, the hours spent caring for kids, making them snacks, and picking up after them do not feel like anything but chores. But the hours spent going to the pool with them, or going for a bike ride, or going blueberry-picking are enjoyable for me. So sometimes that family time is actually “me time.” Allow yourself to have fun with your family when you are choosing to spend time together: spend an afternoon not correcting anyone, or reminding your child to say please and thank you, or that there is a better way to accomplish a task. Just go and enjoy yourself and your kids.

But there is an underlying issue in this topic that is worth exploring. It’s important to ask yourself why you are spending that “me” time on the kids (either with them, or on your own but still doing errands for them). Is it because you really want to, or because you feel you should be – in order to be a “good” parent? This is where the “guilt” comes in that I mentioned at the top of the list. Most of the recent data on time use that I have seen shows that we spend more time with our children than previous generations of parents did with theirs, not less, despite the advent of more women working outside the home. In fact, the New York Times reported that “married and single parents spent more time teaching, playing with and caring for their children than parents did 40 years ago.” Maybe it’s time to redefine your idea of what is required to be a good parent.

Were your parents good parents? Did they spend only quality time with you, and lots of it? Or did they let you experience life with kids your own age and encourage you to be able to enjoy yourself with or without them? Instead of striving to be the perfect parent, maybe it would be better to be a “perfectly good” parent. Does being a good parent mean never spending time on you? Do you feel that the only legitimate use of your time is to do something for others?

Perhaps we have become so accustomed to the role of caregiver, to addressing the needs of our family, that we don’t even know what to do with that “me” time. Focusing on yourself might initially feel uncomfortable if you have lost touch with what you like to do for yourself. You might be tempted to fall back into your more accustomed routine of spending the time with – or for – someone else. But that “me” time is important. If it weren’t, I wouldn’t be hearing so many people struggling with it.

What will you do with some time to yourself, once you have let go of the guilt and the resentment that have built up around taking that time? I bet you have a long list. If you don’t, then read “What’s in it for you?” to get you started. If you need some help taking some time for yourself, then give me a call at 301-523-8882 or send me an email at beth@mosaiclife.net so we can figure that out together.


1 comment:

Serena said...

Ah, you must have been reading my mind long distance!