Why Parents Need To Make Time For Me-Time
Lauren Marks-Clee, mama-in-chief of The Parenting Chapter explains why me-time as a parent is so important and why GUILT is just a grown-up idiot looking for trouble!
Since having a child, why is making yourself a priority so difficult? Why do we as parents not value me-time as much as we did pre-child?
After giving birth to my son, I struggled physically and mentally, and felt like a shadow of my former self at times. My whole world was dedicated to him. Even when I went back to work, I was constantly thinking and worrying about him. My hair kept on falling out. My gastro health issues reappeared. But I had the mentality: Must. Keep. Going.
Let's compare the stressful factors of my life pre-child to now: having loads on at work (no change there), a boss always wanting my attention (just like a toddler), pressure to do well (sounds very familiar as a parent) and feeling like I didn’t have five minutes to myself (even the toilet is a place to be shared these days). My old life just isn’t the same as what I deal with now. But hold on, maybe it is? I get that we can’t just disappear off for the weekend in a moment’s notice. And perhaps money is a bit tight, so maybe a full-blown spa break is off the cards, but what about booking a massage, or going for a walk, listening to music, or simply reading a book? Me-time comes in so many different forms. So before I carry on, I want you to remember this statement:
“Just because you're a parent, doesn't mean you have to put yourself at the bottom of the pile. End of story.”
Now I know the word guilt is lurking around here like a red angry spot starting to make itself visible on your chin, so I want to take a look at it. Imagine it as a person and mock it for what it is – something we can choose to control and dismiss.
Guilt is a:
G - grown
U - up
I - idiot
L – looking (for)
T – trouble
I’m not sure about you, but I dismiss most idiots as idiots and certainly don’t let them control my mind-set or thinking. So let’s ignore the grown-up idiot, who is simply a troublemaker when it comes to parenting.
Back to me-time, here are my top five reasons why it is so important as a parent.
- Confidence: Me-time allows you to build confidence back up again. Having a child does a bit of damage to your confidence and I’m blaming this on society and the pressures of parenting. Get back into something that made you feel like you – something you felt you were good at, enjoyed and made you feel confident.
- Freedom: We all need to feel free now and then. Having children, can feel like we’re on a never-ending winding road. Sometimes you need to just park the car, get out and have some time to clear your mind and recalibrate.
- Feeling your age: I’m 31 this month and I feel a lot older. Stupidly I used to attach the feeling of being young to having lots of (fair-weather) friends and going out drinking all the time. My image of being young was attached to a behaviour, rather than how I felt inside. I’m not suggesting you should spend your me-time getting blind drunk (p.s. if you do, book the children in with your partner/babysitter for a night and the following day). Just do something that makes you feel your age and maybe even a little younger.
- Your relationship with your partner: This will change once you have children. I remember how badly I took to the broken sleep that comes with having a newborn and the fact my husband was able to sleep, while I breastfed for what felt like the 100th time in the dead of the night. I called 3am the divorce hour. It was the time when I would feel the most anger towards my husband, because he didn’t have boobs. I laugh about it now, but at the time it was a shock, as we had a pretty good relationship pre-kids and suddenly he angered me to my core. I would moan a lot (OK not a new thing) and generally get frustrated with him. Little did I know he was also struggling. So me-time – either apart to instil a bit of calm and patience in you towards your partner, or together, which you will value so much more – is so worth it for the sake of your relationship.
- Your relationship with your children: If like me you have to reach crisis point before changing something, the crisis point for needing me-time is when you start to resent your child a little because you feel like you’re missing out on things. It happens and it’s ok to feel like this, I promise. And all you need to do is find some time for yourself and then you will value the time spent with your children.
So this is a post which should, by the time you get to this point, make you realise there is a way to having me time – perhaps just reading a blog post online is me-time for you. Just like the rest of parenting, you need to give yourself permission to have it and forget the grown-up idiot looking for trouble (GUILT) because he will always be skulking around somewhere like a bad smell.