Whenever I spend time with my girlfriends and mention "Me Time," there seems to be confusion about exactly what it entails. Though we know that we must take care of ourselves to be better mothers, we always seem to get sidetracked. There's always something else to do and someone else's needs to fulfill. What we need to realize is that self-care is a necessity, and giving yourself "Me Time" will allow you to be a more present parent.
My affair with "Me Time" began 14 years ago when, at six months pregnant, I promised my mother to always make time to date myself. What began as an obligation to her, however, soon became a lifestyle for me. I started dating myself as a mother of one and now, as the mother of a 14-, 11- and 7-year-old, I continue to date myself every single week. The journey has definitely been a work in progress.
In my early days of motherhood, I remember thinking that "Me Time" meant that I had to go somewhere and do something like get a manicure or visit a day spa. Let's be honest: So many website commercialize it without providing mothers with the real solutions to make self-care a daily reality. There's so much more to "Me Time." While I love getting my nails done for some time alone, I learned that focusing on me isn't simply about getting away for an activity. Throughout the years as I worked on my PHD (Personal Healing Done) in "Me Time," I've discovered that when done correctly, time for myself should be a blended part of motherhood. The reality is that most of us experience time alone on an inconsistent basis and aren't able to explain how anyone can make "Me Time" a daily habit. We have to realize that this much-needed personal escape isn't something that's only done at 9:00 p.m. when the children are in bed or that I only have to visit on the weekends when I have the help of a sitter or spouse. The reality is that sometimes I need to replenish myself in the midst of motherhood. In those moments, when my children begin fighting with one another or if I locked myself out of the house with a baby in tow, I realized that I needed saving in those very moments when I wanted to scream and pull out my hair. Therefore, I couldn't wait until Saturday evening to meet my friends for dinner to refuel. It was then that I decided that I needed to something for myself whenever I do something for my children.
You may be thinking: "What can I do for me while I do something for someone else?" Now, I'm the first to admit that I was guilty of remembering to have everything for everyone else and forgetting to even think of what I might need in every moment. Seeking out the answer to this question, however, has allowed me to acknowledge that I also have needs and that when I meet those needs I'm a much better mother. I've learned to put myself at the top of the list and set out to find creative ways to meet those needs while still caring for my children. Now, I always look for opportunities to bring that book to read or pack my gym shoes. I even remember to pack healthy snacks for myself, just as I packed great nutritious meals for my children. I've also joined the Curves gym to complete the 30-minute circuit while my son attends fencing practice and started jumping rope on the soccer field while my children played. As I sat and waited for my children in the carpool line, I'd listen to a book on tape or bring my journal to write my thoughts in. Focusing on me has truly allowed me to give all of me to my family.
I spent the last year recording my daily self-care rituals and wrote my second book on "Me Time" entitled, Time for Mom-Me: 365 Daily Strategies for A Mother's Self-care. In my book, I share with moms the exact things that I have done for the last fourteen years to create lasting daily rituals to rebalance my life every day. None of my solutions and advice is airbrushed or untested but I'm happy to say that these solutions are what this mom of three has applied every day to enjoy this wonderful and crazy journey of motherhood.
Avoid getting caught up in motherhood and forgetting about yourself by remembering to always keep the following "Me Time" tips in mind:
- Me Time isn't selfish but it does allow you to share your whole self with those you love. If you don't allow time to rest and refuel then what you give your family isn't your personal best.
- When you are happier you are a better parent.
- Self-care is an important part of motherhood
- Your children benefit directly from your personal growth. Growing your life allows you to share more of you with your children.
- When reading advice from "me time" experts ask yourself are they living out the strategies that they are teaching or are they performing a role or performance?