Why mothers need to stop apologising for needing some ‘me time’

It’s one of the most-oft recited lines in every new mother’s repertoire: I never get anymore me time.  Heck, I know if I don’t expressly say it I’m at least thinking it around 5000,0000 times a day.

When mums talk me time they’re not talking about anything spectacular (although an all-expenses paid trip to Paris would be humbly accepted thankyouverymuch), it usually comprises of a ten minute uninterrupted shower, a chance to read a book they’ve been wanting to read or, at the very least,  sitting on the toilet without fearing that at any moment a small human will come barraging in (or banging on the door). It’s the little things, y’know?

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There I was enjoying a book when I looked down and saw this (gorgeous) little face poking through my legs.

 

On any given day, no matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to square off that sacred me time. Even after all the dishes are cleaned and the washing has been folded away there is always something else to do. And so the day drags on in this kind of never-ending circle-jerk.

But there is one part of the day that I’ve been managing to reserve just for me.

About half an hour after my husband and I have put G to sleep (we co-sleep, which we LOVE) I slowly and carefully roll out of bed and tip-toe into the living room. It’s dark and quiet and empty. It is my magic time.

I don’t really do much. Some nights I just sit at the edge of our sofa and look out over the balcony. Other nights I’ll hop on to the computer and work on a new post or just read random trashy articles. While other nights I’ll just lay down on the sofa and think about the day; about my new life as a mother, about this new woman I have become.

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Ahh yes! Who could forget this cracking video of a Professor being interviewed by the BBC only to be ambushed by his children.

 

The silence and solitude act as a kind of gentle purging  after a long day of mothering. I guess you might call it meditation without the controlled breathing and chanting.

It is a time in which I can press pause on the world around me and regroup. Some mornings knowing that I have this sacred time waiting to embrace me at the end of the day is enough to keep me going. It wasn’t always like this. My God, for the first year (at least) the very idea of perhaps carving out me time seemed totally foreign and even a little selfish. (It’s not, of course).

The funny thing I’ve noticed is that everyone has their own special me time – my husband enjoys his on the bus ride on the way to work in the morning. During my pre-mum days I’d have my me time while walking down to get my morning coffee. The only thing is I didn’t realise just how sacred it was.

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A coffee and a book is enough to totally recharge me.

 

A lot of mothers don’t like to talk about it for fear it makes them seem selfish. Being a mother is supposed me be tiring, right? But it’s also supposed to be redemptive and rejuvenating. As a mother you’re finally living out your ‘divine purpose’. You come second. If you don’t like it then perhaps you’re not really doing this whole mothering thing right. Right? Uh, wrong.

Regardless of what you believe when it comes to gender roles (I’m talking about traditionalists out there – much like my grandmother), me time for mothers is vital. Why? Well, I like  the analogy that you can’t serve from an empty bowl. If, as a mother, you are depleted mentally and emotionally what then do you have left to give to your children?

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This is how pretty much every trip to the toilet used to be BEFORE G started walking. Now she just saunters on in and hugs me until I’m, well… done.

 

I decided to throw the question out on Facebook and asked friends of mine who had children why they believed me time was so important for mothers:

Eva wrote: “So we don’t snap one day when one of our simple needs haven’t been met but everyone else in the family has been able to go to the toilet in peace or even eat lunch sitting down.”

Carolyn wrote: “Because we don’t have any? We end up losing our identity. We sacrifice our sleep, energy, time. And if we don’t fill that cup up again, we crack and that’s never pretty.”

Sarah-Jane wrote: “It is so important for everyone to have some alone time, whether it be a weekend, an hour or even a 10minute shower. I definitely need some quiet time where I cant hear my baby crying or the stupid rooster next door. It lets me reset and try to bring the emotions back under control.”

Nicole wrote: “Because it’s vital. My identity isn’t solely being the primary carer of a small human. Before I was a mother I was an individual with responsibilities and hobbies and interests. That all didn’t suddenly stop because I became a wife and then a mother.”

Bernie wrote:” Simply about brain space. And that physiological need to be able to sit back and enjoy the kids without having to be super mum.”

Lauren wrote: “An hour of not being touched (which I usually spend getting a massage which is a different type of touch to being climbed on etc haha) A chance to think without interruption (lots of me time actually study/work/life planning time).”

And Pip wrote simply and succinctly: “Sanity.”

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That said, however, we are incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to carve out that me time. There are many, many women who don’t even have a close support network that would allow them to step away and have some me time. (Hence why communities need to ensure new mothers are given appropriate support – but that’s a whole other post for another day).

For those of us who are lucky enough to have support that allows us to have that special me time, embrace it. It’s time for mothers to shift their thinking about me time view it as a necessity not just a thing that we’ll “get around to if we have time”.