Friday, August 27, 2010

Time for a break

Need a little respite from the nappies or screaming kids? Time to schedule some ‘me-time’
A good friend of mine has a daily ritual of leaving her two children with her husband early in the morning and heading down to her local McDonald’s for a coffee and to read the paper before heading back home. 
This is her “me-time” and she strongly believes that this time out from her role as wife, mother and freelance writer, is essential to keeping her happy.
“I thought I wouldn’t manage it after my second child was born, but now I deserve it more than ever,” she says.
“I’m back on ‘night shift’ mothering, as well as day shift, my husband has slept like a baby whilst I’ve been up and down out of bed like a yoyo – I have earned my 45 minutes of me time!
“I’d prefer a real coffee shop, but Maccas is the only one open at the time I sneak out.”
“Me-time” is a term that probably didn’t exist when our mothers were raising us in a time when getting married and having children was expected.
Popping out for a coffee with a friend without the children was unheard of back then, but is very common among today’s mothers.
Some women believe “me-time” is essential to stay sane among the endless laundry, dirty nappies, toddler tantrums, and so on.
While other mums actually struggle with “me-time” as they feel guilty or worry about their children when they’re not with them.Strangely, fathers never feel this guilt and manage to schedule their “me-time” on a regular basis.
How many dads out there have no problem enjoying Friday night football, weekend golf or fishing with mates?
It’s time for mothers to follow my friend’s example, and just do it.

Magazines, blogs, websites and television programs have plenty of stories on balancing work and family life, and one of the main points they raise is this “me-time”.
Time out from the kids gives you a chance to refresh and re-energise.
It allows you to go back to being completely self-absorbed for a moment, remembering what life was like before children.
In fact it’s possible that this time alone allows you to remember who you are, because sometimes you just feel like each day is the same routine of feeding the children, taking the children to school or playgroup, changing dirty nappies, breastfeeding, endless washing, shopping and then spending the night rocking the baby to sleep.
The days and nights blur into one long period of time and you wonder “where did my life go?”
When you decide to have children, you’re prepared to give up “me-time” because you’ve now got children who depend upon you 24 hours a day.
But if you put everyone else’s needs before your own, you will eventually burn out with exhaustion and become a shadow of your former self.
So, if you’re feeling this way, it’s time to divide your life into work time, family time, partner time and time for yourself.
Sometimes work time can be considered “me-time” because you’re away from your family and doing something you love.
Sometimes you might get the chance to go out to dinner with your husband and leave the children with a babysitter and this could be considered both “me-time” and partner time.
If you have a passion you want to pursue, then this will not only allow you “me-time” but it will also give you a more fulfilling life.
If you’re doing something you love, you go back to your children in a much happier frame of mind.
And you will appreciate them more when you’re together.
I have another friend who attends a weekly painting class while her husband cares for the children, and in turn, he goes to karate on a different night of the week.
They each get time to pursue activities they enjoy and get their “me-time”.
Just how much “me-time” you need will depend on you.
An hour at the gym, half an hour on the patio with a good book, 15 minutes in a hot bath or a daily walk around the block, every minute counts!
I even consider driving the car from A to B with the kids asleep in the back as “me-time” because of the silence. Quiet time with your own thoughts instead of the Playschool sing-along CD and endless questions from a four-year-old is bliss!
I turn feral if I don’t get “me-time”, and in turn, my children go feral, and my husband wishes he’d stayed at work.
Taking time out doesn’t mean you are selfish, it means you are sensible, and that can only make you a better parent overall.


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