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4 Reasons You Need “Me Time” & What to Do When You Can’t Take It

by Claire Caprioli

You know that frustrating, tightening feeling in your chest when you feel like all you
want is a little stinkin’ time alone? You know, like, to poop? Welcome to motherhood! Here are 4 reasons why you need “me time”:

1. You are human. You’re not a machine, and guess what? Even vending machines, regularly handing out chocolate bars, sodas, and chips need replenishment. They run out, too. You simply cannot give what you don’t have.

2. Recognizing your humanity helps you to be a better mother. If you don’t take a little time for yourself, resentment quietly builds. No child deserves a resentful mother, so ask for help. Do it! No mother should constantly go it alone, and all mothers understand this. If you can’t rely on other family members, then your neighborhood, community center, church, and library all have other moms. They may already have free or cheap programs or support groups to help. Ask.

3. “Me time” teaches your children that you’re human. It teaches them compassion and understanding, especially when you take a moment to explain it to them. Go ahead, use my vending machine analogy (it made sense to you, didn’t it?) You need to give yourself love so that you have more love to hand out. They may give you a hard time at first, but you are teaching a larger lesson.

4. It teaches children that they, too, need “me time.” It teaches them that self-love is important, worthwhile, and makes them and those around them happier.

Great, I understand WHY I need time to myself, but what if I still can’t take it?

1. You are strong. Your ancestors did not know the term “me time”, so draw on their strength. Think about the women on the Oregon Trail. They often had no choice in the decision to pack up and move, and may have been pregnant while toting several young children along. There was dysentery. There was cholera. They may have buried several children and even their husband (whose brilliant idea it was to leave home) along the way only to arrive in a strange place completely destitute. They did what they had to do. Note: the incredible collective strength of women can be empowering to draw on in moments of stress, but is not advisable long term. Yes, they were strong (so are you), but nothing says they were happy. With longer life spans these days and greater knowledge of the importance of mental health, know that the active support of even one other adult in your life can do wonders.

2. Count even the smallest blessings. Think of the woman in a war-torn third world country who knows it’s safer to wash her infant in her own urine than to travel 2 miles for water that may not be safe to drink even if she does make it back unharmed. If you are providing your children with safe water to drink, it’s a blessing. The more you practice counting the small things in life, the easier it becomes to find and appreciate them.

3. Smile. The more you fret over lack of time, the worse you feel. Your kids will sense that. Studies show that the act of smiling—yes, forcing a smile—actually can lead to an improvement in mood. Trust that a genuine smile will follow.

4. Change your idea of “me time”. It’s nice to fantasize about a few hours or even a day (!) alone doing what makes you relaxed and happy, but recognizing those smaller moments makes a difference. Remember when you dropped the kids off at school and were belting out your favorite tunes at the top of your lungs as you peeled out of the school parking lot? Me time! Remember when you flipped through a magazine for 15 minutes while waiting for the pediatrician who said your 6-year-old has a virus so just squirt saline up her nose (which is like bathing a feral cat?) Me time!

If you can get some time to yourself, by all means, take it. And when there is no time in sight, and that happens to us all, then draw on your strength and count your
blessings. It really can push you past the sleepless nights and lice-ridden kids. Besides, if you just spent 2 uninterrupted minutes reading this article, congratulations! You just had “me time”! You go, girl.