“Find some time for yourself.” “Take a Mommy Time-Out.” “You deserve some me-time.” No matter how it’s said, when a mother hears it, taking time all to herself rings of pure fiction.
Of course, what mother wouldn’t agree to getting an hour-long massage, going to a movie with a friend or just taking a long, uninterrupted bath? The thought is nice, really nice, but it is fleeting and as you might expect, interrupted by someone tapping on her leg or shoulder asking for time, money, attention or all of the above.
So, filled with guilt, anxiety and, dare I say, embarrassment at the thought of being so self-concerned, overwhelmed moms everywhere once again put themselves on the back-burner and deny themselves yet another opportunity to recharge, re-center and rediscover themselves.
Of course, this mindset isn’t anything overt. Rather, it’s a quiet, general acceptance – based on a series of Mother Myths – that moms, in spite of themselves, should always look and be tired, stressed, harried, and always too busy to take care of themselves. Otherwise, well, they’re just not doing their jobs as moms.
In other words, it isn’t for lack of desire of mom to take care of herself that’s keeping her from taking a Mommy Time-Out. It’s the million and one reasons that appear out of nowhere that are the ultimate villains.
And they aren’t really reasons, as that implies “reasoning” and rational deduction.
Which is why we call these reasons, ‘Mother Myths’, because in our estimation they are based in legend; a legend handed down through the generations and supported by societal thinking. They are an illusion that has been given substance, but once looked at closely, disperse into the smokescreens they are.
Which is what we are going to do here today. We are going to pull back the curtain and take a closer look at three of these Mother Myths (there are more, believe me!) that are keeping moms from finding time for themselves. See if any (or all) of them ring true for you.
Myth #1: More Important Than You
There is always something more important that has to be done. Something else you should spend your money on. Everything is more important than you.
This is the biggest Myth that needs unraveling, because if you don’t realize the impact your mental, physical and spiritual states have on your family, you will never even bother addressing the other myriad of Mother Myths that are out there.
By buying into this first Myth, you go into motherhood with this mantle of being Super Mom. You believe that as Super Mom, you should be everything to everyone all the time, always putting your needs last. But what ends up happening is that Super Mom crashes because, after all, she is only human.
And when mom crashes, everyone suffers.
That crash can be anything from going ballistic over spilled milk, to withdrawal and depression, to such total exhaustion and unclear thinking that you make a mistake that you can’t take back.
Everyone suffers because, let’s face it, you are the hub of your family, whether you want to be or not. Everyone and everything does revolve around you: your children, your spouse or partner, your pets, your household, your career…the list goes on.
So if there is anyone that should be put first in the, “I must have my needs met” department, it is YOU.
Which is where having a consistent Mommy Time-Out comes into play. Taking regular me-time is vital to combat what we consider a highly underrated epidemic of overwhelmed parenting that directly affects the well-being of every member of the family.
So the next time this thought creeps into your head – that there are more important things that need to be taken care of before you – stop and change that thinking right away. Ironically, by putting yourself first, you are putting your family first. Yes, you get the shiny new painted toes, or delicious scoop of ice cream, but when you return home refreshed, present and balanced, who also wins in the end?
Myth #2: All Time Is Quality Time
You are robbing your children of quality time with you if you take a Time-Out.
This Myth is fueled by something that comes far too naturally to mothers – guilt.
Spending quality time with your children is probably one of the most important things you can do for and with them. It is an opportunity for them to get the tools to grow into well-rounded, socialized adults. It’s a chance for you to share all of your wisdom with them, tell them your stories, teach them lessons wrapped in fun, and an excellent occasion to get to know each other.
So why would you take what little time you have in your schedule and spend it on yourself and not them? Goodness knows you don’t want to be that absentee parent who has someone else raise her children while she’s out getting a manicure or sunning herself poolside. Neither do you want to miss any of those moments of their childhood, and all the possibilities that go with them.
So you dig in your tired, overworked, worn down heels and you give them some “quality” time.
Yet how is it “quality” when you are too tired to throw the ball or splash in the mud? What benefits do your children get when you don’t hear their fabulously made-up stories or teen angst because you are so burned out and short-tempered that all you tell them is to “be quiet!”
How are you building a strong relationship with your children when you lack the focus and patience to sit for hours (literally) playing their games and getting to know them better?
The time with your children is “quality” when that time revolves exclusively around them and what they are saying and doing. It’s quality when you are present and aware. Quality time with your children requires energy, focus and patience. And guess what? You’ll have none of that if you don’t take care of yourself first.
Taking time for yourself allows you to regain all of these things and more. That’s why having a Mommy Time-Out is so vital not only for your health and well-being, but that of your children as well.
Myth #3: Can’t Spare A Square
If you’re a Seinfeld fan, you may recognize Elaine’s cry for help in the bathroom stall with no toilet paper and the woman next to her refusing to share what she had, claiming “I can’t spare a square!” Needless to say, Elaine spent the rest of the episode wanting to know who this woman was.
Do you feel like that woman sometimes? Yet another person is tugging on your shirt asking you if you could spare some time for them. Yet unlike this woman, you say, “Okay” and before you know it you have given away all of your “squares” until you have none left for yourself.
But we aren’t talking about a potty break here. If you’re not taking that specific time out, you need to read a whole different article! I’m referring to those little squares that denote the days on your calendar. Within those days are blocks breaking down every hour of every day. Do you notice how every one of these blocks seem to have something in it? Even if it’s not written down, you know it’s not free. Your squares are time, and they are all taken.
So the mere suggestion of adding to that crazy schedule by blocking out some time for yourself can seem overwhelming – you can’t spare that square! Yet we are telling you that you can and you should.
We go into a little more detail in our article 3 Simple Things You Can Do To Make Time For Yourself, but until you get over there, here’s a brief summary:
- Stop saying “Yes” every time someone asks you for something – be it a ride to the store or to help host a party. Sure, occasionally is fine, but stop being the Yes Woman that everyone counts on and eventually takes advantage of. Just say “No!”
- Don’t be the Go-To parent or person in everyone’s life. Delegate!
- Give your kids a break – from you! Drop them off at this weekend’s birthday party (only if you know and trust the parents there, of course. And definitely ask them first, even offer to return the favor for the next party!)
Not only will you have more opportunity to take a consistent Time-Out, but by lightening your load you will feel less stressed and overwhelmed.
We’ve talked to hundreds of moms, read as many comments on various blog sites, seen interviews and experienced it ourselves first hand. These three Mother Myths, among endless others out there, are at the root of our misguided rationale of putting ourselves consistently last.
Which is the thinking that needs to stop in our society, because if everyone is going to depend on mom, if we are going to be the proverbial center of everyone’s universe, then it is contradictory that we are not taken care of first and foremost.
Once you understand how vital a Mommy Time-Out is to your health and your family’s well being, it will become the priority it deserves to be. Which means it will actually happen and it will no longer sound like the fiction you were led to believe it is.
*Image courtesy of sattva / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
**Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
***Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
****Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net