Moms Need “Me Time”
Written by Shelle Lenssen
Last week my daughters were sick. Not horribly sick, but their colds turned both girls into cranky little bears. Neither slept well for a couple of nights and both were clingy and needed extra “Mommy Time.” My six-year old spent her time curled up under a blanket, reading books with me and watching movies. My two-year old was especially difficult and woke up several times in the night, only wanting to be comforted by me. I appreciate snot-filled, sweet snuggles as much as any mom does, but at 3 a.m. I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I dutifully met my daughters’ needs, and grew more annoyed and irritated in the process.
Finally, on Saturday afternoon, I just broke. I needed a break from the whininess and clinginess of my daughters. I needed a break from being their everything and needed to take care of myself for a couple of hours. Remember how during pre-flight safety briefings, the flight attendant instructs parents to put on their oxygen masks before helping their kids? Well, it had become clear that I had neglected to put on my oxygen mask. So for a few hours, I passed the parenting baton to my husband and took a nap. It was glorious to be alone and catch up on sleep. No one bothered me, asked for anything, or demanded my attention. In short, it was exactly what I needed.
I emerged feeling refreshed and better able to parent. I was more cheerful and eagerly spent time with my daughters and had kind words for my husband. The attitude of the whole family changed when I took care of myself. In theory I know I am better able to serve my family when I take some time for myself, but in practice “me time” often becomes an afterthought.
In the days following, I made an intentional effort to do some little things for myself. I downloaded a new e-book, met a good friend for a walk on a sunny afternoon, listened to a funny podcast, bought a new pair of shoes, and spent some quiet time remembering to be grateful. The proverbial oxygen flowed through my beaten body and I became the kind of mom and wife I like to be. The girls and I had impromptu dance parties in the kitchen, my husband and I shared inside jokes and played footsie under the dinner table, and I didn’t snap when the toddler asked for an extra snuggle before bed.
This past week served as an excellent reminder to me. As much as I think I’d like to be a Mommy Martyr, sacrificing every piece of myself for my husband and kids, when the rubber meets the road, I need to take care of myself. I’m happier, which in turn makes my family happier, which is really the best for all of us.