Mothers of young children – especially new moms – can often become so involved with the care of their children that they forget to take the time to care for themselves. This can end up creating an unsustainable situation and one that will adversely affect your ability to care for your children. Taking the time to care for yourself is important to you and to your whole family.
The Case for “Me Time”
1. You Are a Human Being, Too
If you think back to your own childhood, you might remember thinking your mom was this indestructible force that didn’t need a time out or a break from your sparkling personality. That’s just how your own children see you. Whether you want to admit it or not, you are fallible and your energy level is not unlimited. Trying to live up to those expectations all the time is going to take a toll on you.
2. Your Health is Important
If you’re not taking the time to properly care for yourself, you will end up getting sick. That’s just the normal result of poor care practices. Once you get sick, you’ll no longer be able to care for your children. To avoid this cycle, take the time you need to relax and eliminate stress, eat right, and get your physical activity.
3. It Helps to Avoid Burnout
You can begin to feel smothered and frustrated when your child is always under foot. Certainly, you still love your children, but you may not always like them. That’s only human nature. Taking a break and indulging in a little “me time” is just what you need to regain your perspective. When you do see your children again, it will be with renewed love and fondness.
4. Doing Something of Your Own is Fulfilling
When you take the time to indulge in a hobby or take on a new challenge, there will be a sense of accomplishment that will leave you feeling more fulfilled as a person. Additionally, your children will admire your accomplishments and feel pride in you for achieving something. We all want our children to emulate us, and by pursuing your own dreams, you’ll be setting an example you want your children to follow.
5. It Will Minimize the Effect of Empty Nest Syndrome
Someday, your children will leave home. If you’ve devoted all your time to raising your children without taking time for yourself, you’ll have nothing to fall back on. You’ll have abandoned your career and given up your hobbies, so you’ll be feeling abandoned and lost. On the other hand, if you continue to pursue your passions throughout those years, you won’t feel as lonely when your children do leave home.
How to Make the Most of Your “Me Time”
Get Back to Nature. Go to the park or the beach and take a walk each day. This can help you get some fresh air, reorganize your thoughts, and get those essential 30 minutes of physical activity.
Go Dancing or Join a Gym. Another way to get in some valuable time to yourself is to team up with friends for a workout, even if it’s just one or two nights a week. Taking dancing lessons or joining an aerobics program will be good for your body and spirit.
Head to the Library. Maybe what you really need is some quiet time with a good book. Take a trip to your local library and pick out a book to read. This can help you expand your intellect, as well as giving you a chance to relax.
Take a College Course. If you’ve left a career behind to parent full time, staying up to date on the changes in your field can help you get back to work later. Taking refresher courses or adding to your expertise with courses in new fields of study can maximize your employability if and when you do decide to return to work.
Whatever you choose to do, enjoying your time alone can greatly improve your ability to parent. Without that time away from your parenting duties, you’ll likely feel fatigued often and be less aware of your child’s needs. For your children, as well as for yourself, give yourself a break every so often.