Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Life Well Lived: Balancing Me-Time

Today's question: How do you put yourself first? How does taking time for yourself help make you happier?

The first sentence that comes to mind is hard to imagine without a martyr-like tone, but try. My first impulse is to say that I put myself first because no one else will.

Unfortunately, a statement like that is hard to hear without imagining that someone's complaining or being passive-aggressive and that's not at all my intent. It's simply a statement of fact.

As a single mom, you can build up a great circle of friends, you can reach out to your family, you can find an online community, but there will inevitably be times when it's just you in the moment and there's no one else around that can take the kids for an hour or let you cry on their shoulder. It's just you and you alone to deal with it.

And I know a lot of married parents that can relate, too. They'll tell me, when their spouse is on an airplane or otherwise can't be reached, "I felt like a single parent." There are differences, of course, but that's what they mean. They experience that moment of having no support system and having to face it right then and there.

Having experienced a number of those moments, I have learned that I do indeed deserve a little me-time. In fact, I need a little me-time every day.

While the girls can stay up later now that they're older, I basically kick them out of the living room at 9 p.m. It's not all me-time from 9-11; I do my prep for the next day, but I am free to watch grown-up TV, read or play Words with Friends, and not have to talk or actively listen. I need those couple of hours to myself in order to feel like I have done something for myself at some point every day.

I also make time to spend with friends. Usually, at lunch during the work week, but sometimes a Happy Hour or night at the theatre. I cherish my friends and having so little time with them makes me appreciate every minute together even more.

The question on the BlogHer post brings up guilt for taking me-time. I'm so over that!

I'm not a perfect mom by any means, but I know that the majority of the time, I put my children first. They're my number one priority 22 hours out of the day. 2 hours to myself is such a small fraction, but it makes all the difference. It helps me be a better mom those other 22 hours. It's a parent's version of the 80/20 rule.

Add your own tricks to finding me-time on the BlogHer post, and enter the sweepstakes to win a Kindle Fire.


Missy June said...

I'm so glad we have the freedome to be 'over it' and enjoy some me-time! Thank you for sharing! Often I live for those couple of hours at the end of the day.

Mandy said...

Hi April - what I've realized is that it's not other people won't make time for your me-time, it's that you're the only person who truly knows what me-time you need and how you need to spend it.

Best ... we should play words with friends ..

Raine said...

so true. as a single mom, myself, i totally see where you are coming from. i too spend a couple hours most nights for myself. you've gotta.