taking time for yourself

February 23, 2015

taking time for yourself / kapachino

I have alone time on the brain this morning because I have a day off work, during which I planned to get lots done on my projects that I can’t do with the kids around, but Liam has perfectly timed his second round of pinkeye to coincide so instead I’m on motherhood duty again.

Recently David and I both took a personality test and we had a date to discuss the results. It was fun! One of the aspects of personality it measured was introversion/extroversion. This has to do with what energizes you – alone time, or being with other people. Unsurprisingly, I scored high on the introversion scale. (Yet my personality type – ISFJ – is usually very social, which explains why I love to connect with others so much.)

I’m very tempted to feel guilty by my need for alone time: if I love my husband and my kids, shouldn’t I want to spend the most time with them possible? Especially since I work and our time is already limited?

But it was a mind-blowing discovery for me in recent years when I realized that, being an introvert, I really need time to myself to recharge. It’s an act of self-care. And I’m not going to be a very good version of myself for my family if I don’t get it.

Unfortunately, that time is extremely hard to come by as a mom, as most of you probably know – whether you work or not. I think back to before I had kids and I wonder: what did I DO with myself? Why didn’t I get so much more done? Why didn’t I do all the things??

Have you heard the saying that no one is going to GIVE you time to yourself, so you have to take it? That sounds kind of aggressive, but I think it’s mostly true (except sometimes my husband or my parents or in-laws intuitively know when I need a break and help me out).

David is an extrovert, and in addition one of his top love languages is quality time. So it doesn’t naturally occur to him that I might want alone time, and that’s why communication is so important. I think he is finally starting to understand, although he still can’t relate and has had to learn not to take it personally. But he has been supportive all along, and every weekend he tries to give me a large chunk of time alone. During this time he usually takes the kids on an adventure – something fun or just running errands. (Don’t ask me about naptime; it’s a sore subject.)

I don’t get alone time much at all during the week the way our schedule goes (mostly because I go to sleep at the same time as the kids – maybe one day that will change), so this break on the weekends is critical for my sanity. I notice that when I don’t get it – like when David is sick, or we have too many commitments scheduled – I start to get irritable and depressed.

Liam basically a toddler now, but what about when you have a little baby? Do you think it’s possible to have restorative “me” time WITH your baby? I think yes, to a point. You can’t do every solo activity you might want to with the baby around, and you don’t get the mental break of freedom from caring for others, and you might not get a break from all the touching. But until the baby is mobile, I feel like I can go a lot longer without having complete alone time. (Now, if it’s just me and Liam, constant vigilance is required and it’s not relaxing at all.)

What are your thoughts on alone time? How do you fit it in? What activities do you do when you do get time to yourself, and what about when you’re with your baby? I’d love to hear also from moms who are extroverts – do you still feel like you need breaks like this?

Posted in: motherhood, personal

Comments on taking time for yourself

  1. 1

    From Nora:

    I didn’t have a need for a lot of Me Time until my mom passed away. Now it’s a staple and if I don’t get it, I get overwhelmed, panicked and a not so great version of myself. Part of it is, I think, because I’m supporting other people in a way I hadn’t been previously: checking in my dad more, seeing him a few times a week in social situations; still sorting through my own feelings and in the midst of all of that, the social calendar is busier this year with all sorts of things. I find myself running, running, running and then I’m suddenly exhausted and wiped out in every sense of the word. Fortunately I get me time once a week when Knight is out with the guys (bowling league). I also will workout longer some days just to have more time to myself.

    When my bonus daughters are here it’s so hard to have me time. My me time is relegated to my commute to/from work. I may skip church once or twice while they are with us so that I can have a few hours to myself. I feel guilty taking time to myself while they are here since we don’t see them as much as we would like, but I’m working on that guilt!

    Just realized I’m writing a short story so I’ll wrap this up :)

  2. 2

    From Kim:

    I am the exact same way. If I don’t get alone time- time that I’m not just alone, but doing something that I want to do- I get irritable and depressed. If that happens then no one in the house is happy because I’m snapping at them all. Andy is really good at stepping up when I need that time and he handles a lot of the parenting duties on the weekend so I can have a break. I do find myself thinking back to when it was just him and I and we’d have hours to spend in the evening doing whatever we pleased. I have to remind myself that this time with little kids is hard but it is short compared to the grand scheme of things. Someday I’ll be wishing for my kids to come back around and take up some of my time. In the meantime I just do what I can to sneak a few quiet moments here and there.

  3. 3

    From San:

    I am definitely like you, an introvert who needs a lot of ‘me’-time. It’s kind of hard to come by sometimes when you work full-time and have grown up responsibilities, but I can only imagine how much harder it is when you have kids AND work. I am very glad you’re talking so openly with your husband about your needs, because I do think that he doesn’t need to understand, but accept that me-time is essential to your well-being.

    When I get time to myself, I like to go for a run, read (books or blogs ;)), knit, or just watch a tv show (in peace and quiet).

  4. 4

    From Stephany:

    My need for alone time is something that is essential for my well-being. It’s one of the reasons I struggle so much with the potential for children in the future because I covet that alone time so much. (Among other reasons why I’m on the fence about parenthood! Not my only reason. :)) I am also an introvert & a HSP so my energy levels get depleted very easily. I try to keep my weeknights free with maybe 1 commitment during the week, and even on the weekends, I only try to have 1 or 2 commitments because I don’t function well with being busy. It makes me feel SUPER lame (especially as a twenty-something, when most of my friends are CRAZY BUSY every weekend with social plans!)

    I think finding alone time as a working woman with a family has to be incredibly hard! There are just so many responsibilities tugging for your attention. So I think it’s great you’re communicating your needs to your husband, so you can carve out that alone time you need to recharge and take care of your self.

  5. 5

    From Sarah:

    I think I feel a lot of the same things you do about me time. I feel guilty when I take it, but cranky when I don’t. I also get frustrated with myself because getting a little bit only makes me want more, more, MORE and that’s not often realistic.

    My husband is much more of an introvert than I am, but I’m guessing quality time would be BIG for him if he ever did the love languages thing. He shys away from social things but would be perfectly happy to always be with me and Emma — which does cause some tension at times when I really just want to be truly alone.

    I get every other Friday off work while he works and Emma goes to daycare. I shudder to think what would happen if I didn’t have that day to myself. As soon as one is over, I started looking forward to the next one! :)

  6. 6

    From Sarah Johnson:

    Naps are sore subjects around here. For the past months, we’ve been driving for naps and we just can’t afford that anymore. Sunday, we battled for 2 hours and finally gave up. Yesterday, he battled for an hour but then finally went to sleep and slept until 5. I paid for it last night since it was after 11 before he went to sleep. Today, he only battled about 45 minutes and fell asleep on the couch. We’ve been doing a reward chart- so yesterday and today he got a small toy. Tomorrow, he’ll just get a sticker and then Thursday he can earn another toy. After that, they’re spread out every 3 days for these first weeks.

  7. 7

    From Melissa:

    I too really crave/enjoy/feel rejuvenated by having alone time. I notice this about myself so much more now that I have kids and a family. I think the reason it’s so much more apparent to me now is because alone time is much harder to come by. Before children I had oodles of time (obvioulsy I didn’t realize it at the time…).

    I’m fortunate to have Thursday off work. The girls both go to daycare that day and I’m able to get most of my errands and household chores done. It’s actually a very busy day but I’m alone and I usually get an hour, sometimes two to do things just for me that day.

    Life does happen, and sometimes I too am on mom duty those days because daycares close and kiddos get sick.

    But like you, alone time is hard for me to come by. When we just had Alice, my in-laws used to take her for several hours on the weekend but now that we have two that really does’t happen anymore. Well they still take Alice every now and then but we have to schedule ahead of time for them to watch both girls… Which is to be expected I suppose :)

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