Monday, September 13, 2010

The "Me-Time Myth" Myth

Blog cruise time again this week!

"How do you find free time? Is it okay to take time for yourself? If so, how?" is the Blog Cruise question(s) this week.

And that got me thinking.  Not always a good thing, LOL!

One frustration I've had with the homeschooling community is that I often feel the need to apologize when I take time by myself to do something for me.  A couple of weekends ago, I was thrilled to spend most of a day alone.  I hung out at Starbucks, got a lot of things done, and really, truly enjoyed not having anyone touch me.

This time, when I mentioned it online, I didn't have anyone go linking me up to articles about how wanting some "me-time" is totally unbiblical, or is really unnecessary, or just proves I'm selfish.  But last spring when I was frustrated about the fact that I was supposed to get some time by myself and it fell through when Dale had to take a business trip, I did hear all of that.  That I'm caught up in worldly values and I shouldn't want to be away from my family.  I should be less focused on me and more focused on we.  A whole guilt trip that I really did not need.

It seems like whenever I mention looking forward to some time away from my family, I have someone telling me how they can't imagine wanting to be away from their kids, and making me feel horrible for anticipating a couple hours of time alone.

So -- time for yourself -- is it okay?  I say a resounding YES.  If you are someone who doesn't need it, good for you.  I'm jealous.  But I will no longer be made to feel guilty for NEEDING some time where nobody is talking to me, and more importantly, nobody is TOUCHING me.

I've discovered that I really need to be able to reclaim my personal space.  I never, ever would have thought this of me years ago... but having five touchy kids and a husband... if I don't get some time without all that sensory input, I overload.  And I overreact.  To everything.  Someone brushes against my leg and I jerk back like I've touched hot coals.  It's involuntary.  I get so over-touched that I grit my teeth to endure hugs from my children.  I hate that.  I really hate that.  Fortunately, I don't get to that point often.

But getting back to wanting hugs from my children isn't difficult.  I just need some time to decompress.  Usually that can be just me alone in the bedroom.  But sometimes I really, really need a few hours of touch-free bliss.

I get the idea behind the "Me-Time Myth."  That we need to be looking to God to fill that hole instead of thinking about "me time" being able to fulfill us.  I guess my me-time isn't something I'm doing to feel fulfilled.  It is something I'm doing to truly recharge.

I don't know that I've really expressed what I wanted to here (it's been a long couple days and I am exhausted... spending 18 of the last 24 hours in a car with five kids will do that to you!).  I think my basic thought on time for yourself and whether it is okay does touch on the point of the "me-time myth" folks.
  • Are you looking to me-time for fulfillment instead of looking to God?
  • Do you find fulfillment in your role as a wife and mom?
  • Do you come home from me-time feeling sorry for yourself because you still have dishes, laundry, and schoolwork, none of which got done while you were away?
 I, usually, come back from my infrequent me-time refreshed, better able to interact with my huggy children, and with a better attitude towards dishes and clutter.  I don't come back feeling sorry for myself because I deserve more time away.  I do believe my me-time makes me a better wife and mom.

And I refuse to continue to allow other homeschoolers who either have a higher touch threshold or less touchy children make me feel guilty for enjoying the occasional time I have away from my family.

The TOS Crew Blog is sponsoring a question of the week every Tuesday.


Heather said...

Oh, no Debra! I actuallY wrote my post about the me time myth!!! But, I did not do that to make anyone feel guilty, but rather to show that as the kids get older, you DO get more space-somewhere along the line it just happened. I cannot even pinpoint when... I just woke up one day and someone brought me coffee...and everyone was too busy for me. Yes I almost went into shock:)) so, please know I pray for all you guys with younger ones. And needing space is different from being disinterested...or too busy for your family. Someday I'll have to visit u in co when we go to see our in laws. No kids!!

Deb said...

You are so right-on here, Debra.

I have to have time away too, even if it's just a couple of hours. I feel the exact same way about being "over-touched." I usually think moms who insist they don't require ANY time away are lying - either to me or themselves.

Good grief, as I was typing this, I said to my kids, "quit yanking on me!" twice. And I realized I CANNOT wait for knit-night this week!

No guilt coming from here!

Debra said...

Blogger is being a problem today. I WILL get this to post. I will, I will...

Heather -- I figured when I posted this that I was going to be totally at odds with some other posts. Haven't read yours yet (I will!) but I expect we aren't completely opposite.

Deb -- have fun at knit-night! I wrote something far more eloquent the first time I responded... I know that someday I am going to miss all the little people hugs. I can already see that. But I plan to also remember how over-touched I can get, and that too much of even a great thing is just that: too much.

Lori Watson said...

I haven't written mine yet. And I normally don't read others before I write mine but I needed a five minute Facebook break and it was just there and I just read it. Bad me. 'Cause what I say here may be repeated there. Oh well.

I think how much Me Time we need has a lot to do with if we are introverts or extroverts. One of my best friends is an extrovert. She gets recharged by being with people. She enjoys her adult time as much as any other but she'd prefer it be with other adults and she doesn't need as much Me time as say...ME! I'm an introvert. I do not get recharged with other people, I get drained. I need a little alone time to "power up" and then I am a much better mom, wife, friend, etc. I used to feel guilty about it too but no more!

Cristi said...

Thank you Debra. I read your thoughts this morning, and it encouraged me as I start another homeschool week. I too have heard people talking about how the need for "me time" is a self-centered myth. I beg to differ, and I'm going to enjoy our quiet rest time a bit more this afternoon by not feeling guilty about the hour I take for myself in the afternoons.

Laura O in AK said...

Debra ~ I like to say all things in moderation. When you have littles (like the one I have now), you get little time as they just need you more. But, once they are older they can be a bit more independent from you. If I had NO time without a child clinging onto me, I'd go a bit crazy. (Gee, wasn't that the month of April when I also got almost no sleep??) But, I also remember that God entrusted me with four precious souls that need me. Sometimes that means I have to set other things aside or be content with short bursts of alone time. Eventually, they'll need less of my time and I'll have more for myself.

Hope that rambling makes some sense...

Tess said...

I love how you use the word recharge. That's the concept I was dancing around with my blog post. I restrained from reading your post until after I had written mine and I think we're on the same wave-length. Getting re-charged is *necessary* for some of us so that we can be the mommy we are called to be. I am a better mommy when I get some "me time". Great post!

Jodi said...

I totally agree! We are with our kids all of the time. God wants to give us rest. I mean, if we don't then we know what comes next...burnout, frustration, etc. Great post Debra! Thanks for participating in Blog Cruise, and I did find your link on the form, lol.

Vickie said...

Great post! I love your total honesty. Not many people can admit to being touched too much. My oldest dd is that way too. Her kids understand this, which is awesome.

Never feel guilty about your own needs. Remember, feelings are neither right nor wrong, they just are. And if you feel you need alone time to recharge, then by all means, don't let anyone, not one person, let you feel guilty for that.

God's Blessings