If you’re anything like me, you daydream about all of the things you could do if you just had more time to yourself. I used to have vivid fantasies about me doing yoga, or meditating, or going out with friends, or just sitting in a beautiful spot enjoying the peace and quiet during my imaginary me-time.
Sadly, these daydreams will never become a reality if you don’t actually make them happen. One solution may be to negotiate with your partner to look after your family while you recharge, rest or do something just for you.
BUT then the guilt kicks in. As soon as you get your ‘me time’, it can be SO easy to slip into any of these thoughts:
- I should be using my time better
- I should be doing some jobs instead of something for me
- I should be spending my time playing with the kids, instead of on my own
And then there’s the guilt you might get from your partner. I used to have the same issue with my husband. He often made me feel guilty – he has a habit of rolling his eyes, or looking at me with those eyes that say ‘Are you serious?’ And then you get double guilt. Great – my own was enough!
Let’s think economically though.
What is it costing you when you don’t get any time out?
How do you benefit when you do?
Using a simple cost/benefit analysis can pretty quickly show you that not only will you benefit from some time out, but so will everyone else. You feel better able to cope, you feel recharged, you feel happier, you have that inner strength back.
Why do you feel guilty about any of those?
‘Me time’ is an essential aspect of self care. Without that space, life gets even more stressful and the burnout and exhaustion are harder to avoid.
4 Step Approach to Negotiate ‘Me Time’
Here is a 4 step approach to having that conversation with your partner. Let’s be clear though: this isn’t asking for permission! You are asking for their help and support. There is a difference.
Feel free to use this structure, but if you don’t need to go into so much detail – go straight to Step 4!
Step 1: Explain how you are feeling
“I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but lately I’ve been struggling with _______ and it’s really getting me down. Sometimes I feel like I’m going crazy.”
Step 2: Highlight the benefits of ‘me time’ for everyone
- how you felt when you returned
- any changes you made to your parenting
- reduction in stress
“When you had the kids last week it was so good to be able to have some peace and quiet. I really made the most of it, and when I got home I noticed I had more energy and was happy to get back into it. I was happy to see them, and felt like that little mini-break gave me a huge lift. They were actually happy to see me again, instead of giving me attitude all of the time.”
Step 3: Sell the importance of regular ‘me time’
It would really help if we could do that more often. If I knew I could do it regularly it would help me get through the week without getting so down PLUS I think the kids would love to spend some one on one time with you.
Step 4: The specifics are up to you
You could ask for some each week, every fortnight, once a month, for longer or short periods. You will know what seems fair and manageable for both of you, without putting too much pressure on either of you.
“How about taking the kids out every Saturday morning, so that I can have some time to myself? I’d really appreciate it.”
A final note:
Parenting together is about compromise and negotiation. If you need to, be willing to go backwards and forwards until you find an arrangement that works for both of you, and the children too.
Also – please don’t feel guilty about taking time out. Think about how good you feel when you have it – it’s worth it and so are you.
Make some notes about each step, so that you have the information on hand and front of mind, and have your chat when there are no distractions around!
First published for MumCentral in October 2014