The Power of Me Time

January 26, 2016
the power of me time

When you’re a mum, any kind of mum – single, working, attached, stay at home – alone, or ‘me time’ become incredibly precious. In your new job as caretaker of a little mewling, pooping, vomiting bundle of joy you suddenly become indispensable, the most important person in the world to your offspring.

Sure, Daddy’s grand, but having grown inside you for the last 9 months, new baby reckons Mummy is where it’s at. And new baby has no sense of night and day, so Mummy is suddenly where it’s at 24/7.

Come to think of it, toddlers don’t have much respect for the twilights hours, either. Neither do school kids. This new job of Mum is basically like being an on-call doctor, only you don’t get holiday time and you’re paid in gummy grins and Ready Brek on your clothes.

This is why the force of Mother Nature is so strong. If we didn’t have these amazingly fierce and emotive bonds with our kids they’d probably be out the window quicker than you can say ‘dry clean only’. Even now, although I was woken at 5am this morning by a 3 year old’s fingers in my eyes as he wanted me to look at the ‘shooting star’ out the window (AKA early morning Ryanair flight from Luton to Dublin), I’m kind of going all warmhearted and doe eyed thinking about him. MOTHER NATURE, YOU CLEVER MANIPULATIVE BEAST.

But I’m not a robot. I can’t be this ON all day every day – it’s exhausting, emotionally and physically. So I’ve started to re-introduce the concept of me time.

Since I’ve started taking this thoughtful and purposeful time out from my children, either when they’re at school or with their dad, I’ve realised how important it is. I am with them for so much of the time and feel like I’m always on – even when they’re asleep I’m a quick call out away from bounding up the stairs to stroke foreheads and whisper soothing words. In fact, even when I’m asleep I’m never really fully gone like I used to be: there’s always one ear open. And when I am awake there’s always something I’m doing for someone else – cooking, cleaning, working, nagging, dressing, tidying, bathing, feeding. The job of a mother is relentless.

the power of me time

In December I took the bull by the horns: it had been an incredibly tough month and I was simply done. DONE. I needed to get away and in true last minute style I shot off to a spa. I felt like I was in need of time to lie in a dark room, rocking and moaning, but because people look at you strangely when you do that in a spa I chose the alternative… a massage and facial.

It was incredible. I fell asleep and dribbled. And then woke myself up by snoring. Sexy? Not so much. Relaxing? HELL YES.

It made me realise how important this time is alone. Time out to hold our hands up and say: this one’s for me. It’s not about the baby, it’s not about the toddler, it’s not about the teen, it’s not about nurturing someone else. It’s about looking after myself so I am better equipped to look after others when I return to real life.

I can’t tell you how important that is for me. It makes such a difference to return to normality after pampering myself; I feel so much more capable to take on the world and my children. I need that time to remember what’s important in my life and where I’m going… why I persist with the relentlessness that is motherhood, day in, day out.

I’m not suggesting we all head off to spas every other weekend. The whole premise of this idea of needing me time is that we’re parents, and if we’re parents we can’t afford regular spa breaks (sigh). But we can afford to take ourselves to a coffee shop once a week to read our books for an hour, or to drop by a local restaurant to enjoy lunch in blissful silence (I love Carluccios £10.99/2 course menu for this). Or how about going for a child-free walk or run, or even sticking the kids in the creche at IKEA and enjoying a one hour stroll around the shop (I recently did this with my friend Amy and it was heaven). 

There’s a flip side to this, though: I do feel strongly about some things we interpret as ‘me time’ that really aren’t. The pleasure of going to the supermarket alone? NOPE. Locking yourself in the toilet for 10 minutes to get your business done? NAH. A haircut? NON.


Basically, if it’s an activity a man does alone without a second thought then it ain’t treating yourself. As beautifully serene as those Waitrose aisles are.

I feel like I should start a campaign here: Stylist did Reclaim Your Lunch Break, now it’s time for us to Reclaim Our Me Time. Are you in? What else should we do in our me time?

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  • Reply Claire January 26, 2016 at 11:55 am

    Thank you so much for this – as a mum on recovery from PND this was one of the things I had to focus on me time. Looking after yourself is so important so that you feel well to look after others. Your totally write when you say that trips to the supermarket and haircuts are no me time – this used to be my only me time and funnily enough it didn’t fell relaxed at all. Sometimes it’s the simple things like half an hour in Starbucks with a book, whatever makes you feel relaxed. Thanks for sharing :-). X

    • Reply alice January 26, 2016 at 4:23 pm

      I so agree… looking after others really depletes you, physically and emotionally. Me time is essential for healthy mum time! x

  • Reply Joanna Frangos January 26, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    Morning Alice – another very interesting and timely post. Being a single mum with a supportive ex-husband I get more me-time that pretty much anyone I know, as well as having goodly amounts of “us time” with my two children. So to this end I have embarked on a training course this year, which is being held over 8 weekends (3 days each time). This isn’t strictly me time in the way of a massage or a spa, but it is very much about deepening my relationship with myself, as well as hanging out with a wonderful group of like-minded folk. I also volunteer on a rape crisis line which again, isn’t me time but it brings me so much satisfaction to be part of something that isn’t about “me”, funnily enough. However, on a me-time front…. I have lovely long soaks in the bath, slow mornings when I don’t have to rush, coffee with girl friends, walks in nature. And I get some time to write as well. x

    • Reply alice January 26, 2016 at 4:32 pm

      Hi Joanna! I sometimes feel a bit guilty that i don’t have to fight for these pockets of ‘me time’ as my ex has the children every other weekend, but then I remind myself this time makes up for the fact that the rest of the time is all up to me.

      I’ve been looking at applying for an MA this year – like you it’s not strictly time that’s just for me but I think it would be so satisfying to better myself in my time off.

      And ahh… lovely long soaks in the bath :) x

  • Reply Becky | Spirited Puddle Jumper January 26, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    Amen to this Alice! I am definitely someone who is a MUCH better parent when I’ve had a break. In fact, I’m amazed I was a SAHP for so long. Whilst I loved having the opportunity to be there fully for them, I became a much happier, less stressed Mummy once the kids started preschool, and I had more time for me, and I now to go back to work 3 days a week (not that it counts as ‘me time’ as such but you know what I mean). I adore my children, but they are (rightly) pretty demanding at 3.5 and nearly 5, and I often feel suffocated by the constant having to do stuff for them/being climbed over/whinged at. Which I know is normal, and I don’t want to sound ungrateful as I love the bones of them, but I just need to BREATHE sometimes!
    My favourite ‘me time’, and something I’m planning soon, is a big day/night out in London on a week day. I’m getting OH to finish work a few hours early/rope grandparents in and get kids from school/preschool. Then post-morning drop off I’m going to hop on the train up town. Brunch at The Riding House Cafe, with papers/book. Then do all the touristy sites at a leisurely pace, that even though I live in Zone 5, I just don’t get to see with kids properly. Coffee and cake in the afternoon, with more book reading. Maybe a massage. Then meet friends for (lots of) drinks and food post-work. Heaven! You can see I’ve thought about this a lot…. Must actually book this in the diary soon! Great post x

    • Reply alice January 26, 2016 at 4:39 pm

      ABSOLUTELY! Regular breaks are the absolute key to good parenting I reckon.

      Your day off sounds absolutely epic! I usually only take a day in London if I can link it with work and I should really try to change this mindset – I need to take a day just for me – no kids, no work, just book reading followed by wine. Absolutely divine x

  • Reply Harriet January 26, 2016 at 2:25 pm

    Hell yes! My girls go to nursery on Thursdays. I work about 10hrs a month on my Thursday’s, for my husbands business, but the rest of those Thursday’s is for me. Ok, I mainly do jobs and errands and find our house under the toddler rubble, but I do it alone. I need it to be able to spend the other 6days of the week with my girls all the time! Yes it costs us money. Is that money worth it to have a sane and happy Mummy? Yes!
    And my husband gets them up and ready and takes them, so I have a lie in!
    I haven’t had a Thursday since October though, due to pesky work and now I have a daughter with mumps! Roll on Thursday, the most peaceful day of the week!

    • Reply alice January 26, 2016 at 4:45 pm

      ooh a lie in – what a treat! I get one this weekend and I CAN’T WAIT, I need my one lie-in every couple of weeks to feel human again and be a good parent.

  • Reply Katy Hill January 26, 2016 at 3:10 pm

    SO with you on the me time AND what DOESN’T constitute “me time”! When I get quality time alone it makes me a better mother. FACT. Loved your description of sleeping with one ear open! That’s so me! Never properly off duty! Ensuring you get enough “me” time is crucial but takes discipline as it’s seen as a luxury. It isn’t. The End! x

    • Reply alice January 26, 2016 at 6:47 pm

      You’re so right – I come back to mothering after my me time a much more zen mum. It should be prescribed on the NHS! ;) x

  • Reply Jennifer Jain January 26, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    Great post, you have it absolutely right when you say that if a man is doing it alone without thinking about it then it’s not me time. Since September I’ve had both children in school so I’ve had a bit of time to myself during the day, sometimes I catch myself feeling guilty if I’m doing something that’s just for me (like crochet instead of washing) but then I catch myself and remind myself that I’m making up for all those years of being at home with no time to get on with anything myself at all! I definitely need time to myself to help me function when I’m surrounded by people calling for me.

  • Reply Molly January 26, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    Definitely with you on this. The reality is that as a wahm “me time” doesn’t happen as often as I’d like (when does it ever!) because the reality is that I need to work during the evenings and during nap time. However, I recently re-enrolled in Yoga again – something I haven’t done properly since I was pregnant in 2014. It means I get a full hour and a half of blissful yoga on a Monday evening AND I don’t have to do bedtime because the husband does it solo while I’m at my class – result! I also get a full hour and a half “bonus” yoga class every other Weds morning when my mum comes over to look after the baby for the day. It’s amazing how much better I can work AND be a mum after that space to myself. It’s like it resets my brain to function properly again!

  • Reply Feeling frazzled in January (and I haven’t even given up wine!) | Weep For Sleep January 26, 2016 at 5:07 pm

    […] weekend I was lucky enough to enjoy some proper ‘me time’ – my good friend Alice has some very interesting points to make about this today – and I came back from feeling like […]

  • Reply Julie H January 26, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    I need to get on board with this. As a WOHM with a DH who works 6 days a week I’m always “on” be it work or home.

    I’ve found myself going to bed at 9pm just to be on my own away from anyone, which isn’t ideal.

    • Reply alice February 1, 2016 at 12:34 pm

      eek – 6 days a week!

      I bet you run around so much you find yourself not sitting down to relax at the end of the day until about 10pm – if ever.

      I always think that when I book in ‘me time’ I’m suddenly more efficient at work, too… win/win x

  • Reply Emma January 26, 2016 at 9:47 pm

    I’m so with you. With baby number two on the way in just over 3 weeks I have realised the only me time I currently have is hiding in the toilet eating a chocolate bar or a miserable trip to Tesco. Rather depressing! So I made a new year resolution this year, I will make time for me. Once a month (at least) I’ll treat myself to a treatment, a shopping trip, even a day out when I can manage it. With my first born I did everything from day 1, even though I could have made use of a fantastic support system. I’m not going to make the same mistake again!

    Before children I loved to travel, keep fit, shop, walk, wakeboard. But when I had my son it was like a switch was flicked that tells me to feel guilty every time I’m not at his beck and call! This year I intend to be more rational about this. He doesn’t need me 24/7 and if anything, it will probably be just as good for him as it will be for me!

    Thanks for writing this, Alice x

    • Reply alice February 1, 2016 at 4:10 pm

      This sounds fab, I swear it makes all the difference!

      Reading this bit about chocolate bars inspired me to eat chocolate hobnobs for lunch ;)

  • Reply Lori January 26, 2016 at 10:12 pm

    OK totally love this as whenever I’m carrying bags of shopping home and balancing a overspilling cup of over priced take away coffee and then later explaing I ‘got a coffee” to be met with of so you just sit around relaxing in coffee shops and I try not to wince I know it’s because it i’m sleep depriven and that is a NEED not a treat. I booked in a cinema date with myself last week and it was ACE, spa is not sounding too bad either! x

    • Reply alice February 1, 2016 at 4:22 pm

      I really want to take myself to the cinema alone soon! It’s literally a fantasy I have (weirdo).

      And nodding along at your coffee description… my coffees are usually balanced on my shopping trolley as I pile it with nappies and bananas ;)

  • Reply Mel Wiggins January 26, 2016 at 10:44 pm

    I’m in sister! It is life-giving to have me-time and recharge. I always feel like I have to justify it or sometimes I reason it away (I can have a bath in the evening when he’s alseep, I have time when he’s at school etc etc) but it’s not the same as proactively setting time aside, planning something that is important to me (but will also not leave me more tired) and bloody well doing it. Off to book a treatment – thanks for the kick! xo

  • Reply Rachel In Real Life January 27, 2016 at 11:24 am

    I absolutely believe in the power of me time. It’s so vital and for me it’s become a priority. I am a much better parent, wife, sister, all round nicer person when I have regular “me time”. Yes it sounds cheesy but as you say, looking after ourselves prepares us better for looking after others. The husband and I went on a spa break, without the kid, in December, for the first time ever (child is 5.5 so that gives you some idea how long it’s been) and it was utter bliss. It made us realise how important it is. I don’t buy into a visit to the hairdresser being me time either; I don’t know about you but I’m constantly on edge wondering if my hairdresser is going to cut too much off! Fab post. x

    • Reply alice February 1, 2016 at 7:15 pm

      woah 5 years!

      Spa breaks are incredible. I used to look at them thinking how boring they must be, but now? I’d go on one every other month if I could!

      And totally feeling you on the hairdresser thing x

  • Reply Sarah (Grenglish/Yiayia's Kouzina) January 27, 2016 at 2:49 pm

    I really need to do more of this! Because I work from home 3-days a week, I think I get lots of me time however you are right – time alone is not the same as ‘me’ time. Going to the supermarket is also definitely not me time, although my husband once suggested it was :-)
    I think I am going to take myself out to a coffee shop with my new kindle this week!

    • Reply alice February 1, 2016 at 8:15 pm

      That’s the thing – I’m at home a lot too but working/washing/dusting definitely ain’t the same (as much as I love it ;).

      Hope you made it to the coffee shop xx

  • Reply Honest Mum February 4, 2016 at 10:30 pm

    So important to take time out, we often put ourselves last and without reserves for us we’re empty for everyone else. I didn’t see your post when I wrote mine, something we clearly all feel we need to practise more and not feel bad or selfish about. Love the pics x

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