Why You Absolutely Need to Schedule Me Time Everyday
Do you ever feel selfish when you ask your kids to leave you be for an hour so you can read your new book? How about when you go to the gym, take an extra long bath, or just simply want to sip your coffee hot at the table for a few minutes before you make breakfast? You feel like your kids deserve your time, your heart, your soul, and if you use any of that for yourself then you are somehow robbing them, right? Well, you’re not. Of course, the pendulum can easily swing from you giving your children all of your focus, to you giving yourself all of your focus. Neither of these things are healthy.
Let’s start by discussing self-parenting. The ability to self-parent is what we should ultimately be aiming to provide our child with. Why? Because you need to be able to self-parent to be a functioning adult. How do we make sure our children have the ability to self-parent? We peaceful parent them. We foster honesty, self respect, empathy, communication, and personal responsibility.
What does this have to do with scheduling me time? Well, when you parent a child you must make sure that you are providing the child with what they need. When you self-parent you are making sure that you provide yourself with what you need. It will be extremely difficult to be a consistently peaceful parent if you are neglecting yourself. The same way it will be extremely difficult for your child to grow into a peaceful adult if you are neglecting them. Think of how a child behaves when they are neglected; they act out. Adults will do the same thing, only in different ways. Maybe you become snappy with your children. Maybe you distance yourself from your spouse. Maybe you become easily irritated. Maybe you shut down. Maybe you do one of a million things that tells your family that you feel neglected in some way.
You must take care of yourself first for the same reason you give yourself oxygen first on a crashing plane; once you can breathe freely you are capable of helping others.
So how do we make sure that the pendulum doesn’t swing too far in either direction?
Make a schedule.
You are going to need to make a schedule. You can write it out if it is helpful for you or someone in your family, but it is not necessary. You are going to want to make sure that the schedule works for you and your family. You can’t just say, “I’m going to the gym for me time everyday at 7 P.M.” without any negotiation. You don’t want to make anyone feel neglected, so you need to discuss it with your family first. You also want to make sure that both Mom and Dad are getting their me time scheduled, that way no resentment or bitterness builds against each other. My husband and I figured out with the kids that the best time for us to exercise is after we have our family time at night. The kids wanted an extra hour to stay up and play, just the two of them, before bed, which made that the perfect compromise. Once we are done exercising, the kids go to bed, and my husband and I usually have about an hour and a half before we go to bed. Sometimes we read together. Sometimes we read separately. Sometimes we do a puzzle. Sometimes we talk. Sometimes we just Netflix and chill. (Let’s be honest.)
(Side note: We do have a bedtime in our house. I know a lot of peaceful parents, especially ones that homeschool, say that there is no need for a bedtime. If that works for you then great. But there is nothing wrong with having a bedtime. I have a bedtime for crying out loud. I think what is most important is for everyone in the house to be on a similar schedule. For those that are interested in this topic, I’ll make sure to talk more about this in a future post.)
The schedule is the most important part because it ensures that you are getting daily me time. Without the schedule it will just be you waiting until it’s bedtime, or if you don’t do bedtime, waiting until the kids crash. This is not a fun game. I have played this game and every night I felt like I was terrible for just wanting it to be bed time more than anything else. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I wasn’t a bad mother; I was desperately needing time to myself. It is easier to live in the present and enjoy every moment when you know that you will be able to get what you want to done that day.
Talk to your children.
Explain to your children why you need time alone. Chances are your children won’t have any problems understanding this if they have siblings because they will naturally experience times of their own where they want to play by themselves. Once you have explained to them that you need time to yourself and you have all agreed on the time, you will be able to hold your children accountable for giving you that time. My me time is after 8 P.M. but of course this doesn’t mean that I don’t hear from my children again until the next day. This just means that my kids know that all of their requests for things that I must do for them need to be made before this time. At 8 I start my workout with their father, so when they come and ask for things we simply say “We’ll be with you once we are finished with our workout.” They don’t complain about it because it is a routine that we worked out together.
Remind yourself. Everyday.
Everyday you need to remind yourself that taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of your child. It’s easy to get trapped in the thought process of giving your entire being to your children. But we need to remember that being mom/dad does not mean that’s all that we are. Cultivating our own personality does not have to separate us from our children. It should give us liberty to deepen the relationship with our children because we are able to be in the here and now. Having the ability to self-parent provides your child with a strong role of independence and strength. Additionally, you are showing your child that it is possible to care for yourself along with others, instead of separate from others.
Neglecting yourself doesn’t do anything good for your child. When they see that you do not take care of yourself they will internalize that they do not need to take care of themselves. That’s the opposite of why we do what we do. We peaceful parent because we understand the objective here is to deliver our children to adulthood prepared to be self sufficient. The bottom line is you must take care of yourself in order to properly care for your children.