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Friday, May 28, 2010

Is "Me Time" Too Important Now?


I'm Gigi. I'm a recovering lawyer as well as a former internet marketer. I live in Austin, TX by way of Phoenix, Orange County, San Francisco and Chicago. I am currently a SAHM and fumbling foodie. I spend my days practicing the art of living life haphazardly and blog about it at KludgyMom. I'm honored to be writing for Four Perspectives today!

I think this is a question worth asking: do we place too much importance on “me” time?

Before you start pelting me with rocks, garbage, lipstick and dirty diapers, let it be known that I am ALL FOR me time. I think it is important to ANYONE’s well-being – mother, father, grandpa, kid, whoever.

I think about my own mom, raising children in the 60s and 70s (yes. I am old.) She ran a household, cooked meals every day (couldn’t afford to eat out EVER), cleaned her house, visited her parents, made sure school work was done – all the things the moms of today do – but never was there a “I really deserve a spa weekend” moment back then. She didn’t get weekly pedicures – she didn’t get any pedicures. She didn’t engage in retail therapy. She had her hour or two of watching soap operas, but it wasn’t ever something she demanded as a right or an entitlement.

Was this healthy? No. She could have used a little less of us and a little more for her. It would have made her a better parent. But moms in her generation still had June Cleaver hovering over their shoulders, women’s lib movement notwithstanding. Obviously, it wasn’t ideal. And sometimes, with all due respect to my wonderful mom, it showed in her parenting.

But now I’ve started to wonder whether the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. My mom would’ve been looked upon as selfish for taking a spa weekend. Now, you’re almost an outcast if you don’t. The need for “mommy me time” is widely covered in all possible media. I see Facebook statuses, hear chatter at the elementary school, read blog comments that are rampant with “I know I just got back from a week’s vacation, but my kids are driving me nuts and I am going to spend the morning at Starbucks and getting my nails done. I DESERVE it.” or “I haven’t had a girls night out in WEEKS. I DESERVE it.” or “My husband worked until 8 p.m. last night and I was on point with the kids the whole time. He’s going to pay for that this weekend – the kids are ALL HIS. I need some time off. I DESERVE it.”

Just like the lack of me time is not healthy, too much me time can start to show in one’s parenting. I know because I spent two years of my life demanding and claiming me time: to play tennis, to go shopping, to have girls nights out – all in the name of “making me a more happy and well-rounded person so that I can be a better mother to my children.”

Well guess what? The me time started slipping into what should have been husband time, kid time, family time, volunteering at school time. My priorities got way out of whack. My marriage was on the brink. I wasn’t a better parent for having more me time, I was a more selfish and distracted one. I didn’t DESERVE all the time I had to myself. I DESERVED a swift kick in the pants, which I eventually got.

For men, the opposite seems to be true. Once having embraced the image of the detached dad who works all day and comes home to pour himself a martini and sit alone in the living room, our culture now seems to devalue men pursuing me time and pressures them to be more active and involved fathers, deeply engaged in every aspect of their children’s lives – to the point that, in my opinion, some men are left with nothing for themselves. And when they do try to claim some well-earned me time, they can be criticized.

Obviously, I don’t mean to generalize that “all moms take too much me time” or “all moms don’t take enough.” Every family’s situation is different. But what I am saying is that as a culture, where we place our value seems to have radically shifted. Each person will respond differently, with the goal being striking the right balance. But it’s such a difficult tightrope to walk.


Chrissy said...

Your statement about if your mom took time off to do what she wanted would of looked like she was selfish... maybe those who would have thought that were the envious ones? Seems like women who would think that that person was being selfish are the envious/catty ones? lol... I think its great that someone would remember to have their time... heck we all need it... even our pets- I definitely knew when my cat/dog would not want me petting them or they would slink off to their corner... I think it may become selfish when there is a definite absence, whereby the kids are wondering where mom is or having to scrounge for themselves... I think its been proven we all need some alone time to renew ourselves... It can be done and still balance out w/caring for kids, spouse, home and or job.

YogaSavy said...

The me time! Balance or moderation.... too much emphasis on the 'me' takes away from the connection as a family, couple, group or even community

Merri Ann said...

I think you did a great job with the wording of your post and I couldn't agree more. But I'm sure you will get some grief for daring to put those words out there.

There are trends that I'm swimming against the tide on and this is one of them. The others are the parents who choose to work because parenting is not fulfilling enough and the need to over analyze and over think every move or sound a child makes.

I know it makes me unpopular ... I get blasted every time I make a case for staying home with your child for the first 5 years and then go back to work. But I continue to stand my ground.

I think it's important to put a priority on family and moms just happen to be the glue that mostly make families work. We do sacrafice a bit more than men ... but for me personally ... it's a role I totally signed up for and one that I'm willing to sacrafice "me" time for.

PMC said...

i agree with you. i think your post is more about balance. and balance is totally what life is all about. our physical bodies are constantly keeping balance (temperature, pH levels, etc) and so there is also a delicate balance in our relationships, emotional and spiritual lives...etc. so easy to get out of balance actually. each and every day has it's own flow and balance...i have really been trying feel that out lately. i am so happy and content and at peace when it is achieved! :)

Becky said...

Fantastic Post!!!!
I myself was out for some Me Time this afternoon and when I arrived home this post was the first thing I read.... It confirmed everything I was pondering on when I was out for this `much needed` Me Time... Though I did enjoy myself. I am going to make sure that the Me Time I took today gets me through for as long as possible... and then Ill take another dose of it, always keeping in mind that balance is everything.

I must say that, arriving home after my afternoon out the dish water on my hands felt as good as a manicure, kisses on my face from kids as good as a facial and their wee hands touching my arms better than any massage therapists!!!!

Its all about balance with a good dose of selflessness and a touch of R`n`R!!!!

Great Post!!!

The Empress said...

Yes, GIGI!

I love this post.

It speaks to so many of us.

It is such a heartfelt post, and makes me feel that your husband and your children are the most blessed people on the planet with someone as grounded as you in their lives.

This is a winner, yes, it's a winner.

Glad so many people can see it, Gigi.

Congrats with being on 4Ps.

Melissa said...

Gigi! I love this post!!!

Anonymous said...

I have never printed a blog article. Yours is the first.
Thank you!
The funny part is when my printer started printing, all the other stories on Four Perspectives Blog started to appear. I finally had to turn my computer off to stop the printer.
From Technology Incoherent

Miel Abeille said...


Your comments resonate even with the non-mommies among us! The best lives are the ones lived in balance, and you articulated that exceptionally well. Bravo!

Lori said...

Oh, man! Three snaps in a Z formation! This is a ringer, Gigi--awesome post! I have some girlfriends whose Facebook doors I would just I would just LOVE to post this on. Two of my greatest heroes on this earth are my mother, who got pregnant with my older brother at age 16 and then proceeded to work her fanny off for her family in a low-paying job, and my mother-in-law, the polar opposite as the epitomistic June Cleaver SAHM. Both were incredible in their chosen paths.

This was very thought-provoking, especially about how that gender pendulum has swung. Marvelous.

BTW, my brother lives in Austin--beautiful city. Love those botanical gardens.

Katie's Dailies said...

I have to say that I haven't had a typical Girls Night Out since I was in college some 20 years ago. The only Girls Night Out recently had been Bunko nights---and honestly I quit after nearly a year simply because I missed my husband and kids too much. Sometimes I do think that women spend too much time griping about their kids and how their husbands don't do enough around the house, but isn't that why you got married and had kids in the first place? To be a Mom? My "me" time happens when the kids are at school (all that QUIET!!) and when I'm running... and that's plenty for this old fashioned Momma!

diane rene said...

awesome AWESOME post! thank you for daring to go there. I am done with the entitlement age. we all need our ME time, but when you choose to have a family, you choose to make sacrifices and sometimes that means your ME time is a trip to the supermarket with kids playing "the quiet game"

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