Once upon a time, ‘me time’ was simply time.
I didn’t have to worry about anybody else’s needs. I simply did what I wanted to do. I took long baths, I watched a lot of Gilmore Girls and I always took the scenic route.
I had so much time to enjoy my own company that I never had a need for ‘me time’. It just wasn’t a concept I understood.
And then I became a mama.
These days, ‘me time’ is my ultimate dream. I lose a lot of time to daydreaming about time alone.
My deepest darkest fantasy is to spend a night in a fancy hotel. All. By. Myself. There would be no funny business, no matching underwear, no champagne. It would just be me sleeping for eight consecutive hours.
My phone would be switched off and I wouldn’t speak to another person for the duration of my stay. This is something I think about when I am wiping snotty noses, trying to talk tantruming toddlers back from the edge and breastfeeding a clingy baby.
Me time. Oh, if only.
The problem is, once you’re a mama, though you need ‘me time’ more than ever before, the quality of your alone time diminishes considerably. There are no more lazy Sundays spent in bed, no more candle-lit baths or impromptu pampering appointments because you’re having a bad day.
Instead, every moment you spend without kids becomes ‘me time’. This means around 80% of your ‘me time’ is spent on the toilet. And that sucks. You spend your days juggling the demands of motherhood with the exhausting commitments of drinking cold tea and not finding the time to eat. And that means you deserve some proper ‘me time’.
The following activities don’t count as me time, just in case partners (or even yourself) are wondering:
#1: Buying Groceries
It’s a sad state of affairs when a desperate dash to the supermarket to pick up toilet roll becomes a luxurious way of spending a few minutes alone.
Being child-free, even in a frozen foods aisle, suddenly feels exciting. You walk slowly, of course, and spend a long time comparing the prices of the various toilet paper brands – not because you care but because you can. Oh, the luxury of time.
And look, you have your hands free to shop without stress. And, best of all, when you get to the checkout, you discover there are no extra items in your trolley because nobody has been sneakily filling it with biscuits and sweets while your back has been turned.
Grocery shopping alone is the best, but it’s not quality ‘me time’ and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.
#2: Having A Smear Test
No. Just no. Ok, this may mean you get an hour or so to be child-free, but having someone insert a speculum into your nether regions is definitely absolutely not ‘me time’.
You couldn’t get any further away from ‘me time’ if you tried. As a general rule, if there is a speculum involved, it’s not ‘me time’.
Unless, you know, that’s how you like to spend your alone time and then, well, that’s your business.
‘Me time’ is about candles, relaxing music and unwinding, it’s not about collecting cells from your cervix.
#3: Cooking Dinner
“Sweetie, you make dinner and I’ll keep the kids entertained.”
Ah, great, but don’t later claim that you gave me some time to myself. If I’m peeling carrots, it’s not ‘me time’. If I end up with the smell of garlic trapped under my fingernails, it’s not ‘me time’.
Having twenty minutes to yourself to make dinner is much easier, that’s true. No babies wanting to be fed, no toddlers repeatedly asking how long dinner will be, no four year olds explaining exactly why they won’t be eating the meal you’re making. Sure, it’s easier to cook alone. That’s a no-brainer.
But that doesn’t mean this time can be used as an example of how much time I get to enjoy by myself. No way.
When you have a newborn in the house, the very act of showering can feel like one of life’s great luxuries. Most new mamas are pretty accustomed to the smell of sweat and sour milk thanks to the difficulty of showering when you have a newborn to feed, soothe and hold.
If it wasn’t for all the bleeding, new mamas might forget about showering altogether. If you’re getting clean by relaxing in a candle-lit bath whilst listening to whale music and breathing in the fumes of lavender oil, then yeah, that’s ‘me time’.
If you’re scrubbing sweat, off milk and dried blood off your body in the world’s quickest shower which you keep having to jump out of to check that your baby is ok (why do showers sound so much like crying babies?!) then no, that’s not ‘me time’.
Playdates are the ultimate sanity saver. They get you up, dressed and out of the house. They give your toddler somewhere to let off steam. They give your baby somewhere to explore and observe. They provide you with a much-needed outlet for all the moaning you need to do about your lack of sleep, the endless nappy changes and your need for a shower.
And, hopefully, you leave with kids so exhausted from all the fun that you’re guaranteed an hour or so to yourself when you get home.
Yep, playdates are awesome but they’re not ‘me time’. It’s great to have a friend to talk to but you’ll both spend most of the playdate running in different directions, breastfeeding, changing nappies and trying to tame toddler tantrums. It’s hardly the cocktail nights of days gone by, is it?
#6: When The Baby Naps
Baby naps are fun, mostly because you have absolutely no idea how long they will last. If you think it’s going to be a short one and simply sit next to the baby staring at your phone, the baby will nap for hours and you’ll spend the rest of the day hating yourself for wasting that precious time.
If you assume it’s going to be a long nap and pick out a movie to watch, the baby will be awake before you’ve even opened your popcorn. You cannot have ‘me time’ while the baby naps because you don’t know how long you’ll get to yourself and you’ll spend the entire time running in to check whether the baby is awake yet. That’s not relaxing.
#7: When Your Partner Is Out
Sometimes, your partner may try to sell a night at home with the kids to you as ‘me time’. Don’t fall for it. It’s bull.
What he really means is that he wants to go out and get drunk with his friends whilst you stay home and look after the kids. Obviously, that’s fine, but it’s not ‘me time’.
If you’re in charge of children, you’re not relaxing. End of.
By all means, encourage him to have his night out but then book yourself a massage for later in the week and that can be your R&R time.
If staying home with kids was the best way of getting alone time, you’d have volunteer babysitters queued up outside your door.
What mundane daily tasks have you heard passed off as ‘me time’?
Recommended Reading: 10 Things I Don’t Have Time For As A New Mama.