Does Mom get free time too?
It’s Blog Cruise time again. This week’s question is How do you find free time? Is it okay to take time for yourself? If so, how?
As I ponder these questions, I can’t help but answer “it depends.” Is it okay to take time for yourself, yes, but how and when, are going to depend on a lot of factors.
I know when my girls were little I really struggled with whether or not I was being completely selfish for thinking I needed a break. I love my girls. I enjoy being with them. I was haunted by the words of a mom of many. She and her husband came by themselves to bring us a dinner when my 4th baby was born. I made the comment that it must be nice to get out without the baby (their baby was a few months older than mine) and she responded with something like “I like being with my children.” She was older than me; she had more children than me. Surely, she must then have more wisdom and clearly I was missing something.
But was I? I didn’t mean nor did I imply that she didn’t like being with her children or that she didn’t like her children or that she was a bad mom, but it was a compliment that having older children to watch the baby for a few minutes must be a blessing.
Still I wondered, was I wrong to want to think I needed some time without the children? Was there something wrong with me? Was there some character quality that I was lacking for thinking a few minutes without my child would be refreshing?
No, there wasn’t anything wrong me. Through the years, I’ve come to believe that the woman didn’t mean to chastise me with her words so much as to assuage any guilt she might have been feeling at leaving her young baby home with her teen daughter.
Are there selfish moms out there who put themselves before their children? I’m sure there are but I’m also equally sure that needing some free time does *not* make you a selfish mom.
So what does free time look like? Well when the girls were really really little it sometimes looked like a nap for the girls while I played on the computer. Or it meant the girls playing with daddy for 1/2 an hour so I could clean the kitchen after dinner without interruption. It may sound strange but I really treasured that 1/2 hour even though I was cleaning. No little person demanded to nurse or asked a “why?” question or needed a diaper change or tried to “help” in that preschool not really helpful way.
Sometimes free time looked like Daddy taking 4 girls to do errands so I could do whatever I wanted. He didn’t do this often (taking 4 little girls out by oneself is no easy task especially when one is the daddy and not the mommy!) but he did it when I needed it.
Usually, free time meant getting up before the girls. This required balance though because if I got too much time before they were up, I found that I lacked the self-discipline to stop doing what I wanted so that I could do school with them and I would find myself resenting them for intruding into my time. I discovered that there really was such a thing as too much me time.
Now that that girls are older, my time or my free time doesn’t necessarily require “alone time”. It doesn’t require sending the girls with daddy or leaving them at home and I leave without them. We attend a Bible Study twice a month. It’s kind of like free time for me. The girls are there but they are either participating in the study or they are in the playroom. I get to have stimulating adult conversation and I get to not feel guilty about leaving my girls because they are right there with me.
I found that what free time means or what it looks like is a reflection of what I need or where I am at. Whatever it is that I need to “fill the tank” so that I can keep giving to my family is what I find myself doing for free time. Having a clean house makes me feel good. Being organized makes me feel good so sometimes my free time is “working” but it satisfies me and gives me that “alone” time I need.
If you find yourself resenting your children, take a look at free time. It may be that you don’t have enough but it could also mean that you have too much and you need to find the balance. Having free time is a necessity and do not let any one make you feel selfish because you need to be without children every now and again especially when you are both mom and teacher.