Thursday, April 08, 2010

"Me time"

In some Christian women and homeschooling circles, the words "me time" are like curse words.
People shy away from saying things like "I need some me time" for fear it sounds selfish or less sacrificial as a mother. I know this because I used to think that way.

Personally, I think everyone needs some "me time". Time to explore what God created you for. What makes you happy.  Time to spend with Him in thought--walking with Him in dailiness to discover the inmost parts that He created in each one of us. The things that make us unique, the things that revive us and rejuvenate us.

I know many advocate walking with the Lord in dailiness by saying, "converse with Him while doing dishes or laundry"--and I get that--I do...with five children and a household to run I think I can say "I get that." But that doesn't always cut it for me. I mean, can you really ever complete a thought with five children around?

Some people are wired differently. You may not need as much quiet time to think as I do. That's fine. I just found that when I tried to fit the mold of someone else: "Hey, they don't need to get away from their children and home every once in awhile! I shouldn't either!" then I was miserable in a deep part of me and I didn't really realize it until I was deep in anxiety and depression and just general ill health. That's why I believe we need time to meditate on Psalm 139; how He made and knows us, knows all the hairs on our heads, knows what makes us tick....or not.

You might say, "Well, women in the older times never had "me time"." And to that, I say, well---yeah. But this isn't older times. And a lot is different now. 

I think "me time" has been "Oprah-cized" to the point where we might now associate "me time" with mani/pedis (which I desperately LOVE to do) and champagne play-dates (which I most certainly do NOT do). 

I'm just sayin'-let's be careful not to group it all under one roof. And exercise a little common sense and grace and mercy and love--to ourselves and others. 

Karen Andreola was one of the first home school writers to actually talk about taking time for yourself as a mother. She even trademarked it Mother Culture and says :

During years of research Karen revived Mother Culture, an obscure term from the past, and has coined the phrase for today’s busy hardworking homeschooling mom. This is her favorite message to give, as the joys and advantages of Mother Culture overflow into the family circle.

Although she never used the term Mother Culture, Charlotte Mason noticed that "the old painters, however diverse their ideas in other matters, all fixed upon one quality as proper to the pattern of Mother. The Madonna, [mother with her children], no matter out of whose canvas she looks at you, is always serene. . . . we should do well to hang our walls with the Madonnas of all the early Masters [of art] if the lessons, taught through the eye, would reach with calming influence to the heart."

Charlotte believed that this countenance of contentment, of serenity, can come about even during stressful times when a mother learns to occasionally do for herself what she does for her children - go out to play. Charlotte tells us we would have happier households if we mothers "would only have courage to let everything go when life becomes too tense, and just take a day, or a half a day, out in the fields, or with a favorite book, or in a picture gallery. . ." For a mother to allow herself a bit of leisure to rest and refresh herself by exploring her own interests, to find a little time for herself, especially when so many others depend on her, is a what Karen calls, Mother Culture ®.

When a busy homeschooling mother takes part in Mother Culture she safeguards her enthusiasm, so she will be better able to cope with her responsibilities. To partake in Mother Culture is to feed herself with the Word of God, with ideas from books, nature, art, music, etc., thus taking care to keep growing spiritually and mentally. If there such is a thing as the joy of childhood, there is also such a thing as the joy of motherhood, and Karen admonishes mothers to recognize and live within such a blessing.

~Spend an afternoon in the park
~Piddle about your house--devoting the day to making your home a warmer, happier, place. (my favorite.)
~Go for a walk by yourself.
~Read a good book all day. Don't feel guilty. =)

Granted, we don't all have the luxury of making these things happen, but if we make them a priority, then they will be more likely to happen in some way. Mothers can be so creative with their time!
I know that I feel more like being a nurturer when I nurture myself and allow the Lord to nurture me with His words and His love. Some need more than others. The Lord knows this. Seek Him for your "me time"!

Skeleton self-care in challenging times
Taking time for you
Sabbath rest enforced
Take good care
Mother Culture and you


Emily Ruth said...

Thank you for articulating this concept so well. I too have struggled with the fact that I need me-time, but recognize that some define it in selfish terms. I felt that I had to justify giving myself time to just think and ponder.
I'm rambling, but thank you again. Beautiful post.

Aimee said...

i agree! I agree!

Mike has decided to take my kids every Wednesday evening from about 4:30 til bedtime OUT of the house...take them for pizza and that I can have UNINTERRUPTED time in the home for mental and emotional rest. I am so frazzled right now and my nerves are shot because I am not getting quiet consistently. It can't be "once in a while" but you have to build CONSISTENT times in your schedules for alone time and breaks. Burnout is SO HIGH in people professions: social workers, teachers, ministers, etc...Mamas are in the ULTIMATE PEOPLE PROFESSION and must take rest and quiet consistently.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. I have recently put myself into that No "me time" category, thinking it was the right, "christian mother" thing to do. And I am sinking.

I really enjoy Karen Andreola, and have even thought about posting some things on Mother Culture, and did not, for the exact thing you mentioned, being selfish. She puts things in very good, appropriate perspective...which you have helped to share.

I think you'll find that many of us are grateful for your thoughts on this.

Young Mom said...

I used to do the same thing. I grew up hearing that "me-time" was selfish, and I thought that women that needed it were selfish.
I've since discovered that I need times to read a book, or nap, or get out by myself for a bit. And some Moms may need less, or more, or different sorts of things entirely.
Thanks for writing about this. :)

Sandi said...

Great thoughts. My husband takes all the kids to his moms about 3 hours way so I can have a weekend to myself. I do it in September and Jan. for schooling planning and then again mid spring for projects around the house or just chilling out. I had a friend make a comment about having too much time to ones self is bad....and I have struggled with guilt. Silly that I struggle because we are to live life with OUR husband and children .My husband thinks it's a great idea so therefore it is.

Being in nature and quiet gives me the ability to be present when I am with my kids. I have one child who struggles socially and emotionally and takes much out of me. Without some space I think I would explode.

Linda said...

I absolutely agree Andrea. I am in a different season of life, with an empty nest and aging parents and a husband home full-time. I definitely need some "me time" occasionally or I feel as though I will just fly apart.
Right now we are trying to figure out how to care for my parents who both need care in the home. I am having to be practical and realize just how much I can and can't do. There is always that guilt, but I know I just put it on myself. I won't be much good to anyone if I run myself ragged.
I'm so glad you wrote about this.

Natalie said...

, too, have learned from experience that "me time" is necessary. It is not selfish or wrong. Instead, it energizes and revives me for my family. When I do not make the time for me, it becomes apparent in my negative thoughts and actions. Thank you for being brave enough to speak out about your experience! So many Christian women I know make no time for themselves and sometimes I do feel self conscious about it. For me, it has helped to pray about it as I have felt God's "permission" to take care of myself and enjoy how He has made me. I love your ideas about what to do with that time! I may just take my book and read all day sometime soon :)

Maggie Dee said...

I just found your blog through "Three's a Crowd". I am a much better wife/mother when I get "me" time. I figure if Jesus needed "me" time, I need it even more since I'm not God or anything:-)

Glad I found your blog!

Stacy said...

Isn't it sad that guilt (self-induced or others-induced) is out there? As if we should dare admit that we need a BREAK?!?!?

I am all for it. I am a better mama when I have had some solitude, some uninterrupted thoughts, time to journal, pray, listen to music, read a book, have a cup of coffee, take a drive with NO ONE else in the car, take a nap, sew, take a walk, shop, run an errand all by myself, you name it: it is good for you.

debbie bailey said...

I believe that the women who say that Christian women shouldn't take "me" time are puffed up with pride. Just because we're Christians, does that mean we don't get frazzled, tired, and strung out? Absolutely not! We're forgiven, not perfect.

When I had four small children, Monday nights were my time to go to the public library for a couple of hours. Nothing is more restorative for me than just rambling through the stacks and picking out a few books.

I also had to do three things every day for sanity. One was a quiet hour in the morning from 6-7 to read a spiritual book, the Bible, and pray. Two was an afternoon nap, and three was a before bed soak in the tub with a good book. Those things enabled me to keep sane during those hectic and crazy years of homeschooling four little ones.

Oh, and twice a year I'd rent a cabin in the woods for about four days until the buzzing in my head went away and my breathing slowed down again.

I have an extremely sensitive nature and require much alone time.

Linda's comments above were very meaningful to me, because I know that I'm headed to that place where she is now in about ten years or so.

Anonymous said...

Your posts recently about burn out and refreshment have been so encouraging to me. Like you, I used to consider 'me time' a curse word and would never have dreamed of taking time out for selfless, eh? to be all crabby and angry and frustrated doing work for everyone else! Not to mention times of depression, and being completely unable to do any work!

I realized, thru one of your posts, that I experienced real burn out about a year ago and have begun to make strides to heal. It has been wonderful...enjoying Starbucks outings, fresh flowers, and favorite fiction books!! Not to mention dates with my husband.

We are fragile people. We need Jesus and grace, love, rest, and beauty.
Thanks so much for the reminder!

Lisa @ WellGrounded Life said...

Beautiful reflection! I'm coming over from WellGrounded Life as I saw referrals coming in from your site...

Such beautiful insight and I love the Charlotte Mason quote you included...much wisdom there.

Thank you!

Andrea said...

Loved the comments, everyone. Thank you.
Maddie--your comment is exactly why I wanted to write this post: for others to recognize burn-out in themselves! =) thanks for your input.

Anonymous said...

Hi Flourishing Mother,

I've been reading your blog for a long time (about 2 years).

I started reading when I became a new mother and was a stay-at-home mom.

I started to feel a lot like the emotions you posted about.

I had never really felt that way before. Before I had my baby, I worked in my career for 8 years.

Now I've returned to work.

And I have to say, your posts are recurring themes. They're always about finding time for yourself and I noticed you even labeled/tagged the post burn-out.

I'm really curious what your job was before kids? Have you ever thought of going back to work? Either in your previous field or something else?

You seem burned-out and like you have too much time that is taken up by housework and kids, and while that is really rewarding in and of itself, your search for self might be looking for something outside of the home.

Good luck! :)

Children of Eve said...

The quote you have- "would only have courage to let everything go when life becomes too tense, and just take a day, or a half a day, out in the fields, or with a favorite book, or in a picture gallery. . "
This pretty much sums up how I spend a good part of each week. I guess I am a guilt free piddler!

Sarah said...

Hey Andrea,
Found your blog via "A Holy Experience." What a blessing! I really liked/resonated with this post especially and look forward to reading some of your others.