Tag Archives: me-time

Can you spend too much time with your kids?

Real Simple magazine recently reported that as of 2010, mothers (working and SAHMs) spend an average of fourteen hours a week on childcare—up from ten hours a week in 1965.

To which I say, um, what?

I realize I might be in the most time-intensive phase of parenting right now, where I still have young children at home, but I spend nearly fourteen hours a day with my children. And even if I my children were older and I were working, I would still have at least four hours a day in their presence on weekdays, and at least that on weekends.

I’m guessing (slash hoping) “child care” here means more than just “spending time with your child,” since I also have a hard time imagining mothers in 1965 shunting their children off for all but 85 minutes a day. I’m not “caring” for my children every single second of the day, but I’m still mothering them, whether the TV is on, whether they’re playing in the backyard, whether I’m on the computer—I’m on the clock, doling out food and punishments and advice. (So how is that not child care?)

But according to the Real Simple article, even two hours a day of caring for your own children is too much:

One study suggested that children who are the center of their parents’ universes may grow up to become more neurotic adolescents. The Free Range Kids movement, started by author Lenore Skenazy, has gained traction by advocating for unstructured and less-supervised play. Elisabeth Badinter, author of The Conflict, suggests that motherhood need not be a full-time profession. “Some parents believe that a good mother puts her child’s needs before everything else—and that’s not healthy,” says Badinter. Nor does it make us the best role models. After all, if our ultimate goal is to have our kids find personal fulfillment, perhaps we should lead by example: By putting ourselves at the top of our own to-do lists.

Wait, seriously? Somehow we’re saying that spending more than an hour and a half a day caring for your child is not only making them the center of your universe and putting yourself last, but also creating neuroses and makes us bad role models?

I think we’re conflating several very different things: taking care of our children, spending time with them and not making ourselves a priority. A very young child will not be able to tell the difference, but I would hope that an adult could. The difference isn’t something you measure in minutes: it’s measured in a mother’s mindset.

Yes, my children are my top priority and the biggest segment of my day right now. Honestly, whether you’re working or staying at home—heck, whether your children are infants or adults—if your child really needed you, would you say, “Oh, honey, I’m having my me time. I’ll help you with that impending peril/broken arm/unplanned pregnancy during your allotted two hours”? Is that really the way to be a good example of personal fulfillment?

Yes, we want our children to find personal fulfillment, and (obviously, I hope) we all want to find that ourselves. HOWEVER, I personally feel that exemplifying personal nirvana isn’t the main goal of full-time parenting. I have taken charge of my children’s formative years because I want to teach them the most important things in life—how to treat other people, the way to find true happiness (hint: it’s not by focusing only on yourself!), and the things we believe that will take them there—and that’s important enough to me to be willing to put in the time necessary to accomplish it.

A mother finding fulfillment in motherhood—in life—can put herself neither first nor last. Her children’s needs will come before hers quite regularly because she recognizes the level of commitment motherhood warrants, but she’s not going to forgo all meals until her children are independent, successful and grown.

She does model someone who sets personal goals, always learning, and devotes personal time to her own sanity and development. But she manages to do that in a very careful balance, managing her priorities and most of all her children and their physical and emotional needs. And importantly (to me), she looks for that personal fulfillment in the time she spends with (and caring for) her children, too. It is never easy, but it is worth it.

What do you think? What’s the difference between spending time with your children and “child care”? Can you spend too much time with your children?

Photo credits: watching timer—me!; multitasking dad—Henrik Betnér

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S is for sigh!

It’s that feeling when the kids are settled at naps or bedtime—that release when you know you have some time to yourself (even if you’ll probably fritter it all away).

The first thing I do is think about what I want to get done. The second thing is to get on the computer and promptly not do it. (Note to self: time to reread your post on getting off the computer!)

When do you sigh—and what’s the first thing you do?

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Guest Post: Taking Time for Your Child’s Biggest Fan: You

The lunches are packed, the children are doing their homework and you’re wondering, “What else needs to be done?” These moments are perfect for stealing a little time just for you. Pick a 5, 10 or 15 minute solution or create your own.

  • In five minutes, you can wipe off a small to-do list item and get real gratification and calm knowing it’s complete. For example, as thank-you notes or birthday greetings pile up, steal five minutes to write your loved one a nice card. Doing this will remind you of what really matters and at the same time relieve some of the pressure that can come with a growing list of to-do’s.
  • Stealing 10 minutes to catch up with a friend on the phone can be very relaxing and give you a chance to feel connected, understood and considered. Be sure to manage expectations among your family members and let them know in advance that you are taking a private phone call with a friend you haven’t spoken to in awhile.
  • 15 minutes of me-time can do a whole lot of good for the mind and body. Try escaping to a quiet room and read your favorite book. Make this time truly special, nurture yourself with a cup of your favorite tea and snuggle up in your favorite chair under a warm light.

It might not sound like very much, but taking an “all-about-you” timeout from deadlines, carpools and after-school activities will give you more energy when homework and nighttime routines demand your full attention. Remember, taking care of yourself is taking care of your family too. You will feel relaxed, refreshed and ready to help your children with any challenges they are having, personally or academically.

This is a guest post from Kumon, the world’s largest after-school math and reading enrichment program that unlocks the potential of children so they can achieve more on their own. Connect with them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kumon or Twitter at www.twitter.com/KumonNAmerica.

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Motherhood: it’s not about you

Ever notice when someone says you’re being selfish, what they really mean is “You’re not thinking about ME?”

Yeah. So, while we talk a lot and focus a lot here (and lots of other places, naturally) on what it means to be a mother, how hard it is to be a mother and so on and so forth, somehow, we often seem to miss the real “why” of motherhood.

I know this is pretty obvious, but we’re mothers because we have children, and because we care about them. That’s the long and the short of it—that’s why it’s easy (they’re ours), and that’s why it’s hard (we care).

Now, I know when I say this, many of you will think, “Oh, but kids already think they’re the center of the universe. They need to see that they’re not!” I agree—children, especially those with SAHMs, grow up with someone around who might seem to them to exist only to fulfill their nutritional and entertainment needs.

But when I want to demonstrate, for example, that they’re not the center of the universe by taking excessive time for myself to their detriment, am I really teaching them not “You’re not the center of the universe,” but “I am?”

I don’t know. It’s a hard question to even state, since that’s seldom the problem with me time (usually the problem is that we martyr-mothers don’t take enough). And certainly there are other, better, healthier ways to teach our children to respect and value other people and their time.

What do you think? Are children too much the center of a mother’s universe? Which is the lesser of two evils: focusing too much on our children’s needs or focusing too much on our own? How do you find a balance?

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January Group Writing Project Finale

Happy Super Tuesday. I presume (though this may not be a sure thing) that we in the US will find out some important winners today, so I figured I’d give another winner a reason to celebrate. But first, we all get a reason to celebrate (or at least commiserate). The January Group Writing Project was all about “Me Time.” With 21 great entries, we have a wonderful array of solutions, discussions and pleas for help waiting for your eyes and your comments.

Now, feel free to spread the link love by copying the above list (instructions) and posting it to your own blog. Believe me—they all deserve it (and some serious “me time”).

The Winna!
Chosen at random the winner of our prize, a $30 Amazon.com gift certificate, is <drum roll>…

Me Time! by Joleene Libby

Congratulations, Joleene, on not only winning the gift certificate (again, she was chosen at random!) but also on participating in a GWP for the first time! The gift certificate will be winging its way to you soon!


Still working on your entry? Even though we’ve awarded our prize, we’ll continue to accept, read, link to and comment on submissions through next week.

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Me time for moms

I think that “me time” is really important for mothers. I think most mothers would readily agree—in fact, I think that most mothers have so little downtime that we’re desperate for that one little minute we can claim as our own. And we’ll take it wherever we can get it.

Though it’s easy to look back and think that I haven’t really had any “me time” since my son was born, I know that isn’t the case. There was a while there where I got in the habit of getting up at 7, while Hayden suddenly began sleeping in until 8 or 9. I could get a jump start on work, I could write something great on MamaBlogga (well, as great as I get), I could read my favorite blogs, and not have to worry about my personal projects until Hayden went down for a nap.

And then he started waking up at 6:45.

When Hayden still took three naps, I had up to 5.5 hours to myself during the day—plenty of time to get lots of work done and spend time straightening up the house and doing things I wanted to do. Of course, as soon as I came to rely on this, Hayden stopped taking his third nap. After a while, two naps came to be more than adequate.

And then, of course, he was down to one, which has been whittled away until some days it’s not even enough to get all my work done. (Let’s not even discuss the normal state of disarray the house is in!)

But then there’s the other side of the coin—the special occasions where I get to go out (or stay home) without my family. And feel guilty or simply miss my family.

While I spend much of my time wishing for regular “me time,” I don’t know what I’d do if I took it!

Edited to add: as I read through your wonderful entries, I realized that “In my opinion, anything that helps you to feel recharged, happy and more or less ready to take the next onslaught of life’s challenges counts as ‘me time.'” This definition is much broader than what many of us think of—pampering, relaxation, etc. But this is what I’m looking for in “me time.”

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