Me Time? Self Love? Self Care?
You may have spotted a lot of these phrases floating about lately and YES I am happy about it. I’m glad that we are finally starting to embrace how much we need to look after ourselves because if we don’t then how are we really be able to look after others? For the longest time I thought that wanting some time to myself, to be just me, not to be a friend, daughter, mum, partner or employee was selfish. Especially the mum bit, surely I should want to be a mum all day, every day right? And yes I am of course always a mum and I don’t want to change that but sometimes I don’t want to be in parent mode. I am not ashamed to admit that. I
want NEED time to just be Becky. The 33yr old who still thinks she’s 25yrs old, the one who adores music and dancing around the house when nobody is watching, who often writes and speaks without really thinking too hard on it, who can get completely lost in a book and spends too much time in the bath and who has begun to realise the value of a day to herself. Wanting to be alone doesn’t mean I don’t want to spend time with the people in my life or that I don’t enjoy them being around. In fact having that time to myself makes me more tolerant, more patient and I enjoy time with others more afterwards.
I grew up in a large, noisy family. Noisy because there were so many of us. I shared a bedroom until in my late teens and I was never alone. I loved it and I wouldn’t change my childhood for anything but it is surely one of the reasons it has taken so long for me to comfortable in just my own company.
Me at the end of a recent spa day spent entirely alone, relaxed, refreshed and totally ready to get back to my responsibilities. Ignore the messy hair.
We all need it. And not just parents. Yes, as parents we certainly get less opportunity to indulge in me time but everybody needs it, parent or not. My friend who works ridiculous hours every day and then looks after her elderly parents, she needs me time. My friend who works so hard on his work goals that he probably finds it hard to switch off, he needs me time. Neither of them have children so why can’t they just have time for themselves whenever they want right? Because children aren’t the only commitment people have. Work, relationships,family and friends – they are all commitments. I feel a little uneasy when I see articles that heavily focus on the fact that parents are the only ones in need of a break, or that we are the only ones who really understand what tired means because it simply isn’t true.
I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self indulgent, caring for myself is an act of survival – Audre Lorde
We cannot nurture others from a dry well. we need to take care of our own needs first, then we can give from our surplus, our abundance – Jennifer Louden
I am more tired now than I was pre kids, that is a fact but that is not to say I am more tired than my friend who works 10 hour shifts 5 or 6 days a week. It is a different kind of tired, mainly as it’s constant but you can be tired without children and you can admit to that without having to explain it by saying well.. it was the baby you know.
But without a baby or toddler to use as an excuse what are you needing an escape from? Life. You need an escape from life. From the absolutely huge daily pressures we all have on us each and every day. Maybe you work in the coolest office and you have the best job that you love, you still need a break from it. Maybe you have an amazing relationship and you are deeply in love, you still need time apart. Time alone is what you need. Everybody needs time alone. To focus, to not think about anyone or anything else but you…and let me just reiterate – THAT is not selfish. It’s necessary in more ways than you can imagine.
As you get older you lose chunks of your identity. You become mum, dad, girlfriend,boyfriend, wife, husband, employee, boss and more. You start to forget parts of who you are. I wish I had realised this sooner. One day a year or so ago I randomly ended up with a day alone and I felt lost. I didn’t know what to do with myself, I struggled to remember how I liked to spend time by myself and then it struck me that I hadn’t really spent a significant chunk of time ( more than a few hours ) completely alone in years. Now I can spend a day alone and feel like it was time well spent, I feel restored, and although as a mum I do still feel slightly guilty for saying that I love being alone, I feel far less so than if you had asked me last year. You cannot pour from an empty cup.
I think it’s very healthy to be alone. You need to know how to be alone – Oscar Wilde
In fact I even considered a solo cinema trip last week, not because I don’t have anyone to go with as luckily I have a whole group of people who love films as much as I do in my life but because I fancied seeing a film that maybe not everyone would have and just wanted to do it on the spur of the moment. I didn’t end up going but I think I will at some point, I used to feel sorry for people alone in the cinema but now I see that they just wanted to see that film, maybe nobody else did or maybe just maybe they wanted that time.
Me time always brings images to my head of a long bubble bath with a book but really it is no longer that to me, I do that when the girls are in bed at night anyway – that is part of my routine. For me, me time is not at home, not where I constantly feel I should be at my desk or cooking or cleaning. I enjoy bouts of travelling alone, a long walk around the park, time at a spa, or out for food or coffee alone – and that is something that used to scare me.
Photo credit: Kari Shea
Eating alone? Well that’s just weird isn’t it? Nope. It is wonderful. Perks include not having to share your cake and spending as long as you want nursing that cup of coffee. I mean I don’t want to do it everyday, I love company, thrive on it actually but I also like silence and you know what? I am finally understanding that my own company is pretty good and I like being with myself. During that time I come up with recipe ideas, thoughts for blog posts, I plan trips in my head or just think about how one day I am so going to cook with Jamie Oliver. I don’t use that time to consciously work but often it breaks open that creative thinking mode which is so hard to force. Is it also a real cliche to say that at the grand old age of 33 I feel I am still finding out who I am and what I want to do with my life? I’m the only person who can figure that out and time just by myself helps with important choices that I make.
Do you take time for yourself?