Scrolling Instagram while sitting on the toilet doesn't count. You need to be out of sight of your children, and your children need to be genuinely out of mind. "Me-time" for mothers is a simple concept, but somehow impossible to attain, located as it is beyond a lake of guilt, through a maze of competing interests (no one owns their time anymore), and across a vast trench of responsibility (your children). But experts say that you need a break. A real one.
"I hate that this is a question or something we need to negotiate or plan," says my friend Erin, a mom of two in New York. "How many times do you think dads are asked how they find me-time?" Good ol' Erin: bringing the feminist realness since we were freshman in college. Of course she's absolutely right, but the fact remains that many moms find it hard to find space for ourselves, to which I say "Grab it and take it because it's YOURS." Can the logistics be challenging? Of course. Sitters are expensive and everyone has stuff going on, but one thing that should never be a concern is whether you are entitled to me-time. Whether you need to be alone in nature or at bar with your friends, you do not need permission to take a piece of your life for yourself.
Lots of the moms I spoke with did find it difficult to carve out time to attend to our physical, emotional, and social well-being while others have happily found a groove. Here's what 19 of them had to say.
"My daily me-time is working out. I stick an iPad in front of my 3-year-old and enjoy 30 minutes of (almost) uninterrupted bliss. And since she only gets the iPad when mommy is working out or during long trips, it’s a win-win. When my husband’s been traveling a lot and I need to get away, I’ll get a hotel room for a night, read, watch trashy TV, order room service, and sleep in."
"I get away once a week around bedtime for my pole fitness class. It's just part of our routine. After dinner, I bathe the baby, then set my daughter up with Disney+. My husband takes over from there. It's so nice to come home and have them be asleep already!"
"Me time? Eight years later and this still isn't happening. But, it is actually one of my New Year resolutions."
"I send the kiddos to grandma’s once a week for a few hours so my husband and I can go hiking and/or fishing. It’s me-time but also us-time that is so needed."
"I make a point to get to the gym four to five days a week while the older kids are in school and I just have the baby. I feel slightly guilty sticking the baby in the gym daycare, but honestly, that one hour for myself makes me a better mom and human."
"I don't need to be alone to have 'me time' - nights away with my husband, annual trip with girlfriends, yoga class with my friend are all ways that I recharge my batteries away from motherhood."
"On a weekly basis my me-time is my workout class twice a week. My friends are in it with me and so I get the social and physical aspects and it really recharges me. I also go to the farmers' market alone every Sunday, which I love. Otherwise girl trips and date nights. I’m an extrovert so being social really recharges me."
That one hour for myself makes me a better mom and human.
"With the exception of last year when I had a squishy baby, I've done an annual girls' weekend full of laughter and wine that has been a fantastic and fun way to recharge. Other than that, when I get myself into a workout schedule, that's some of the best me-time I find on a regular basis. Not only do I have that time to myself, but also when I stick to it, it makes everything else seem more manageable. Also, twice a week I drive my 9-month-old to my parents so they can watch her while I'm at work, and those drives — albeit short — are mini me-moments where I can drink coffee and sing along to whatever I want and it's wonderful."
"I go to the gym four times a week and I really feel that it is even more beneficial to my mental well-being than my physical. My husband and I both value the time the other takes to immerse ourselves in our hobbies, so a few times a month, he has dates with the kids, so I can do my hobbies and get out with friends and I do the same for him."
"At the moment, with 5-year-old twins, a 2-month-old, and a full-time job? Shower treats. Don’t underestimate the power of a mini bag of M&Ms or a glass of wine in the shower."
"2020 is me reclaiming my time. I get my nails done once a week which is about 90 minutes because I get a massage; I plan a social activity without hubs every month; husband and I have a once a month date night — more if my mom is staying with us. When we travel as a family, husband and I run away for a few nights and leave the kids with family."
"My Saturday morning workouts which are possibly the only time they aren’t on my mind and I'm only focusing on myself for an entire hour of my life."
"I take time to read or work on puzzles with a glass of wine a couple times a week and it's delightful. I also try to meet up with friends for lunch, go on walks with our dog, and have been known to turn my Target runs into me time by going alone and taking my sweet time."
"Yearly girls trip, frequent date nights, frequent girls' night out, and while [my youngest] is in preschool four days a week, I get three blissful hours a day! I spend that time walking a trail by our home, I find being outside to do so much for me mentally as well as physically. I meet friends for coffee and go shopping. It’s so recharging!"
"My parents and my mother-in-law live nearby and are always willing to take the kids for a few hours (and often overnight). When they do, I love to take a long walk with the dog and listen to podcasts, take an in-person yoga class, work in my garden, or read and nap. I have three high-energy kids and I'm a better mom when I take care of myself and take time to recharge."
"I try to get up really early. Like between 4:30 and 5:00 so I can have the morning to myself before the girls get up. My three year old will sleep until 8:30, but the baby gets up at all different times right now. Otherwise, I just try to shut myself in the bedroom when my husband gets home — but that usually only lasts about five minutes before I'm found."
"I started a monthly 'Wine Club' night. The last Friday of every month we go to a wine bar or bar-with-wine. I've invited all the women I know and some months we have three of us and others we'll have 10. But by making it the same night every month it allows people to plan ahead."
"Oh geez! Me time huh? I went to Dublin for three nights alone last year! That was my me time! But I try to take extra long showers sometimes and I get my nails done for my time."
My Friend Erin Who I Mentioned Earlier
"Divorce is the best way to find me-time. I have one less child to clean up for. My second marriage provided me sleep-in time, because if his ass wants to enjoy the pleasure of my company then he does equal if not more work than me! Glad I figured it out the second time! 'Happy mom, happy everyone' is the motto in our home."