Okay, admit it. You’ve had exactly ten minutes of Me Time this week, and that was because you were stuck in traffic and literally forced to stay in one place. I would be willing to bet one of the first things you did when that happened was reach for the mobile, start to thumb through your emails and Facebook messages.
Stop. Put down the phone. (Unless, of course, that’s where you are reading this. Then you can read it, and THEN put down your phone). Just be for a few minutes. Take a few breaths and find something – anything – fun or beautiful or restful to admire for a few seconds. Don’t worry, there is not one single important thing that you are missing. No email is so important that you can’t let it wait until you are actually parking the car. Just be you for a few minutes, without technological intervention.
What is ‘You Time’? This we hear about, over and over, how we should give time to ourselves, focus on only ourselves, and just give the effort to ourselves instead of to our kids, families, jobs, and spouses. I agree, true, all are important; but remember: you deserve time and attention, too.
My friends, those of you in relationships/partnerships/marriages: your relationship deserves the attention, too. You can put it on the back-burner only for so long before it starts to wither a little bit. Relationships should get attention, and loving care, and with both, it will bloom and change as you both grow together. The marriage you have when you first wed is not the same that you have when you first have kids or when you have teenagers. Just like the marriage you have when you have kids is not the same marriage you will have once you have your kids in college and you are retiring. You have to nurture your relationship, adding to it, giving it strength and elasticity as you both grow, mature and change. Kids are amazing and wonderful; they are also attention hogs and can suck your will to live. They are vicious to your marriage; especially when they are younger, they are all about me me me, regardless of how much it causes you, your parenting partner and your relationship with one another to suffer.
So this is a two-part encouragement.
Me time. It doesn’t have to be an organized Me time. It can be 10 minutes in the car, doing deep yoga breathing. It can be a morning run or workout routine. It can be an afternoon walk, or a tea rendezvous with friends. What gives you energy? What gives you an energy boost? What makes your heart hum?
You two time. For your together time, it doesn’t have to be a Date Night. It doesn’t have to be a set outing. It can be a heartfelt conversation about anything-not-kid-related. It can be an hour of shopping together on Amazon for holiday gifts. It can be a trip to the market to look for crafts. Whatever helps you to reconnect and just enjoy each other’s company counts. I know, these moments are so hard to come by when your kids are younger, and so easy to take for granted when the kids aren’t present yet or have already moved out. These are the moments you have to make an effort to focus on, folks, because without them, the reason for the relationship becomes transparent.
We are social being. We are, by nature, giving of our time and energy, especially once we have children. Some may be ‘better’ mothers than others, but generally, we give to those we are rearing. It is not something that we keep track of, nor do we yearn for compensation for our efforts (although, I have to admit, I do warn my children that once they are able, they will indeed be carrying me around on their backs like I carried them. With three strong strapping boys? My feet shouldn’t hit the ground for at least a year or two, once they hit high school. Right?) Seriously, though, the giving just flows. What doesn’t flow, though, is focusing on us, taking time for us, and taking time for our partner. Practice at it, friends, because it is worth the effort for that, too. Giving to you does not take away from giving to your kids. Au contraire, it enhances it.
I am not, by any stretch, saying to ignore your kids. I know you all understand that. What is important is to focus on you, focus on your partner, focus inward in addition to focusing on your kids. They get 100% from you. If you give a little attention to yourself, your 100% will be even more.