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 (as an aside, our traffic has been almost unbearable; talk about having a lot of unexpected-and-unplanned-for time on my hands! Yay for BBC and podcasts!). I would be willing to bet if you’re stuck in a long queue or in traffic, one of the first things you did when that happened was reach for your mobile, start to thumb through your emails and Facebook messages. May as well reduce that inbox, right?
Stop. Put down the phone. (Unless, of course, that’s where you are reading this. Then you can read it, and after that, put down your phone). Try this instead: Just be for a few minutes. Take a few breaths and find something – anything – fun or beautiful or restful to admire for a few minutes. 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 or called up to the window. Just be you for a few minutes, without technological intervention. Appreciate where you are, appreciate what is around you, and take a few breaths. Those uninterrupted moments are like a gift unto themselves.
What is ‘You Time’? This is a thing 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 know, all of our family members are important; but remember: you deserve time and attention, too.
Also, as important as your family members all are, and as vital as Me Time is, 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 regular doses of 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 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. They do not do this to hurt you, or impair your relationship; instead this is what babies do to survive. And they are so very cute when they do it so likely you are not even noticing that you’ve not taken a shower for 2 days and that the pile of dishes in the sink is growing its own biome.
This is a two-part encouragement/reminder about a gift you can (and should) give yourself and one you can give to your relationship.
Gift for you: 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. Invest the time to know for certain: What gives you energy? What gives you an energy boost? What makes your heart hum? What makes you happy? Know these answers and commit time to each in your week (in your calendar in ink).
Gift for your relationship: (Adult only) 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 couple episodes of your show-of-the-moment. 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 starts to dissipate.
We are social beings. 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 (and really, what does ‘better’ mean anyway? There is no one definition). 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.