Just for Me
Is “Me Time” Selfish? Absolutely!
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Selfish as being “concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself: seeking or concentrating on one's own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others.”
When I began to consider taking time in my day or schedule to do something exclusively for myself I was a single mom with no family to help or care for my child and no partner to assist me. My son, a mere 2 years old at the time, was at the care of a beloved, yet old school Dominican babysitter while I was at work during the day. The thought of my doing anything for myself and leaving him in care of someone else for even more time then I already had been was, well, selfish.
I decided to take advantage of our office’s in-house fitness center and would go after work. I asked the sitter to stay with my son one extra hour so that I could work out. The notion of this baffled her. The judgment and criticism of my selfish act was made clear in more ways than one. I doubted myself and I gave up a few times. I was told my poor child missed me. He wanted to be with me. He needed me!
Yet, I chose instead to be on a treadmill for 40 minutes, an extra 40 minutes longer away from him. Selfish.
It killed me at first: the visions of my poor baby yearning for my arrival, the sitter gossiping with her family members and friends about my self-centered behavior. But the more I worked out, the better I felt both emotionally and physically. I arrived to pick up my child in a stress-free state and with a lesser tendency to be irritable and impatient with my boy. Is that why I did it? No. I did it because I wanted to start dating again. I did it because I wanted to feel attractive the next time the opportunity to have sex came up. Though my working out definitely improved my overall spirits and in essence benefitted my child, the motive was completely selfish. I did it for me.
As mothers we all go through moments when taking time for ourselves is close to impossible, and many more of us struggle with the guilt and challenge to balance keeping everyone else happy while we seek out our own happiness. I say it’s time to embrace being selfish and take those moments for you to enjoy.
Here’s how to get started:
Make a list of all the things that stand in the way Me Time. Carefully list, no matter how big or small, all the things that serve as reasons for you being unable to take time for yourself, whether it be for a walk, a manicure, a workout, or anything else you enjoy.
Once you have made that list find a place for Me Time, knocking other things off the list accepting that in order to be selfish, something has got to give. Maybe the beds won’t get made today, or the family has to eat leftovers or pizza on your Zumba night.
Accept the fact that sometimes Me Time will really only benefit you. My bi-weekly manicures and visits to the hair salon or spa aren’t making my kids better or smarter people and I’m ok with that.
Don’t feel “bad” about wanting to do these things for yourself or allow anyone (including yourself) to make you feel guilty about it. Understand that our overall wellbeing is an important factor in our ability to function and take care of others.
A healthy, happy you makes for a happy, healthy relationship with others. As a working single mom, there was a time that I felt like I had no other role and no escape from the demands put on me. I was constantly depressed. This led to being irritable with my child and losing focus and motivation in other aspects of my life. It can still happen, even as a work-from-home, married mom. Having the Me Time to look forward to each day is enough to make me feel better about myself, more in control of my life, and much more positive overall.
Take your Me Time seriously, make it a constant, and be ready to demand it. If you have a sitter, a partner or someone who you will depend on to make this possible, let them know what your planned schedule is and the time you will need. Talk to your partner about how this is important to you. Demand that your time be respected. My family knows that Mommy has kickboxing at this time, on these days, and it better be something really important that cannot be missed for me to cancel a session.
Be open to giving Me Time in order to get Me Time. Join forces with your friends. Schedule times and days when you can take care of each other’s kids so that the other can have time for herself. In my marriage, I am happy to give my husband the time and space he needs to pursue his own Me Time because he is just as equally happy to do the same for me.
Having time that is all your own has a bigger affect on your spirits than you think. The fact that we are mothers does not automatically mean we lack individual needs that have nothing to do with anyone else. Accept that there is nothing wrong with that. Make a plan and stick to it. As time goes on (and kids get older) it becomes easier to do and you learn that being selfish from time to time is exactly what every mom needs.