Getting more from your 'me time'
Angela has an addiction. There's one thing that she always craves, but if she gets a little bit of it, she just wants more. And more. And more.
Angela has three young children and she is addicted to time. More particularly, she's hooked on 'me time': a precious hour when she shuts the door and does her sewing, or goes online and chats with friends, or writes in her journal. All perfectly reasonable things to desire, except that her craving for that time erodes her joy in her life. When she comes back from 'me time', everything else just seems a bit duller, dirtier and drearier. And even more than before, she wants more time to herself, to escape from the rest of her life.
Time to yourself can rare when you have young children. Some days it's an achievement to go to the toilet without a child hanging off each arm.
Everyone's 'me time' is different. For you it might be:
- Going to the gym
- Seeing a movie
- Reading a book
Just snatching a nap can be pure bliss for a sleep-deprived parent.
Are you being ripped off by the concept of 'me-time'?
Is it possible, though, that parents are being ripped off by the whole 'me time' thing? As soon as you designate an hour a day or a week as your special time, you are immediately labeling all the rest of your hours as not yours. Straight away it's easy to feel cheated by the weensy wedge of the cake that is on your plate.
Thinking that time is something you own and can portion out – one hour for me, one for you – can lead to misery. Parents need to make time for activities that give them pleasure – whether it's staying under the doona on Sunday morning or taking a walk and smelling the flowers. But as soon as you call it 'me time', it suddenly seems to be a small slice of life.
It's not selfish to take time to re-energise or to claim time for things that make your heart sing. But if you've got a hole in your heart, an hour of 'me time' isn't going to fill it. You need to go deeper.
How do you have more 'me time'?
The solution is not about escaping from our lives, but plunging in more deeply than ever before.
Here are some ways to make the whole day feel like 'me time':
- Use your first cup of coffee, tea or water in the morning as your cue to be here now. Don't do anything else – no planning, no reading, no television and, if possible, no talking. Just be.
- Buy or pick flowers and put them in your home. Even a cluster of leaves from the garden will soothe and lift your senses.
- Notice beauty around you and take a moment to breathe it in: a graceful tree in your garden, the light shining through your window, the soft curve of your toddler's arm.
- Set up a 'me box' and fill it with things that make your heart soar: a beautiful photograph, your journal, a memento from a special time. Make it part of your routine each morning or evening to take a few minutes meditating on the contents.
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