When Does It Become Too Much “Me” Time?

Last week was shit. No other way to put it. My week started with a text message from a friend telling me that she heard a local girl committed suicide. Broke my heart, left me concerned for my students and my family, and just really put a damper on the week in so many ways. When I hear stories like that, especially close to home, I have a hard time putting them from my mind. I wish I could help more than to think about and pray for the family members and friends. I wish I could make all people see that their lives are worth living. But that’s another story altogether.

The week continued, with this 80-degree, stormy summer-like weather in Florida. Gray skies. Dreary. And it affected my mood. Certain nights, I didn’t feel like leaving the house. I just wanted to cuddle with my son. My husband is an awesome cheerleader, though, and he reminded me every night that I should go to the gym to exercise because I always feel better and stronger after working out.

So I did.

And I got to thinking about my routine since I began this lifestyle change 5 months ago and carved out more “me time.” I take my son out of his crib around 6:45 a.m. and give him over to my husband who puts him in the car—usually asleep—to take him to my mother-in-law’s. Usually, I pick him up around 3 p.m. This week, however, I attended meetings every day after school hours, some longer than others, and most days, got to my son around 4:00. Today in particular, I picked him up and got home around 4:15, only to turn around and leave for the gym at 4:45. Got to the gym at 5, did 20 minutes on the elliptical, then went to my 45-minute Butts and Guts class. Got home with my son around 7 p.m.

I missed a lot of play time.

I missed his dinner.

Thankfully, he doesn’t do bath/book/milk until around 8:30 and he falls asleep around 9-9:30 so I get some extra play and snuggle time. But really? I had a shocking realization that no one will be awarding me the Mother of the Year award. I may have spent a total of 2 hours with my son, not because of doctor appointments or work constraints. But because I chose me. And since I exercise daily, this lack of mommy/son time has become routine.

Yes, I feel good. Yes, I deserve “me time.” Yes, it benefits my family if I exercise, stay in shape, eat right, and set a good example for my son. But am I doing right by my son by taking more time away from him?

Last week, I left school on Friday and decided to get a pedicure. I hadn’t had one in a while and I just needed to relax and be off my feet. But that evil word crept up at me: guilt.

Why am I here? I kept asking myself. I should be with my son. I already take hours upon hours a week to work out. Now I’m adding it to pamper myself? I’m so selfish.

Then I rationalize. Well, it’s the weekend. I’ll just spend extra time with him tomorrow morning. We’ll have breakfast together, watch Bubble Guppies, play with trains and chill.

Then a few minutes later, I go back to guilt. Does this mean I’m only truly being a mom on weekends? What kind of mom does that make me? What happens when I go to the Christmas party on Saturday night? Now I’m not a mom on the weekends either?

And the cycle continues.

Please tell me you’ve been there. How do you balance relationship time, work time, “me” time, and motherhood time?

15 Comments

  • Katie says:

    I have to be honest…reading this just made me long for me time…any me time. I don’t get out alone AT ALL unless I volunteer to do the grocery shopping on Saturday. Because I work with over 150 teenagers that need me, then go home to two little boys who need me (and only me while daddy has been pursuing his degree), it’s been over a year since I got a pedicure and more than that since I’ve been to the gym.

    It definitely affects my mental and physical health, but I don’t know how to go about getting “me” time without cutting out more sleep…which I already don’t get enough of.

    So I say you are doing the right thing. Besides, you are a teacher. You have MUCH more time home with your son than most working moms. Remember that. He is lucky…he gets working mom AND stay at home mom. Just depends on the time of year :)
    Katie recently posted..The Year of the Frisky Santa and Freckled LemonadeMy Profile
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    • Shannon says:

      I know I’m fortunate that my husband is available and that I have shorter work hours, but the guilt is the same. Also, I’m in the process of beginning an adjunct position with an online school which will mean I work full-time throughout the summers. It’s a lot to think about because I want my son to remember quality time with me more than I want to remember having time to myself.

  • Mandy says:

    I have a ten month old daughter and struggle to find time for fitness. By the time I get home from work we have two hours before bedtime. In that time we have dinner and bath (most nights). I was going to a Barre class but that limited me to about 45 minutes with her. I think I am going to try an at home workout I can do after she is asleep. Or get back into running and put that Bob to good use. It’s all such a balancing act.

  • Courtney says:

    You are speaking my language. I work full-time with 3 little ones all under the age of 4. IT often takes us an hour to get home in the evenings, 40 minutes in the mornings and then when we are home I nurse the little one while my husband gets dinner on the table. It’s frantic. And if I think too long about how little time I am actually spending with them during the week, I would be a wreck. I am currently not working out, but once I sleep through the night again, I plan on doing it in the evenings after the crew is in bed or early in the mornings. I worry that they will look back and feel like they didn’t have enough time with me. Weekends are busy–I want to keep friendships, but how to balance that and making up for lost time with the kids? It’s hard. It’s chaotic, but the truth is, I have to work, so I have no choice. I am trying to make the time we do have quality–no tv in the evenings was first. Now I tell stories in the car on the way home to keep them engaged and us interacting instead of the whine/frustration dance of when will we be home? I feel for you. I do.
    Twitter: hismamasdrama

  • Tracy says:

    What about a happy medium? Find some workouts to do at home. That’s what I do. All the weight I’ve lost has been without a gym membership. And that way, you can get a workout in, and not have to deal with travel time perhaps a couple days a week. When I start running again, I’ll be leaving the house for workouts, but all my other workouts are done at home. I still think it’s important to get away and have me time that involves not being in your house if you can, but maybe it will help your guilt if you found a different kind of balance :)
    Twitter: wa_tracy

    • Shannon says:

      I can’t believe you lost all that weight (and are still losing) without a gym membership! I really thrive on the classes and the motivation of the friends I go to the gym with on certain nights. But you’re right! Everything is about balance. The other night I actually tried a workout video at home for the first time, and two days this week I took my son to the park and walked a mile with the stroller. I think now that I have reached my goal weight, I need to build in that time to balance the time I do have to drive/be away for classes. Or maybe focus on weekend classes :)
      Shannon recently posted..Unpaid Maternity Leave and Human RightsMy Profile

  • Mary Beth says:

    and thus you’ve hit on the reason i’ve put off working out, other than walking during breaks at work. but let me tell you, i’ve been there….. days when ‘me time’ just felt like ‘guilt time’. i think what i did was evaluate that feeling….. then do what i needed to do to balance myself again. life is constant flux.
    Mary Beth recently posted..A Syndicated Article on BlogHer!My Profile
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  • Mandy says:

    I can so relate to this post and all the comments. This is how I feel every day. We had a pretty good routine going with 1 kid but adding the 2nd one has made it even harder to balance everything. I work out after bedtime a couple nights a week and during naptime on the weekend. We bought work out equipment for our house and that made a huge difference. Jillian’s 30 day Shred dvd is great and requires nothing but hand weights. I’m still working on how to fit friendships (I’m making do with phone calls and emails during my time in the pumping room at work), and time with my husband (just not happening), and any kind of “me time” (if I find any of this I spend it sleeping). But the holidays are almost here, so we’ll all get to enjoy extra time with the kiddos next week!

  • I think you have to go with your gut on this. Sometimes the me time makes sense, even when there’s lots of it. Sometimes you realize that, whoa, I miss my kid in the middle of something otherwise fun and you shift the balance for a while. It’s all about flexibility!
    Christa the BabbyMama recently posted..A Memory of Christmas from Long, Long AgoMy Profile
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  • Observacious says:

    This is such a great topic. It is so hard to find the right balance, but I think the thing we should all be focusing on long term balance not any given day or week. Some days or weeks (or even months or–for people taking on things like grad school–years) will be more for us and less for our kids just as some time periods will have a lot of kid time with very little me time. The key is trying to make sure that over the long run you get enough “me time” to feel like there is a you and not just a mom, but that you spend enough time with your son to nurture that bond. Sadly there is no hard answer like “you get x hours of me time per week.” We all have to feel our way to what is right, and we have to try to do get over the guilt in order to do that.
    Observacious recently posted..List 25: Uber List for 2013My Profile
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