Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Me time

Mama Baby Bliss conducted a survey recently on how much time mums get for themselves. The elusive Me Time that is much discussed in ante- and post-natal classes, toddler mornings and round the school gate was found to be fairly rare with 93.6% of mums wishing they had more time to pamper themselves.

I remember when I was pregnant with R, reading books and magazines that all emphasised the need for Me Time. My attitude then was wonder at how any mum could be so selfish as to want time away from their children. I couldn’t understand at all how anyone would choose a long bath over a cuddle with their baby, or a massage over a game of hide-and-seek with their toddler. Of course, then I still had plenty of Me Time; more than I’d had before, because I was cutting back on my working hours and C was doing extra housework. I could lie in the bath reading my pregnancy magazines and have leisurely lunches with my sister.

Little did I know what was to come. I still recall my first bath after coming home from hospital, where I had been stuck for a week waiting for SCBU to release R. I lay there, soaking my stitches, reading a book and sipping the hot tea that C had brought me. I stayed there for a whole hour without any interruptions. C was sitting downstairs with R, who wasn’t crying or needing to be fed. What luxury. And it really, really was, because that was the last uninterrupted bath I had for a long, long time.

After that, they were always interrupted by a hungry baby, or a clingy baby, or a tired baby. A baby who would not settle without her mum. Sometimes she would be undressed and handed to me, so I could feed her in the bath (a rather weird experience, as I recall); sometimes I had to get out and feed her back to sleep, still dripping water, then jump back in to rinse the conditioner off my hair; sometimes I had to just get out and give up on the bath altogether.

Over the last nine months or so, I have been able to have more soaks in the bath, especially since R started going to bed at a reasonable time. And over the next seven months, I will make sure I have at least one a week, if not two. Because come October, they will again be a scarce commodity in this house.

As will Me Time of other sorts, I’m sure. But the trick, I have found, is to change your ideas of Me Time:

  • Work hours are Me Time now. I quite often manage to watch some DVDs or listen to music while I work, so that it can feel relaxing. And, for the most part, I enjoy my work and it allows me to be creative and have a few hours when I can be someone other than Mummy.
  • Ironing is Me Time now. I can watch TV and not feel guilty about it (seems to be a theme, here!).
  • When R was a baby, breast-feeding was Me Time. I read books or watched TV (again with the TV!).
  • Going round to a friend’s house for coffee is and was Me Time. I still have to supervise or had to breastfeed, bounce, tickle… but I get my gossip and chat in.
  • Pushing a buggy round the park or the shops was Me Time, especially if R was asleep. Lots of time to think and dream.
  • And… I’m just remembering why I didn’t get the broken dishwasher repaired or replaced for a whole year. Washing up was Me Time. I put a CD on loud and danced around the kitchen, losing myself in the music and my dreams and memories. (Though probably won't be breaking this one any time soon!)

But if someone wants to pay for me to go and get my hair done, or have a massage or a leg wax, I wouldn’t say no.

And for Mother’s Day? All I want is someone else to get R up and get her dressed and give her breakfast, while I lie in bed reading a book and drinking a cup of tea.


  1. I look back at my maternity leave when I was pregnant with my first child and almost cry with envy -- all that alone time! all the people waiting on me! all the time to soak and read and eat, uninterrupted! Absolute bliss.

    My husband asked what I wanted for Mother's Day and suggested a nice cooked breakfast and then a day out with the family. My response? No way, I want a day on my own! I felt so selfish and guilty for saying that but it's true. I want nothing more than alone time, I crave it like an alcoholic craves vodka or beer.

  2. Ah, alone time - that's the true gift for a busy mother, isn't it? I'm not very good at sitting and doing nothing, and the nicest thing about tandem feeding the girls was that it was an entire hour when I absolutely had to sit with my feet up (and my breasts out, admittedly, which isn't how I usually watch Eastenders).

  3. You've got to grab it when you can! I can't remember a day when I could just sit still. There's always something that needs to be done, and then something else, and something else...

  4. NS: I had a friend who warned me that I should milk the first pregnancy for all I could get, as that was the last pregnancy pampering I would get. I wish I'd listened! A whole day alone? Now that would be nice.

    MTJAM: I had a friend who had twins, and she used to take her top off to feed them (at home, of course). She was slouching back on the sofa tandem feeding and watching TV, when the front door opened and her dad walked in. He never walked in without knocking again!

    Rosie: And something else...

  5. I like the idea of changing your definition to suit your circumstances. Very positive thinking.

  6. i have to agree with your idea for mothers day, i too would love for someone else to get all my 4up whilst i sit in bed with tea and breakfast and a good book. Then after an hour or so they can all join me on my bed and we can snuggle lol! x

  7. Iota: Thanks. I am generally a pretty positive person, though I can have my moments!

    Amy: With four of them, having a lie in is probably even more of a luxury! Hope you get one on Sunday.