Finding the Me in Mommy
My favourite day dream? Having the whole day to myself. To do what I please – read, laze, work, cook, paint, clean or whatever takes my fancy. To be me. Not wife, mother, employee, friend, housekeeper, cook, driver, psychologist, cleaner, event planner, nutritionist, logistics analyst, interior designer, book keeper or a general maintenance worker. Just me!
Sounds like a luxury. Juggling home, work and toddler makes it seems so. On paper, a couple of hours each day are extremely attainable. And yet, never attained. A study by Families and Work Institute (US), with Real Simple magazine, states that almost one in two women aged 25-54 feels she doesn’t have enough free time. P&G’s Changing Face of Motherhood survey reveals that most mothers have just two to four hours a week to themselves. Only 26 minutes of “me time” in a 24-hour day!
Forget work-life balance, how was I to find this elusive “me time”?
The husband told me how. “You have to find the time,” he said nonchalantly, as he watched a rerun and snacked on cheese. “I can help, we can find help, but only you can find the time,” he said. I looked on incredulously. Here I was, checking email, tending to R, making lists on my smartphone and directing the help while he watched telly. He had some nerve. But over time, I saw his point. I could either keep whining about not having the time or I could work at getting it.
Finding the “me” in “mommy” isn’t an indulgence. Time for me makes me healthy and happy. On the other hand, focusing on everyone else’s needs except mine makes me a lot of things, none of them nice. Think irritable, annoyed, frustrated, stressed, depressed and disappointed. What then holds me back?
I feel guilty putting myself first. Everything else seems to be more important. That’s when I told myself that “me time” is essential – it lets me play multiple roles with more energy and gusto, and keeps me mentally and physically healthy.
Social psychologist Susan Newman, author of The Book of No, feels that a woman’s need to please is so intrinsic that many equate saying no with saying “I don’t care about you”. But saying no to others at times means saying yes to me.
The husband was right. I needed to look, hunt, pillage for the kind of help who would make our life easier. Train them well, and then keep them happy. Delegation at home didn’t come easy, but what works well at the workplace also does at home.
I found that I tend to keep waiting for the right time. When I finish this project, that chore. Meanwhile, I take on another one. Clearly, unless I make time for me, I won’t get any.
Small steps lead to big changes, I know. So my V-Day resolution is to make time for an hour with a book before hitting the bed. What do you plan to do with your “me time”?