Is ‘me time’ necessary for parents?

I have been thinking recently about time away from kids – perhaps because soon we will have another small baby and child free time will be extremely rare and a lot more difficult to coordinate! We are lucky enough to have lovely family members who will look after our little munchkin when B and I have somewhere we want to go without him. Especially as he got older and I didn’t need to breastfeed him so frequently (and then weaned him) it’s been easy enough to leave him with grandparents for a few hours while we have a meal with friends or go out for afternoon tea. He has a good relationship with both sets of grandparents and they are all local to us so it’s great to have that option.

However, we had never spent a whole night away – and actually Daddy still hasn’t! But I was invited to a good friend’s hen do (a weekend away in Norfolk) and decided I didn’t want to miss it. The truth is he doesn’t really need me the way he did when he was tiny so there really wasn’t any reason not to go! I opted to go just for one night so that B didn’t have to take a whole weekend off work (and to ease myself in gently as jumping from 5 hours to 48 felt too much!!).

Almost bald, blond 16 month old walking along a big path. The photograph is taken from behind him. He is wearing a grey hoody and blue jeans and is mid-step. You can see his shadow clearly too.
I think as this one gets older and more independent I might have to get used to us spending time apart!

I left Saturday morning at 9.30am and I have to say waving goodbye to my little man in the car was a bit emotional! I’ll blame those hormones for that though. I got back on Sunday afternoon at about 5pm and I was very happy to see my little family. TM had been at home and out and about with Daddy so of course he was totally fine, although he was chuffed to see me again! I imagine some of you reading this will be thinking that you’d never leave your 16 month old overnight, while others will be surprised that I even considered it a big deal. We all have different things we are comfortable with – and of course not everybody has the option of leaving their kids with family members or babysitters.

I think it’s pretty natural that I found it strange being apart from TM, though. I carried him inside me for 9 months, fed him myself for 14 months and generally spend all day (and half the night, little bed invader!) every day with him. So while I missed him, I did actually enjoy the time away. It was so relaxing and a novelty to just be Ellen again, rather than Mummy. I was well looked after too so I didn’t even have to cook for myself and I think the extent of my ‘work’ for the weekend was washing up a few plates and cups! It was a great group of women and we were in a lovely, pretty setting and the weather was gorgeous, so all in all I truly appreciated the ‘break’.

The view over a lake. It is a clear, sunny day. There are lots of trees around the water and a blue sky with a few white clouds. There's also a small fishing boat near the edge of the water.
One of the gorgeous lakes near the lodge we stayed at.
I know lots of parents who consider it vital to have a bit of ‘me time’ regularly; whether that is going to the gym, seeing a film, even having a bath or cup of coffee by yourself at home. I think it does make us better parents if we feel refreshed and happy in ourselves. One of my favourite parenting ‘experts’ Sarah Ockwell-Smith talks about the importance of looking after ourselves in order to be the best parents we can be: this article is great. I think it’s true that if we are totally burnt out and struggling to remember the last time we did anything just for ourselves we are going to find it more difficult to be a calm, patient parent. Of course this doesn’t need to be as extreme as spending a night away from home – as I said, it can be as simple as a half an hour soak in the bath, or spending an hour a week at a club or class. I don’t feel there’s any shame in admitting that we all need a bit of time to ourselves occasionally and if we are fortunate enough to get the opportunity to do so we should definitely take it!

When did you first spend a night away from your child or children? Or would you not even consider it? Do you think it’s important to have time away from your kids?
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45 thoughts on “Is ‘me time’ necessary for parents?

  1. Love that article. I think it’s so important if it’s important to the mother to do that if that makes sense. Not necessarily a night away but time to recharge however you might choose. If that’s with your children but doing something you want to do then that can be just as good. I’m plotting a small bit of me time soon. Season has started and it’s getting all on top of me. Think the odd moment of treaty me time will help me cope in between with solo parenting. Glad you had a good time x

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  2. Mommy time is definitely good for you! I’m so glad you got to have fun! I get weary when I leave my kids for just a few hours! My husband has to convince me they will be fine! Everyone needs a breather every now and then.

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  3. Happy mommy happy baby. This is what I agree with. My LO will be one next week and I never been away from her for more than couple of hours. Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes I feel like I have to, for my sanity as well as for the importance of having that “me time” but unfortunately I have no family here to take care of her and my friends can’t babysit as they got no experience or just not willing to. As a 24 h mom I can say that I came to cherish so much that alone cup of coffee and the little time I get when she goes to sleep before I doze off myself

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  4. You know my views on this – I think I’m a better mum for getting that little bit of time away and I’m so glad you had a good time. I first left E overnight when she was about 15 months, which felt about right. I left H at 7 months for one night and in retrospect that was far too soon and I haven’t done it since! Great article too xx

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  5. Me time is so beneficial for parents. Even if its just for an hour. It clears your head and gives you a fresh brain for thinking. I love my little hour in the evenings when the OH takes over baby and small child duties and I relax with a cuppa and a face mask. I always feel so refreshed and ready to take over the world. Loved your post.

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  6. I still haven’t spent a night away – going away for BlogOn in May will be the first time! I do try to have ‘me’ time regularly, though, even if it’s just a trip to to the gym like I had this morning, or meeting up with a friend for lunch.

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    1. Eeek BlogOn will be exciting! I’m sure you’ll both be fine and will have a great time. I agree, it’s good to get that time to ourselves. Seems like most of us believe that helps us to be better parents! Thanks for reading lovely, Ellen

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  7. I am one of those that consider it vital! It took me way over a year to leave Ellie for the night, to let her have a sleep over at her grandparents. Then when Trixie came along I think she was only 4 months old when I left her. I realised how much more patience I had after a rest. I think it is hard to be the mother we always imagined we would be but I finding having some me time every now and again helps me get a little closer to that vision.
    Thank you for joining the #BigPinkLink

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  8. I think its very important to have some time away, both as an individual and almost more importantly, as a couple. My wife and I are very fortunate to have two grammies that are willing to take ours overnight once every few months or so. I think that we really need that #familyfun

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  9. Oh there seems to be real pressure that parents have me time away from their children – we never have apart from the very very odd night. I adore being with mine all the time as crazy as that sounds. Yes, of course the break is nice but it’s more the break from routine other than the children. Sounds like you had a gorgeous time though my lovely – and so lovely to be waited on – that’s the bliss part for me for sure!! So exciting the time you’ve got coming up lovely xx #FamilyFun

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    1. Interesting that you should say that – my parents didn’t ever have much time away from us either other than when they were at work and we were at school! I don’t think I’d feel the need for nights away really, but a few hours here and there is always nice. It was definitely lovely not having to do any food prep or clearing up or anything though 😂
      It’s definitely exciting – if a little daunting 😬 Thanks for reading, Ellen xx

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  10. Oh its so hard. Firstly it sounds like you had a lovely time and I am so pleased you could put your feet up. In terms of a break and nights away, well I do think we all need a break. I certainly find I need a break more frequently or perhaps more strenuously than I did when I had one (In fact when I had one you had to prise her off me lol), or even when my two were younger. I don’t know if its their age, or energy levels, or what but and its a big but, when it comes to nights away, I am my own worst enemy. I feel like I would like one, but the reality of it never actually appeals to me. The thought of leaving them makes something feel funny inside that I can’t explain. That said, I would leave them if like you I had a hen do or a commitment of some sort but perhaps wouldn’t leave them for leaving thems sake – if that makes any kind of sense? A few hours out of the house suits me fine 🙂 Thanks for sharing at #familyfun

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    1. That makes a lot of sense and is pretty much how I feel – I do think they become more demanding in a lot of ways as they become toddlers. And yes I’d rather have an afternoon or evening out rather than an actual night away… I think I’d have felt terrible if B had been away too! Thanks for reading and for your thoughtful comment, Ellen xx

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  11. Glad you had a good mini break away! I’ve not left r for long at all definitely not over night. There are times I sort of wish I could but not yet. Hopefully get to go on a mini day date with Dave before October though as I think that’d do us good 😀

    ‪Thank you for linking up to the #familyfunlinky‬

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  12. I sometimes just need a full night’s sleep and consider taking myself off to the Premier Inn down the road for the night but that’s it really! I have had a couple of night’s away with friends and I do come back feeling more patient etc as a result (that will be the sleep again!!) but for me ‘me time’ can be just a half hour meditation after the’yve all gone to bed… bliss. Bubs no. 2 must be imminent now?! #familyfunlinky xx

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  13. I definitely feel refreshed when I’ve had a ‘break’, but I’m always eager to get home to him! I think Little Man was just over 18 months when he first had a sleepover and he’s only had a handful since. I like him under the same roof as me!! 🙂 #familyfun

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