Me-Time Misconceptions

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On a homeschool forum recently a question was asked about how people feel about “man-caves.”  You know, the typical recliner, fridge for drinks and snacks, TV, gaming console, etc.  Women were super eager to pipe in with their opinions.  A lot of them went like this:

Why would someone want to escape from their family?

How selfish is your husband? Why does he need all that space for himself?

What about the rest of us?

This is symptom of our selfish/self-centered/narcissistic culture.

*sigh* I was in the minority.  I think man-caves, tea rooms, prayer closets, secret gardens are wonderful things.  Where did we get this idea that time to yourself is a bad thing?  Come sit down with us.  We have a pot of tea and some scones.  Do you need cream and sugar?  Let’s chat.  Let’s look at some of those misconceptions about what people call “me-time.”

 Me Time

1. If you really love your husband and/or children, you shouldn’t be so eager to isolate yourself from them.

Getting time away–be it in your den by yourself, out with your girlfriends, reading in the garden or going to the movies by yourself–is no indication of the amount you love others.  This idea that if you love someone you must be in their face constantly is really just insecurity.  If you have to prove your love to your children or husband by never giving them a moment to themselves, where is the strength in the relationship?

Let’s take a look at the ultimate example: the life of Jesus.  But first, let me ask you, Did Jesus love His disciples? You bet He did!  And yet, look at John 6.  Jesus was performing miracles and feeding multitudes with just a bit of food.  (How many of you mommies have ever felt like you did that? You had half a loaf of bread and a can of tuna and somehow fed the masses of children at your table?)  The people were ready to make Him king!  But Jesus would have none of that.  “Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.” (John 6:15)  When His followers wanted to force Him into a role to which He was not called, he withdrew and spent some time by Himself.

Oh, have you ever been there, Mom? You carry the weight of the world on your shoulders, or so it seems. Everyone is looking to you to solve their problems–from carpool logistics to bill paying to meal planning to negotiating tricky relationships with friends and extended family.  Sometimes in those moments, you need to get away by yourself.  If Jesus refused to fulfill a role that was not His in that moment and so He got away by Himself, how much more do we need to refuse to be the saviors of our families and carrying burdens not meant for us.  We need that time away–for their good and ours!  Is that any indication of lack of love and care? No.

(Can I fill your cup? Have another scone, there are plenty.)

2. My family needs me. I can’t get away.

At the center of your soul is a place that only God can fill.  It is built and meant for Him.  After that there are concentric circles.  In the spot outside of God you have your spouse.  Then your children.  And as you move out there are more and more people who have increasingly less access to you.  And this is OK.

It may sound very spiritual and even martyr-like to say that you sacrifice all your time, energy, money, and self for the sake of your family.  But, guess what? “If we don’t prioritize our relationship with God, then our God spot will end up with a human being in it.” (Danny Silk) That is a scary thought indeed.

Time away from our children, husbands, responsibilities, burdens is time where the Lord can refresh our souls and remind us of our truest vocation–which is to be ourselves. Father Brennan Manning wrote, “Everybody has a vocation to some form of life work. But, behind that and deeper than that, everybody has a vocation to be a person, to be fully and deeply a human being, to be Christ-like. And the second thing is more important than the first. It is more important to be a great person than a great teacher, butcher, or candlestick maker. And if the only chance of succeeding in the second is to fail in the first, the failure, from God’s point of view, is fruitful.”

3. We are called to be selfless, therefore sacrificing time with your husband or children to spend time away from them is selfish.

In The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, a book of letters written from an uncle demon to his nephew demon on how to keep a man from becoming a follower of Christ (The “Enemy” referenced, therefore, is Jesus.) has this interesting passage: “Of course I know that the Enemy also wants to detach men from themselves, but in a different way. Remember always that He really likes the little vermin, and sets an absurd value on the distinctness of every one of them. When He talks of their losing their selves, He only means abandoning the clamour of self-will; once they have done that, He really gives them back all their personality, and boasts (I am most afraid, sincerely) that when they are wholly His they will be more themselves than ever. Hence, while He is delighted to see them sacrificing even their innocent wills to His, He hates to see them drifting away from their own nature for any other reason.”

Are you allowing yourself to drift away from yourself?  What do you love to do?  Is it painting? Reading? Gardening? Sipping tea? Rollerblading? Hiking? Whatever it is, do it.  Do what makes you feel alive.  You will be a better wife and better mom if you feed your soul (your mind, will and emotions). We propose that sometimes getting away with friends for a retreat is more selfless than staying home with the kids.  And sometimes staying home with the kids is more selfish than saying, “Good-bye y’all, Mommy is going to Starbucks by herself.”

4. We can’t afford it.

We bet that if your children came to you and said, “Mom, I need $5 for baseball/piano lessons/youth group/dance camp” you would find the money.  We bet if you were at the store and saw your husband’s very favorite tasty treat and it was on-sale  for $5 you would find the money.  Are we right?  We prioritize what is important to those we love, but often don’t teach them to prioritize what is important us.  It goes both ways.  You can afford that fancy drink at the coffee shop or that bottle of wine or that matinee movie ticket or whatever.  We aren’t talking about every day.  At different seasons in your life you may need these away times more often than others.  It may be once a month.  It may be once a week.  But, you will likely find money for what is your priority.

If you still say that you really cannot afford it, some beautiful things are free!  Take that walk in the park.  Get up early and watch the sunrise with your tea.  Take that 30 minutes by yourself to read a favorite book.  Browse the library without all the kids in tow.

Self-care should be a priority.

5. I don’t have time for it.

Do you think the Lord has a lot to do?  He created the whole world–everything from the sun in the sky to the tiniest microbe.  He created man, breathed the breath of life into him, fashioned woman, placed them in the garden He planted Himself.  But on the seventh day HE RESTED.  And then God gave the law to Moses requiring that we also cease from our labors–at a regular interval of once a week. “In repentance and rest is your salvation.  In quietness and trust is your strength.”  Isaiah 30:15

If anyone understands this big time deficit, I do!  With a large family, it can be difficult to even find a moment alone to use the bathroom!  There are constantly little people to feed, diapers to change, bills to pay, kids to get to various lessons and activities, etc.  To get time to myself to recharge and refresh, I must make it a priority.  I must say no to some things so that I can say yes to other things! Sometimes that means I wake up early to get in that walk or cup of tea by myself.  Sometimes it means in the evening after I get the kids in bed I go out with my girlfriends for a late dinner or dessert.  Sometimes it means while the kids are in Kung Fu instead of running errands I sneak over to the church for 30 minutes of Adoration.  These things make a huge difference in my ability to cope and love and live fully!

How’s that tea, honey? Have another cup and stay as long as you’d like. You’ve done enough.  You can rest now.

  1. There are times i just want to open the door and leave. Running around the street! And i actually do that. It helps me get in a much better mood. The last time i tried doing my hair, the baby was ofcourse running behind me  and his dad just said “i am calling him, but he is not coming” and then …oh my! I just called him “come, get the baby and close the door behing you. LEAVE ME ALONE!” 

  2. Newly married here four months and feeling guilty because I want to go have girl time with sister who’s here from Oregon. Im gonna give it to the Lord and go spend time with sister. Thanks for the post! Perfect timing.

    • I think any wife married more than like 2 weeks probably needs a girl’s night out! LOL And certainly your husband could probably use a night out with the guys! We all need this from time-to-time. It’S OK!!!!

  3. Elena - July 23, 2014

    Daja, thank you for your post very much! I really needed to read something like this – I am the one who usually feels bad for taking time for herself…
    I love the quote by CS Lewis 🙂
    God bless you

  4. Robin-Taine - July 13, 2014

    I am a bit of an introvert. It is necessary for me to have a bit of silence in my day. Today I sent all 5 of my kids out to the park (even the 18yr old) in part so that I could have an hour of silence! My husband is the opposite of me and I am grateful that he tries to understand that side of my personality. I have an office with all of my books and a desk and a door that my hubby made sure was my place. It is a sanctuary when I need those few moments to centre myself and I feel that I am a way better mom and wife because of it!

  5. This is sooo goood. This is so needed. <3 I love you friends!

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