The top 7 reasons to take "me" time
Before I headed off on a trip which I would later recognize as a turning point for me, I couldn’t remember the last time I spent time alone. Fair enough, because as a mother of three, “me” time gets lost in the non-stop “them time” as I just try and keep the household afloat. But when the school year started to wind down this past June, I had begun to reach my limit. My temper was shorter, I was easily irritated, and it was clear that I desperately needed to take a few days out to prioritize my ideas and workload.
Yet I found it hard to rank myself as an actual priority.
I finally had my opportunity when my two older kids went away for camp. I’d just have my little one with me, and my hubby would be at work, so I could (miraculously) get away. Like, really away. Like the take-a-train-somewhere-and-sleep-in-a-hotel kind of away. Whoa.
The first part was easy. Being the happy planner that I am, I immediately started searching for destinations with a hotel and kids club. My little one could play during the day, and I could have “me time.”
Thanks to another family blogger here in Switzerland, I stumbled upon the hotel Arrabella Waldhuus in Davos. Because Davos is more known for the World Economic Forum and as a ski destination rather than a summer destination, my first instinct was to keep on searching. But the price was right and they had an all-day kids club. Sometimes you just have to accept that destiny is knocking on your door.
While the planning part was easy, this trip was not without its obstacles. “What?” You ask me. Obstacles? Woman, get on the next train out of town! Before something changes!
Not so fast.
Obstacle one: Mummy Guilt
Here we go. “WHAT?” I ask myself. “LEAVE MY THREE-YEAR-OLD IN THE CARE OF STRANGERS ALL DAY, FOR TWO DAYS????”
My Mummy guilt can be quite loud and insistent sometimes.
If I were to have any “me” time at all, I had to ignore that Mummy guilt. No, I had to just square off with it and tell it to go to ….yeah. I did that. I told it where it could go.
Secondly, I needed to make sure my little one would be, in theory, OK with the idea. I prepared her in advanced by telling her we would be visiting a hotel and that it would have a playgroup, just like the one she goes to during the school year just with different teachers. This actually got her excited before we even hopped in the car. Win! I would still have guilt (despite trying not to), but there’s a big difference between leaving them when they’re upset and leaving them when they are skipping happily toward the kids club. So we were off.
We arrived at the hotel just before 4pm, and I decided to head straight to the kids club to leave little there Z for the last hour to get her used to the room and the staff. She was the only kid in the club (and would be for our entire visit), because we had booked our stay during a quieter week. That translated into as much one on one time as she wanted. Z was loved on for both days and enjoyed all of the attention. The room was large, bright and playful, and had plenty of things to do. Z headed straight for the kitchens. I closed the door behind me, set my alarm for 5pm and I practiced being alone with myself. An entire hour just for me—this might take some getting used to.
Obstacle 2: Discomfort with my Newfound Freedom
I was right. The second day arrived with sunshine streaming into our room. Little Z couldn’t wait to head down to the kids club and neither could I. Or so I thought. I dropped her off, loaded my backup up with my camera, Kindle and notebook and set off. Without my four additional family members with me, I was suddenly in charge of my own time. My first “problem” was deciding what to do with all that time. I was now in the unusual position of having to decide how I would spent my time, without having to consider anyone else. Surprisingly, it was paralysing.
I decided to head towards the lake. A 45 minute walk through the town of Davos landed me at the beach in a little restaurant along the shores of Lake Davos. Before I could even order, I had already tried out three different tables. It wasn’t the tables that were wrong, it was sitting at a restaurant by myself that was uncomfortable. It was so silent and difficult! Perhaps it was my learned behavior of not allowing myself to get comfortable in anticipation of the next request one of my kids would make of me? I had no one to listen to except the sound of my own breathing and my inner thoughts. I wasn’t used to listening to myself. I think that was the part that scared me the most.
I finally decided on ordering the daily smooothie and sat back and tried to relax. I took out my Kindle and started to read which was a good distraction. I finally somewhat adapted to my new rhythm and time then started to fly by. But even after moving to one of the lounge chairs by the lake I still found it hard to really get comfortable. The chair was comfortable. Being alone with my thoughts was not.
Obstacle 3: Accepting and enjoying self-care
Not ready to be alone for the entire day, I headed back to the hotel to meet my little Z for lunch, and afterwards we both went back to the room for a little nap before we began our afternoon. Z happily ran off to the kids club once we awoke, and I decided that this would be the day that I had a bit of pampering at the onsite spa. I have had many massages over the years, but most were performed by a physiotherapist due to my back problems, so I was eager to finally have a massage in a non-medical atmosphere. The dim lights, relaxing music, and smell of massage oils filled the room and I could actually feel my pulse drop and shoulders relax. I was told by Hubby on no uncertain terms not to come home without first having had a massage, so I ignored the price and splurged for an hour-long massage (love that man). The therapist immediately noticed that I was a big ball of stress, and so she in instructed me to make sure I followed up with another massage in the next couple of weeks.
The feeling during and after the massage was energizing and renewing. It is amazing what taking only one hour from your routine can add back for you. And of course that begs the question of why I don’t do it more often. It’s a question to ponder, but I think I already know the answer. (NB: I was a good girl and had another massage 2 weeks later when we were in holiday in Portugal. So I’m learning).
Obstacle 4: Learning to trust myself.
The following day I woke up to grey fog. I had planned to go on a big hike that day, but seeing that fog put a damper on my plans. I was already incredibly anxious thinking about going into the mountains on my own, and now with the fog—which made it a bit more dangerous—I really started to get nervous.
I checked Z back into the Kids Club for the day and prodded myself to head into town to the take the funicular up to Schatzalp. I could decide where go from there, if I still wanted to hike. I kept opening and closing the hiking map but I just couldn’t decide on which path to take. Once I arrived to the top I finally decided to stop hesitating and just walk and see where the path would take me. It again felt really odd (in an uncomfortable way) to be completely on my own and for the first 10 minutes I happily hiked behind a small group, which helped to ease some of my anxiety.
Lately I’ve been making a conscious effort to encourage myself do things that make me feel uncomfortable, so I changed my path and decided to walk in another direction. The moment I did and I was completely alone, fear overcame me and I sent a text to Hubby to let him know exactly where I was in case something bad happened. Of course it was in vain, but learning to trust myself is easier said than done. I walked along for around 5 km and eventually came across a mountain restaurant with a lovely view so I settled in for a hot drink, some writing, and a bite to eat. It was an amazing feeling to be sitting there, having hiked through my fear, and I was able to do some amazing writing. I decided to hike back down into town after that, so I didn’t really do a huge hike that day, but just being on my own was a such a victory. My world expanded just a little bit more as I said no to my fear that day.
To celebrate my first ever mini-hike on my own, I stopped in town at a cafe which was recommended to me called “Kaffeeklutsch” and instead of my usual indecision as to what to order, I asked for a recommendation. Ginger iced tea was the drink offered, so I took it, along with a decadent brownie. It felt good. I smiled to myself and thought that with a bit of time, maybe I could get used to taking “me” time.
After that I returned back to the hotel, excited to see Z, and with a renewed sense of energy and purpose because I was so proud of myself that I had worked through my fear of hiking by myself.
The time came to finally say goodbye to Davos, so we got into the train and begun our return journey. I came home from my short break with just a little more confidence than I had started with. My previous feeling of dread of all the things I had to do had turned toward eagerness and hopefulness. My mind, which had been growing more cluttered by the day had more inspiration, and new ideas could once again flow more freely. I looked at my challenges just a little bit more optimistically now.
So what did I learn from finally taking some “me” time?
1. I learned that “me” time is actually not selfish. It’s necessary.
2. “Me” time won’t happen unless it’s planned.
3. “Me” time is not only good for me, but it’s good for the whole family. When Mama’s happy, everybody’s happy.
4. “Me” time allows me to renew myself so that I can give my best to my family.
5. “Me” time is like any other type of maintenance we readily do: oil changes, haircuts, dentist visits, yet I had stigmatized it as something which was selfish and an act of taking from my family. That is wrong.
6. By giving myself the time I need to renew, my family ultimately gets so much more from me, which makes me feel even better. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.
7. “Me” time allows me to demonstrate to my children that it’s important and necessary for a woman to take care of not only her family, but also of herself.
As initially uncomfortable as it was to do, this won’t be the last time that I prioritise myself, and I won’t wait until I’m desperate. It’s a new mindset, but I look forward to the next time I am alone, hearing only my thoughts.
Do you find it hard to know what to do when you are on your own? How do you prioritise “me” time?