Please don't take away my 'me-time'

I’m not sure I’m following all of the arguments in this take down of “me-time” in the Times Online. The author blames too many parenting experts for undermining parental authority and creating a division between parent and child that is unnecessary and unhealthy:

One consequence is that parents, and particularly mothers, experience a lack of time to be themselves. In response, official literature and the popular media groans with advice about why mothers should carve out space free from the pressures of work and family. The suggestions about how to do that are familiar — have a bubble bath, join the gym, organise a mini-break. As families we are used to being tempted by the ultimate relaxing break, one that keeps children busy and gives exhausted parents time to themselves: a holiday at Center Parcs, for example, might offer activities for the children so that parents can spend a soothing day in the spa. But is more me-time what the modern mother really wants or needs?

via The great myth of me-time – Times Online.

Yes. Yes, absolutely, yes. More “me-time” please! But the author sees an angle that my sleep-deprived fuzzy mind cannot make sense of at all:

The idea that “I need more time for me” implies a conflict of interest between parents and children: an us and them situation in which time needs to be consciously divided into time “for them” and time “for me”.

via The great myth of me-time – Times Online.

Umm, right. There is a conflict of interest. My daughter wants to cut paper with her new Hello Kitty scissors 24/7. I’m not such a fan of the scissor arts. My son likes to divebomb onto the couch. That doesn’t really do it for me either. I’m not a helicopter parent, as in, I don’t need to supervise my four-year-old as she turns printer paper into thousands of tiny pieces I’m going to have to vacuum up later. And I let my 11-month-old explore a (babyproofed) room without throwing toys or other distractions in front of him. We have “us-time” when we read books, go on outings and eat meals. Pretty standard stuff. But even if I’m loading the dishwasher while they play (something the author recommends) that doesn’t negate my need to sit with a book, by myself and out of hearing range of my very loud and distracting children. I don’t have to go get a pedicure (although, I’d love to) and I don’t have to vacation where there’s a spa. But I do need down time with no outside stimulation in order to clear my head and think clearly and function as a wife, employee and mother. So back off, downer lady. You can take away Dr. Sears’ books but you’ll nver get my “me-time!”

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3 Responses to Please don't take away my 'me-time'

  1. dreamking says:

    Ok. I’ll buy the idea that parents within a certain socioeconomic range indirectly have their competence questioned by the existence and marketing of a fleet of consultants and service providers.

    I’ll buy the idea that the pressures of other service providers encourage us to ‘activity up’ to an enormous degree, in lieu of the demon tv. This may cause a compartmentalization of time into units as activities/naps are mapped into or around them. The author I think is just a bad writer in this piece. I think she’s trying to say that she laments the idea that a parent’s relaxing moments are prone to repackaging, and risk being devalued as just another (meaningless?) cog in the activity machine. In her worst nightmare, perhaps, she sees parents as having 10 units of self-focussed activity slots and having to schedule and value them as any other child-focussed activity slot. This would lead us to resent our kids? I dunno. She kind of loses me further on, like she got stuck on the awful image of resentful parents feeling they need to liberate themselves from their kids in order to retain their identity.

    She ends with a fine point – “We should reclaim the sense of our families as a place where we can be ourselves, warts and all — rather than somewhere that we struggle to be the “perfect parent”, and then have to escape in order to “be me”.’ But in getting there, her contempt and scolding would also seem to rob parents of parental authority, and just make parents even more self-conscious they’re doing the wrong thing.


    • April Peveteaux says:

      I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who got lost along the way.

      Also, it should be noted, she’s promoting a book that slams Supernanny – the ultimate parenting expert.

  2. Caitlin Kelly says:

    I haven’t read the piece, but it’s a fairly obvious human need. No one can be “on” all the time for others without blowing a gasket. I chose not to have kids because I know I need a lot of quiet and privacy, two things that disappear for sure with kids.

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