Sunday, 12 September 2010

Me time...

I was told to bugger off out the house, away from the kids and from Oh Daddy. I deserved a break, I was told and while this assertion is correct that left the problem of what to do with myself during this Me time... Instead of embracing the idea like a kid in a sweet shop, I became bewildered, lost, defunct. The truth being that I never really utter the phrase "If I were on my own...I would...", it's more a case of "if we had a babysitter, we would..." So I Googled activities in the Burgh until I felt compelled (subliminal advertising?) to do something about my physical appearance. So I booked appointments to get my hair coloured and cut. My face washed and doused in oils and potions and my entire body kneaded with essential oils pressed by mysterious women in far off Eastern lands.I also popped into House of Fraser where my favourite make up brand is stocked and had a full face done whilst sipping a glass of wine.

The only thing that I've discovered from this is that this is not really my idea of a Me time experience. I like changing my hair but for me a haircut is a rather fast paced, gossip and caffeine fuelled experience, one that is perfunctory given that I have short hair and it needs to be maintained. The massage was nice but I was very conscious that my body was covered in oils as was my hair and my make up washed off when I was going out for dinner an hour later. She also touched my feet! I hate having my feet touched! I really hate it! So any knots that she had unfurled during the shoulder massage jumped immediately back into place. I have yet to find out what my perfect blissful Me time experience is. I had thought about going to an Surrealism exhibition at the Dean Gallery but ran out of time with all of these appointments. So what's the big deal about Me time?

"Me time" is something mothers talk about a lot and frankly, we need it, but that phrase and that idea has taken over parents' free time the way "your big day" has taken over weddings. The wedding industrial complex uses a perfectly natural impulse - to make one's wedding day a special rite - and bastardizes it into an excuse to overspend on canapes and napkin rings. Now parental downtime has fallen victim to the same thing.

"You need more 'me time'," we're constantly told in ads and magazines. TV advertisements trumpet the benefits of me time. I wouldn't be so against it except their suggestions aim so low:

Get more "me time" - have a bath with foamy soap
Get more "me time" - drink a premium coffee with 100,000,000 calories
Get more "me time" - go to the bathroom on your own
Now that's living!

Since when did enjoying perfectly normal adult pursuits such as reading a book, washing yourself or talking on the phone to a friend become specialised activities that you can only do when the kids aren't around? I fall victim to this thinking myself. I tend to read books at night in bed instead of my preferred time on Sunday afternoons, a perfectly good moment to bring out a book since we're all lazing around doing this and that anyway.

It's beneficial for children to see their parents do grown-up activities (within reason) and also to come to terms that mum and dad aren't available to them every single second to fetch some juice or play Frustration. To be sure, when children are babies, we do need to be at their beck and call, watching out for sharp corners and feeding times. But once they hit a certain age - I'd put it at 3 years old, if not before - they can learn that "Mummy is reading her book/taking the hard skin off her feet/in the loo now. She can play in 15 minutes" is part of life.

In those circumstances, they must entertain themselves for short periods, which is something so many of us want to give back to our kids anyway: the opportunity to be bored then discover something on their own.

And while we're at it, let's expand our own definition of "me time" beyond activities we do in a few snatched moments at home like an hour of TV before falling asleep. 

It's time we embrace real "me time" - and let the phony kind that comes in a box of bath salts drain away.


  1. I've been mulling over 'me time' recently. It's not something that I get much of these days. Hubby's idea of me time was me taking the kids for a walk in the duoble buggy and them falling asleep! He would love to spend more time with the kids and because of that he can't seem to understand that I need some time away from them. Unfortunately me time in this house consists of me being able to have shower in peace!

  2. I know! The menfolk do try but need it spelled out to them sometimes. I'm trying to progress onto baths...

  3. Love this post...and I absolutely agree tht it's becoming so hard to seperate what we truly want to do (if we want to do anything at all!) from what is marketed to us.
    I've rediscovered the gym, with some very loud, age-inappropriate music blaring on my ipod. I'll never be a gym bunny, but it's good time out.

  4. Thank you so much Jean. I'm glad you're enjoying your gym time. I momentarily dabbled with Zumba for a few weeks but even speaking to the instructor tired me out!

    I'll find something eventually.


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