When The Concept of "Me Time" Stresses You Out

It's okay if you're not into yoga

I’m a mom to three boys and it wasn’t far into my first pregnancy that someone put the concept of ‘me time’ forward to me. I don’t remember who it was but I do remember nodding in agreement that it sure sounded like an important thing to carve out as an expectant mom. At the time, I wasn’t sure what to do about it so I just cataloged it. 
Soon enough my first guy was born, and life was thrown into the turmoil that comes along with having no idea what you’re doing. And along with all the stresses that came with parenthood, ‘me time’ (of all things) began to nag in the back of my mind. You see, it seemed, that people in all walks of my life were emphasizing it. Even my husband.
So what’s the problem you may ask? How dare these well-intentioned people suggest I take time for myself? And I agree, it sounds crazy. But then I figured out what was going on. The problem was that I felt like I had a problem because I didn’t want any me time. Other moms were carving out time for yoga, pilates, facials, massages, and workouts or hobbies like photography or scrapbooking, but I didn’t want to do any of those things. As a result, I felt another layer of pressure to accomplish something that didn’t really make sense to me. This thing that was supposed to relieve stress, was actually becoming a source of stress for me! How ironic.
And yet I tried. When I was pregnant with my second son, I signed up for a prenatal yoga class. Kill two birds with one stone, I thought. Yoga meant something good for the baby and also some so-called ‘me time’. But after a few sessions, I stopped looking forward to going. One yoga evening, I put on my gear, packed up my mat, and headed out for my class. Only I didn’t show up. Instead, I drove to a coffee shop and sat there by myself for an hour. It was heavenly. When I returned home, my husband asked how class was and I told him it was great. 
As time passed, I began to realize that what I really yearned for was alone time. Time to think. Or to not think. Time without demands or pressure or noise. Time without having to follow instructions, or sweat, or feel uncoordinated, or hear what’s wrong with my skin routine. Time to reflect or imagine or analyze or wish away or to do whatever the %!#@* I wanted.  So I did want ‘me time’; just not the ‘me time’ I thought I was supposed to want.
The truth is, that precious time is important but it’s different for everybody and what I really wanted to do was just be lazy with my thoughts all by myself. I’m in no way discounting all of those other (very productive) examples of ‘me time’, they’re just not right for my version of ‘me time’.
For me? Scrap yoga. Scrap pilates. Scrap the spa. Scrap the book club. Scrap that new, complicated hobby. We all recharge differently and that’s remarkable.


Rachel Cameron is a customer experience and insights professional, and busy mom to three boys. She holds a degree in psychology and an MBA, and moonlights as a freelance writer.  You can find her on twitter at Rachel_MCameron.