Why Your ‘Me Time’ Helps Your Kids

polished hand me time
Image via Katie Hurley

Moms always hear about the importance of “me time” and why time away from the kids can really rejuvenate a tired mom.  It’s true.  Sometimes you just need a little space to relax and take a break from the constant shuffling, worrying, mediating, and everything else that happens almost every hour on the hour.

But it can be hard to find the time, and sometimes that pesky mom guilt creeps in.  Is it really ok to be relaxing in the nail salon when one of my kids might need me for something right this very minute?

The answer, of course, is yes.

Not only is me time essential to the emotional health of tired moms everywhere, but it also benefits children.

Here are three reasons why your “me time” helps your kids:

Problem solving:

Does it ever feel like your little ones run to you with every single tiny problem before they’ve even thought about it?  They probably do.  You’re there.  They know you can fix it.  Why not cut out a step and run right to the supreme fixer of all things kid?

When you’re not there for a little while, they have to stop and think.  They can ask the adult left in charge, they can ask a sibling, or they can try to problem-solve a little bit first.  There’s a reason experts say to take a breath and reply, “I will be there in just two minutes” when a child asks for help with every little thing.  What we’re really saying is this:  Teaching your child to give it try first increases mastery, problem-solving skills, and independence.

{ MORE: How I Learned to Single Task }

Sometimes a little time away from mommy provides opportunities to break out of the comfort zone.

They need you present:

When you are frazzled and running from place to place, it’s hard to be truly present with your children.  It’s easy to go into autopilot mode and answer questions without even hearing the actual question.

Our kids know when we aren’t there emotionally.  It’s not the amount of time that you spend playing dolls, talking trucks, or doing other 1:1 stuff that really counts, it’s the quality of the time spent together.

When you get a chance to check out and relax a little, you come back ready to play, listen, and engage with your child.  No guilt there, mamas.

Stress trickles down:

There’s no way around it, kids pick up on environmental stress.  We try to hide it.  We think we’re smiling through it.  But they feel it.

When you are under stress and in need of a break, your child needs that break too.  It’s very difficult to remain calm and present when you feel like you’re drowning in stress and worry.

Bottom line:  When you take care of you, you also take care of your kids.  In addition, you teach them the importance of self-care and working through difficult emotions.  Your kids learn a lot simply by observing you.  Teach them that everyone needs alone time once in a while.

{ MORE: Hey Mama, You Need to Take Care of You Like You Take Care of Your Kids }

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Why Your ‘Me Time’ Helps Your Kids

Katie Hurley, LCSW is a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and writer in Los Angeles, CA. She is the author of "No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls" and "The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World". She earned her BA in Psychology and Women's Studies from Boston College and her MSW from the University of Pennsylvania. She divides her time between her family, her private practice and her writing. Passionate about he ... More

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6 comments

  1. I agree although sometimes I still take my son with me on my "me time" to get us both out of the house and its just as soothing 🙂 Just food shopping alone is peaceful enough for me when the husband and boy are going to bed that when I get any extra open time its nice to take my little man along.

  2. Mommy says:

    My son is still small he is 6 months old and I stress so much everytime I think of leaving him that I just don’t go. I can’t enjoy myself when I’m so worried. I am trying to take baby steps and leave him with my mom for 30 minutes or so. We will continue working on it but it hard. I return to work in September so I won’t both of us to get used to being apart.

  3. April says:

    Absolutely agree 100%!!

  4. Megan Steele says:

    I would’ve never guessed that "me" time was so important. I’ve kept my 3 year old niece just about everyday for the past 8 months because her parent chose drugs and alcohol over her, but normally I take her with me when I get my hair done so she can get hers done too. I’ve never been into just "me" time. My angel comes with me and it’s just as relaxing as if I’m with my girlfriends. I guess it depends if your child has been raised with respect and rules rather than not to see how peaceful it really is.

  5. SammyScream says:

    This advice is very helpful. And its true to the point.

  6. Great tips and advice. Makes sense!

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