The Truth About Moms and "Me Time"

Once upon a time there was a mom with four young children. For years this mom had worked in children’s ministry, from the time she was a high school student herself, through her early days as a young wife, and through the years of having babies and toddlers and preschoolers.

 Me time for moms

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After the birth of her own children, she not only cared for everyone else’s kids by working in the nursery, teaching Sunday School, and helping out in Sunday and Wednesday night programs, she also was a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom. And without the magic yellow bus to come around and take some of her children off her hands for at least part of the day, she was literally with these children twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. All day. Everyday. All. The. Time. Not to mention the children of other people that she cared for at a multitude of children’s church programs.

And now, she decided that she more than deserved an occasional break.

She decided that on Sunday nights she was actually going to (gasp) drop her kids off at a church program and not stay to help. Instead she was going to spend a blessed hour and half alone, somewhere reading a book, perhaps. After all, she deserved me time, right? And she often read articles about how much better a mom she could be if she had some time to recharge her own batteries. And goodness knows, her batteries were constantly drained.

Her plan was to spend this blessed hour or so alone each week and to pick her kids up from the church program refreshed and ready to be a great mom for the rest of the week.

But things didn’t seem to work out that way.

As an introvert, this young mom enjoyed her quiet hour and a half of solitude each week. She could actually think complete thoughts. It was a wonderful thing. And when the time rolled around that she needed to head back to pick up her kids, she would wistfully pack away her book and head to gather up the crew.

But instead of feeling refreshed and ready to jump back into her mom responsibilities, she would arrive at the church feeling a little stressed. She knew that her quiet and solitude was soon to be shattered. And when she walked in to pick up the kids, she couldn’t help but be annoyed at how difficult they were to gather up and how they kept stopping on the way out the door to talk to friends and how the whole family had to turn around and go back inside to get something that one of them forgot.

And most of the time, by the time she wrestled the kids back to the house and inside, prepared something quick for them all to eat, helped kids get ready for bed, and actually herded them into their bedrooms, she wasn’t thankful at all for her hour and a half of peace and quiet. Instead she was feeling a tad resentful and frustrated by the intrusion of these kids into her calm and peaceful time.

She knew that something wasn’t quite right with this picture. She never seemed content with the time she had to herself. Instead she felt a little perturbed that she couldn’t have more time. And if something interrupted her time alone each week- a sick child, a husband that needed her to do something during her hour and a half, a request to fill in for one of the children’s program leaders- she felt pretty resentful over the fact that she wasn’t getting the me time that she deserved.

That young mom was me, my friend. And when I realized that something wasn’t right with this picture, I began to look at what was really happening with my attitude when I was so determined that I get the me time that I so rightfully deserved. And I realized- with the help of some good blog posts and the speaking of the Holy Spirit to my heart- that I was buying in to the “me time” lies. (This is one of the great things I read that deals with this topic.)

And then I began to realize that many Christian moms buy into these lies.

I was reading a book recently about moms using their talents and gifts. Some of what the book said was okay. But in one part of the book, the authors compared moms who feel as if they don’t have time to pursue their interests because of their families to Paul being under house arrest in the New Testament. Really? We’re being held prisoner by our families?

I think this is a really dangerous train of thought. And I think that buying into the the lies that society tells us about “me time” can make us feel frustrated and bitter and resentful towards our husbands and children. God wants us, instead, to consider motherhood a high calling and to cherish the responsibilities that we have to nurture and care for our families.

Here are some of the lies that we’re fed about “me time” and then a look at the truth that contradicts each.

The truth about moms and time for themselves

Lie: Moms work hard and deserve to have some time to themselves once in a while.

Truth: None of us- moms or dad or even single men and women deserve anything except death, according to the Bible. 

The Bible never gives any indication that any of us are deserving of anything good in any way. Instead it says “The wages of sin is death…”(Romans 6:23) In no other context does Scripture talk about us being deserving.

When we begin to think that we are deserving of something, our natural response is to become unhappy and resentful if we don’t get it. “Why won’t you stay at home with the kids tonight? I deserve a break.” “Will you please just leave me alone? I deserve a little peace and quiet.” Believing that we are deserving can only lead to a negative attitude on our part when we don’t get what we think we deserve.

Lie: Having children can put a damper on a mom’s ability to follow her interests and use her talents and abilities and she needs time to continue pursuing those.

Truth: Children are a precious gift from God. (Psalm 127:3-5) And nurturing and caring for them is the calling of a mother. (Titus 2:1-5) 

This caring for our children shouldn’t be viewed as getting in the way of who we are. Instead we should consider it our most important job in this season of life.

When we start to consider our family as a burden that prevents us from doing the things we really want to do, we again cause ourselves to become resentful towards them. Instead we can focus on using the gifts and talents that God has blessed us with to be the best moms that we can be and to serve our families well.

Lie: If a mom doesn’t have regular times of nurturing herself and recharging her batteries, she won’t be able to be a good mom. We need to care for ourselves first.

Truth: Our strength and ability to be moms doesn’t come from having regular times to nurture ourselves and recharge our batteries. It comes from God. (Phil. 4:13, Isaiah 40:29) 

No matter how much time we take to rest and refresh ourselves, outside of God, we can’t find strength on our own. We may have a brief illusion of restfulness and refreshment, but like my feelings of stress when I picked my kids up after my times alone, it will never be enough.

In truth, God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. (2 Cor. 12: 9-10) When I finally come to the end of myself and my own strength, then I rely on God and realize His strength. If I’m constantly trying to recharge my own strength by spending time alone, I can miss out on the blessing of realizing that I can’t really do anything through my own strength and that through God’s strength is the only way I can make it.

What I’m not saying…

I am not implying that if you’ve ever desired a moment’s peace and quiet, you are a horrible mother. And if you’ve ever pretended to go to the bathroom just so that you can spend a few quiet moments alone, you’re not an evil, unspiritual person.

But if you have fallen into the trap of somehow believing that you deserve that time alone or believing that having this “me time” will magically recharge and rejuvenate you, then you’re going to be disappointed and resentful when it doesn’t work out.

What do you think? I know this is a controversial idea because it’s counter-cultural. It goes against what we hear all the time about moms. Leave me a comment and let me know if you agree or disagree.

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