Parents and me-time: an instruction manual
Published on 13 August 2020
Before your baby arrived, did you feel like you had time? Or maybe not? How do we perceive time, and why is it important to take some “me-time”?
I used to have so much time! After becoming parents, it seems to just melt away. In reality, if you filled your time with activities other than parenting before, it is quite possible that you still had the feeling that you did not have time!
Of course, this depends on our cultural connection with time. However, even if our perception varies, it is still essential for parents – as at any stage in life – to unwind. This also includes taking time for themselves.
Are you a “monochronic” or “polychronic” person?
When someone arrives half an hour late to an appointment with a smile instead of an apology, does that make you angry? There are two different ways to organise time, as Edward T. Hall explains in his book Dance of Life: The Other Dimension of Time, cited by Amanda Castillo in the newspaper, Le Temps. In northern Europe and North America, the “monochronic” system prevails, in which time is a single tangible entity, which you can plan, control, waste or even gain. Professional and social life is dominated by a timetable or a schedule, and people are happy to set priorities. In “polychronic” cultures, on the other hand, found in Mediterranean societies or in the Arab world, individuals are involved in several events, situations, or relationships at the same time, without feeling that time has been “lost”.
If you live in Switzerland, you are probably “monochronic”, either by choice, or you have adapted because Swiss society works that way. In this type of system, it will be particularly useful for you to book time for yourself in your diary. This will let you make these moments a suitably high priority, like a real appointment with yourself! You can also “switch off” more easily, without blaming yourself.
Why take time for yourself?
When your child does something you don’t like, do you get annoyed very quickly? This is an immediate sign that you need to take a moment to calm down, if necessary in a different room. It also means that it is high time that you took a few moments to unwind. Ideally, you should not wait until you are pushed to your limit – irritability is a good indicator – because good mental well-being is maintained through consistency.
What should you do when you take time for yourself?
Choose an activity that occurs to you spontaneously, the first thing that comes to mind! That is what will do you most good. Activities in front of a screen are not quite so good – although this varies depending on your personal experience – because ultimately, they are perceived to be time-consuming and not very relaxing.
Physical activity is an excellent way to switch off. Your body secretes hormones that affect your mental state. Depending on your personality and your needs, you could opt for gentler activities – like yin yoga – or something more energetic, with other people, or in nature. You might prefer walking, reading, or spending time with friends or your partner.
But there is no need to give yourself a hectic schedule! What about just giving yourself time to daydream? Inactivity can be regenerative. Periods of boredom are recommended for children –read Laissez-moi le temps de rêver (Leave me time to dream) by Etty Buzin, for example – and they are good for parents as well! Daydreaming allows you to “digest” everything you experience, and it even lets you use your imagination, leaving space for creativity, so you can approach your day-to-day life feeling refreshed!
Convinced? If so, then go to your diary and book yourself some “me time”!