04 October 2010

I received this email from a lovely reader last week:
“I am the stay at home mom of 3..how do I afford myself the time to do things I love and not feel guilty for it?? I have recently realized that i have completely let my home go...(it is clean, but as for the decorating part i really have done very little since child #1 was born 6 years ago)...and I am really sad about it. I haven't bought new decorations for the holidays or anything at all....things i used to LOVE doing.”
You all know the airplane analogy. What do those flight attendants tell you if the oxygen masks come down??

Put yours on first, then help the child next to you. Because it’s not going to do any good if you’re trying to help him put his on first and you both pass out. You need to get oxygen first, so you can both get the precious air you need to live.
What awakens you? What helps you feel alive amidst the dirty dishes, diapers, carpool, mounds of laundry, piles of mail, homework, runny noses, and bathrooms that need to be scrubbed?
My best advice would be: Find out what it is and make time for it and don’t feel an ounce of guilt for it.
For my mom, it was/is playing the cello. She would leave all 7 of us with my Dad on Thursday nights and play in the city symphony. We knew she was the best mom, but she also helped us see that she was a person with interests (gasp!) other than just us.
Now, Thursday nights are mine. After dinner, I let my husband do the dishes and put the kids down and I go to thrift stores and craft stores and Lowes and Target. Or just grab a hot chocolate and wander down the aisles of Barnes & Noble.
By myself.
It is glorious. I usually don’t come home until after 11.
I live for Thursday nights.
The rest of the creating/blogging around here happens very s-l-o-w-l-y between naps and bedtimes and a few hours on the weekends. But here’s an important key: don’t feel the pressure to do it if you don’t LOVE it. Find out what awakens you. Read books and blogs that inspire you, not make you feel inadequate for not doing something you think you should be doing. (Ahem…Including 320 Sycamore!)
I used to take Saturday mornings and hit yard sales, but soccer games have overtaken that, so Thursday it is. The point is, you’ve got to make some time to pursue your passions. Work it out with your husband, trade with a friend, sign your kids up for parents’ day out at a local church, make it a priority for yourself.
The most important part of a home is not the things in it, but the feeling in it. And we all know how mom is feeling is the number one factor in how the home feels.
There will be different seasons in life to pursue different paths, but everyone can find something that fits now. So whether its running, sewing, parachuting, reading, writing, bargain hunting, gardening, yoga, crafting, music, politics, toothpick sculptures, home decor, painting, or kayaking, find out what it is and make time for it.
This is what gives me oxygen right now.  Thanks to each of you for helping me breathe :)
Now, I would love to hear from you:
What awakens you?
How on earth do you make the time for it?


  1. FABULOUS! You put into words what I have felt for a LONG time :) I think its time I have a talk with my hubby about our Thursday nights now...

  2. Tuesdays used to be "Man Night" at my house - I'd leave the two boys with their dad and they'd wrestle, play wii, battle with nerf guns, eat oreos, etc. They thought it was a treat for them (and it was!) and I'd sneak out and be gone for 3-4 hours. Now that a little girl has joined the scene, it's "Daddy Night" so she can be included too! We all need time alone!

  3. I love the idea of calling it Daddy Night! My kids love it too because there is almost always ice cream...

  4. Can I just say AMEN!! I think we tend to be to hard on ourselves. Now that all my kids are in school..I use some time everyday to do something I enjoy and look at what I accomplished whether it was the mounds of laundry on the floor or sewing a skirt. Really great post Melissa!

  5. Great advice, deary! I always joke that I don't hardly leave the house and the truth is, I don't. My "oxygen" is music, specifically Praise and Worship. If I can have music while I wipe noses, prep dinner and change diapers - I can get up the next morning and do it all again. With two small ones I'm blessed to be able to spend each moment with them but believe me I totally look forward to nap time & 8:30 p (bedtime)! I've also had to find peace in the small things like putting off laundry till they are in bed and folding clothes while I watch "my Grey's" I have dvr'd or HGTV (my obsession) or a rerun of Gilmore Girls. & honestly I usually do my grocery shopping at midnight when the kids are in bed and I go pick up a coffee drink and slowly. very slowly and calmly browse up and down the aisles at Winco. Just a few ideas :)
    xoxo, The Lady of the House

  6. Awesome thoughts and I couldn't agree more. Finding a balance is key. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Very good post. My kids are pretty much grown now and I can take time that I never felt I was able to before. Unfortunately I still feel guilty if I take time for me instead of doing things for everyone else. Thanks for reminding me it's OK to please myself too.

  8. This is a great post, Melissa.

    The oxygen analogy is a good one. There's plenty of oxygen; you're not depriving your child of oxygen by placing your own mast first; you're insuring that you remain a strong caregiver for him. Likewise, you're not depriving your child if you spend some time doing whatever helps you to live and thrive; you're insuring that you remain a strong caregiver for him.

    If there's an activity that keeps you sane, gives you energy, helps you to feel alive and well--then your family will certainly benefit from your taking some time to do it.

    As an older mom, I'll just add this word to moms of very small children: Remember that this time is a season in your life, and it will pass quickly. During the season in which you have tiny tots, you really may not get to do as much of the things you want to do as you'd wish. That's okay: you can say, "I can only devote x number of hours to this right now, but I will do more of it at another time." The important thing is that you take SOME time to do it now. You will in fact have more time to yourself when your kiddos are a little older, and that time will be here more quickly than you'd ever think. Your challenge is to spend enough time on yourself now to keep yourself healthy and happy. That's not depriving your family--that's blessing them!

  9. Amen sister, I know exactly what you mean. I used to wander the Barnes & Noble aisles ALONE with a coffee when my kids were babies, it kept me sane!!! I also will go to a late night movie by myself, that helps me check out a bit. I find a refreshed and reenergized mom makes for a happier home, so yes, take time for yourself to pursue your passions! Great post girlfriend.

  10. Awesome analogy, Melissa!!! My husband works a LOT, and I feel like the *free* time I do get is devoted to getting extra errands run, cleaning, or going to meetings. I made a point to stay out later on Friday night after my meeting. The kids were in bed anyways, and I went to Target and Borders all by myself and browsed. It was great. :)

  11. What a heart-warming post. And what a sad reason for its inspiration. My heart went outto that lady. When I had four children under six,it was *really* hard to fit in time for me. I did do it but it couldn't help feel the time was somehow squeezed in.

    I like your Thursday evening idea!


  12. Jeananne Lybbert10/4/10, 12:31 PM

    Beautifully put! One of the best pieces of advice I've heard. Even though I'm past the point of small kids at home, I still need time for myself so that my home is fully "oxygenated"!!!

  13. i find this to be some very good advice...

  14. Although my husband and I are "empty-nesters", since I have been preparing for a new career in Real Estate, I have felt guilty about not studying for that every spare minute. But, I have recently done a lot of thinking about it and come to the realization that each of us has to make time for ourselves, no matter what stage we are at in Life. And that is nothing to feel guilty about! I KNOW this....have KNOWN this for a long time, in fact. When I was a stay-home mom, I utilized Mother's Day Out at church to get some quality "Jane Time". But, for some reason, it's a lesson that I need to be reminded of over and over. Thanks for putting it into words!

  15. I really love this post!! I have a crazy passion for reading and if I don't have a book to read I feel empty. Sometimes my reading time consists of locking the bathroom door and reading while using the restroom so I get five minutes without the kids banging down the door. Thanks for making me realize that I deserve more that than to read my books!!

  16. Great post! I couldn't of said it any better. Been there, done that, and can oh so remember the feeling your reader expressed. You give very good advice. You have a talent for writing that is for sure. And the comments were insightful as well, thank you.

  17. It's only now in my early 40's that I realise how important it is to make time for me. I have just recently converted my house cleaning to the motivatedmoms.com schedule and this has removed some of the guilt and is allowing me time to have some fun, usually with paint brush or paper in hand!

  18. This is right on time for me. I just started a group with some friends to cheer each other on . Giving each other a boost to do the things that we really want, not just what's neccessary. Thanks for sharing this. It really validated things I had been thinking about.

  19. I totally agree! You have to find what makes you tick and make time for it! I have tried to tell this time and time again to women that I go to church with. I am in the military and most of the husbands are deployed, but I try to encourage the mom's to get their kids on a schedule and get them to bed the same time every night so they can have "alone" time! Without it, you will go absolutely insane! I love the idea of Daddy's night (I might have to talk to my hubby about doing that), but if daddy isn't available I hope every women at least takes that time each night to do something that they love!

  20. great post. It took me a little until we had our second child to realize the importance of "me time". I always felt guilty or that the time could be used more wisely. It took my husband trying to kick me out by signing me up for a night class to realize that it's important to get me time once a week. Now I'm back in school and loving it. My husband and my kids love their weekly time together.

  21. Fantastic advice, I hope your reader finds time for her and the home her family lives in. She won't regret it!!!

  22. It's SO hard to find time! SO hard. And I think it gets even harder the older the kids get, I hate to say! I don't have one night a week where I could get away without taking someone someplace or picking someone up...it's not like when the kids were younger. Which I know is not encouraging to anybody! :) I used to treasure my one night out...
    Great post Melissa!

  23. I've spent a lot of time with myself lately because all 5 of my kids are in school...how wonderful I have felt to have a lot of me time! Other Moms are missing their kids and don't know what to do but for me rather than be sad I've gone and re-discovered who I am. We bought a horse a year ago and the last week I've been spending a lot of time at the barn riding by myself (not sharing the horse like I usually do), I've started running and exercising, grocery shopping by myself and enjoying every minute of me time...sometimes I start to feel guilty and then I remember that I deserve it! I had 3 kids in diapers at one time and 5 kids ages 7 and under...I've put in my dues and I still do a lot for them. We Moms need to stop feeling guilty for not doing enough for our kids. Instead I'm showing my kids how to set goals and then set out to accomplish them! What you focus on expands so focus on the things you can change and not on the things that you can't!


  25. Brilliant, Brilliant!
    Thanks for sharing, another fantastic post!

    I'm glad you love to share your oxygen with the rest of us. Your blog!

    I love that you enjoy blogging, share mom stuff, home decor ideas, and how to be thrifty.

    I continually enjoy your blog. It helps me breathe too!

  26. I really needed this. As a new mom of a busy 1 year old boy, and a husband in law school I feel guilty when I'm not cleaning. I think it is time I put down the gloves and scrapbook!

  27. A friend shared this post with me, and I'm glad she did! Both the post and comments have many nuggets of wisdom in them. Thanks!


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