Why it’s so important for every mum to have me-time

August 08, 2019
  • It's natural to want to escape
    1 / 15 It's natural to want to escape

    When things get busy and chaotic at home, it’s natural to want to escape from everyone for a little peace and quiet. In fact, taking back your personal space is healthy, and something you should do every now and then – not just to recharge your energy, but also to reclaim your sense of self. 

    Dr Lim Boon Leng, a psychiatrist from Dr BL Lim Centre for Psychological Wellness at Gleneagles Medical Centre, says personal space is the area around a person – usually a couple of metres or so – that she would prefer others not to occupy. 

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  • Nothing to feel guilty about
    2 / 15 Nothing to feel guilty about

    You shouldn’t feel bad about having time alone, away from your husband and kids. Dr Lim says that while physical closeness between a couple is desirable, if Hubby demanded this all the time, you would probably get annoyed. An excessive need for physical closeness is also a sign of insecurity and a need for control on your husband’s part – problems that can affect your relationship.

    “Being physically close to your kids is also a wonderful feeling and essential for bonding,” Dr Lim adds. “However, even new mums need personal space. In the early days after birth, excessive closeness can point to an inability to ‘let go’ of your baby.”

    That’s not what healthy bonding looks like, and may indicate the presence of psychological issues.

    (Also read: 6 working parent’s worries: Should you feel guilty?)

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  • Let the kids do things by themselves
    3 / 15 Let the kids do things by themselves

    “As your kids grow older they’ll want to do things by themselves. You should let them, because it allows them to become more independent. Plus, it reduces your stress levels,” Dr Lim says. 

    When you lack personal space because you feel you have to constantly be with your husband or kids, you miss the opportunity to retreat into yourself and focus on your needs. This can lead to frustration, irritability and, not to mention, burnout. 

    (Also read: 7 ways to be a successful mumpreneur or work-at-home mum)

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  • Don’t always put yourself last
    4 / 15 Don’t always put yourself last

    “When everyone at home is clamouring for your attention all the time, it can really sap your energy,” says Daniel Koh, a psychologist at Insights Mind Centre. “This can set you up for a bad day, and whatever negative emotions you experience may build up, resulting in emotional exhaustion after a while. 

    “When you feel that you have to ‘be there’ for others all the time, you tend to put yourself last, or neglect yourself altogether, and this isn’t healthy in the long run.”

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  • Easy ways to reclaim your personal space
    5 / 15 Easy ways to reclaim your personal space

    The good news: You can still enjoy your personal space without leaving your home, or being away from your family, says Dr Lim. You can indulge in all kinds of personal activities in the presence of your hubby and kids, from reading a book or watching a show on your tablet, to doing yoga or craftwork.

    Here are ways to “escape” within yourself, while still being with your family. 

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  • Find activities for your kids to engage in
    6 / 15 Find activities for your kids to engage in

    If their hands and minds are kept busy, they won’t distract you, or demand your attention, as much.

    (Also read: Why these Singapore families take young kids on volunteer trips overseas)

     

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  • Have a shared family area
    7 / 15 Have a shared family area

    This is a space in which you, Hubby and the kids can do different activities, while being together. Dedicate special spots in this area to different members of the family. For instance, there can be a corner for your kids to play with their toys, an armchair for you, and a recliner for Hubby.

    “Teach your kids to respect these physical boundaries,” advises Dr Lim. If having personal space to you means getting the chance to read, then stash your books in this area, so you will start to associate it with words such as “escape”, “retreat” and “peace”.  

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  • Redefine being by yourself
    8 / 15 Redefine being by yourself

    Accept the notion that you can be “by yourself” even when your kids and husband are around you.

    (Also read: Parenting in a multitasking world: How to do it)

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  • Set aside time to stay in this space
    9 / 15 Set aside time to stay in this space

    Let your family members know to leave you alone during this period, unless something urgent comes up.

    Daniel says this is important to avoid interruptions. “Tell your kids to play by themselves or with their dad, and reassure them that you’ll come back to them after, say, 30 minutes. Your husband should support you in this, otherwise the whole process is pointless.” 

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  • What you can do during your time alone
    10 / 15 What you can do during your time alone

    Here are a few ideas you can steal for enjoying your time alone – they’ll give your husband and kids a little space, too.

    Do you find baking or cooking therapeutic? While your husband is watching TV and your kids are doing their homework, experiment with new recipes in the kitchen. 

    (Also read: Easy family recipe: Hainanese chicken rice bento)

     

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  • Apply a mask
    11 / 15 Apply a mask

    Apply a face mask and retreat to your favourite chair for 20 minutes. You can just relax or listen to music while the mask does it work.

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  • If you're into gardening
    12 / 15 If you're into gardening

    If you have a green thumb, dedicate an area in your balcony or kitchen for gardening. 

     (Also read: 7 plants that repel mosquitoes naturally)

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  • Communication is key
    13 / 15 Communication is key

    Head to your quiet spot and send an e-mail to an old friend, or have a phone conversation with someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. 

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  • Stretch out and relax
    14 / 15 Stretch out and relax

    Sometimes, all you need is space to stretch out and relax. Set up a yoga mat in a corner of your family room and use it to practise your poses or just meditate. 

    (Also read: Womb yoga in Singapore: This mum of two tried it and here’s what happened)

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  • Disconnect from your surroundings
    15 / 15 Disconnect from your surroundings

    When the family is watching TV, plug in your headphones and watch a movie on your laptop or tablet.

    A version of this article first appeared in Simply Her.

    (Photos: 123RF.com)

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