Tuesday, March 8, 2011

How Do You Find "Refreshment"?

This is me.

At the hair salon.

On July 16, 2010.

235 days ago. 7 months, 20 days ago.

I was 8 months pregnant with Whitman.

That was a loooong time ago.


That was the last time I got my hair cut. Or had my grey covered. Or read People magazine while I sipped a Starbucks mocha in absolute peace. Or laid back in a comfy chair and had my hair washed.

I didn't really plan on waiting this long. It's just expensive and I have kind of boring hair - long, straight, and other than the fact that grey is colonizing and expanding from east to west and north to south all over my head, heading to the salon is generally not something I think about much.

I'm going to get my haircut today, and saying "goodbye" to the grey. I'm really looking forward to a few hours of pampering. As I made my appointment last week, I started to think about how little I do things like this. And, how every time I come home from a few hours away from all of my children, my husband, and all of my responsibilities - I feel so wonderfully refreshed.

But, I just don't take time to get away very often.

I am very, very rarely away from my children and husband to do something "for myself".

That is in part - very deliberate. I love being at home. My hobbies and activities and things that I really enjoy - are all things centered around home. Cooking, baking, blogging, even photography - I don't need to venture out much to enjoy those things.

And, while my hobbies center around home, I know that's not the case for everybody. I think one of the best things mothers can do is to have a hobby or two - one or two things that remind us (and our husbands) that we're not just "worn out, tired, baby carrot-coated Mommies".

But, there is something, a way of thinking about time away, that has always rubbed me the wrong way.

It goes something like this:

- "Well, my husband just KNOWS that I need a break and WE JUST HAVE THIS AGREEMENT that I'm getting out two nights a week."

- "I have got to have "ME" time!"

- "When he gets home from work, I hand the kids over and I'm OUTTA there."

- "I called him at work and said, 'Don't even bother turning the car off when you pull into the garage. I'm leaving to get out of here the minute you get home.'"

I have heard (or overheard), verbatim, every single one of those statements. And, some of them from women I really respect as mothers.

I understand those statements. I do. I understand, most of all, what's behind them. Motherhood is exhausting, labor-intensive, mentally challenging, emotionally draining work. Every day. Every minute.

But, I just can't be like that. I don't want to be like that. There is an attitude expressed in those statements that communicates an entitlement that I'm not convinced a mother is - well, entitled to.

Regular, twice-a-week outings with friends?

Dumping the kids on my "just pulled into the driveway", hard-working husband?

Me. Me. And, oh yeah, ME?

There must be a grace-filled way to approach a mother's desire for time away. There must be a way - somewhere in between "exasperated entitlement", and very, very rarely.

I guess this is the question I've been struggling to answer:

How, as a Mom, can I find times of refreshment - time that serves to nurture a healthy, loving, and gracious attitude towards my family that is only strengthened through time away from them?

I know that these times make me a better mother. They make me grateful for my family, they help me to feel like a woman when motherhood drains that. They remind me that I'm Jason's wife and lover, a friend and sister, a girl who has fun shopping for new clothes and who loves to belly laugh and can I get a WHOOP WHOOP? - I'm a girl who loves to GET MY ROOTS DONE!

So, in the spirit of wanting to hear some different perspectives on "time away", can I ask you:

What kinds of things do you do to find "refreshment"? Do you have regularly scheduled time away from your kids? How often? To my friends who are more experienced Moms, do you have some wisdom to share on this?

As I walk out the door for some much needed refreshment of my own, I'd love to hear your thoughts.


  1. Well, I wasn't pregnant, but the last time I got my hair cut was January 1, 2010. I'm not even going to figure the number of days, much less hours! I was supposed to get about 4 inches off and ended up with 10 inches off. Now it's almost back down to my waist. It could use a trim, but I only want a couple of inches off. I'm scared to go after last time!

  2. It's funny to read this, because I have said these same things to my husband. Yes, being a wife / mom is busy and tiring. But being a father / husband (the "right" kind of father / husband) is not always easy, either! So, who am I to demand time for me, me, ME without sounding like those preschoolers we're trying to raise to not be so self-centered?

    I have found that being recognized as being busy by those at home with me is often the "refreshment" I need. Because I like being able to relax at home - instead of having to run away. So I appreciate it more when my husband can say, "Hey, guys, Mom is reading (or on the phone, or on the computer, or in the kitchen), give her some space" and then takes care of their particular need himself. Besides, I think it teaches our kids a better lesson when they learn that just because mom is home does not mean she is a slave - and it teaches them that sometimes they can WAIT or learn to do it themselves.

  3. Awe Sarah this is why I love you, you have such a conviction and passion for Motherhood. I hear you girl! Now that I am a stay at home mom, I hardly ever step away from my buddies and when I do go out I usually take it as an opportunity to have one on one time with my boys (big one included). But I did just recently go to the out let mall to stock up on some summer essentials and John told me to go ahead and leave the boys.

    But I totally understand where you are coming from, I really enjoy being at home with my family. I can't help it and it's not like John doesn't let me do what I want, it's just that I choose to be with them:) Enjoy your time getting your hair done, you deserve it!

  4. I totally identify with you on this one- but i DO get out a couple times a year for a weekend or loooong day, once for women's retreat with the church, and i TRY to take a looong saturday for scrapbooking (got one coming up in april- yay!) but since i started working, it's been sooo different and i haven't liked the few times i got home and wanted to walk right back out... i do have a little more of that 'entitlement' feeling, that i know i shouldn't have, i need to get over it.... lately i find joy in taking chloe to play at a girlfriend's house with her kiddo, so i get mommy time and she gets playtime all in one, in a small setting like that where there's just a couple kids it has worked good.

  5. ok, so i'm sitting here with my own grey battle going on (which i'm losing by the way- grrrr expensive salon prices) and i can't help but smile as i read your heart.

    oh how i understand sarah!

    yes, yes, and YES we as moms need some refreshing time but, like you, i find that i get that time in different ways at home with the hobbies i enjoy.

    one thing i do look forward to every night is the time right after dinner. my husband generally does the nightime routine with the kids (baths, story, bed) while i get some peace and quiet in the kitchen cleaning up after dinner. yup. that's right i actually look forward to doing the dinner dishes because i am alllllllllll by myself :)

    i try to get together with friends for playdates to keep my brain sane on a weekly bases:)
    {for me} i think it's so important to get out and be just sara. not mommy. but just sara. so i try to get out for a late coffee date (after the kids are in bed) with hubby or friends a couple times a month.

    ahhh the balancing act of motherhood... looking forward to seeing more comments on here to get other mom's ideas and perspectives :)

    have fun getting your hair done!

  6. Sarah, you truly are a girl after my own heart. I too, love L-O-V-E being home with my family. I am to be honest an introvert and really don't find it all that refreshing to go out with the girls all the time. I do, however, find from time to time, it is quite refreshing. I don't have a set schedule or set night. Our calendar is too full for that and Scott's work schedule changes too often for that. I try and fit a night out with a friend every now and then.. maybe every other month or something.. like I said, no set schedule, but when it works and I greatly enjoy it. On the same token I try to give Scott that same luxury. Just b/c he works all day outside of the home, does not mean he needs a break any less than I do. I try to make sure he has time for an occasional poker night or sailing race also. I think this has been good for both of us.
    I have also started running again.. even if it is on the treadmill after the kids are in bed and only 2x a week... it has helped me feel so rejuvenated to have a goal to work towards and have some time to just run off some steam alone for a bit.
    Hope you enjoy your afternoon!!

  7. My girlfriends and I usually plan 2 shopping trips every year, once in the spring and once in the fall. These trips are to buy clothing for our kids (and ourselves) for the coming seasons. We make a whole day of it and usually go out for a quick lunch and then also for a nice sit-down quiet dinner. I sooo look forward to these outings b/c I agree, every mother needs a little time to have fun and enjoy life too. We also get together once a month to scrapbook together. We usually meet at one of our homes and bring our kids along as well so that they can have an all-afternoon play date together. This is also one way to get some time with the girlfriends, get my scrapbooking caught up AND the kids enjoy it by getting to play with their friends as well. It's a win-win situation!!

  8. I think we need to remember that just because one mom does get refreshed away from her kids, doesn't make her a worse mom than the one who rather be at home 24/7. I think we have to be very careful to understand that we are all different and we have different needs/desires/passions and dreams and we can't judge one or the other because they differ from our own.
    I do think there needs to be balance. I do think we as mothers need to find whatever makes us happy...a hobby etc, because when we make the time to pursue those, we are actually becoming a better person and mother in general. I also believe we are showing our kids that it's ok to have a dream, a goal...something we enjoy that is important to us. I think it teaches them that we are here to nurture, love, guide, protect, teach...not be a 24/7 maid,taxi driver, cook etc. It teaches them to respect us as a person...not just mom...the lady who does everything for me. It helps them to learn value in people and there distinct interests and personalities.
    Most of all I believe it is important that we as women do not judge, critique, or question, other women and the way they think.
    I agree that we are certainly not entitled to time away just because we are mothers, and I believe that fathers/husband should have "their time" as well. My husband and I have an understanding that we both need time to pursue other things we enjoy as well...he likes to golf so I try to make the time to allow him to do that and vice versa. It's respecting one another as individuals as well, outside of being "mom" and "dad." It works for us. It makes us well rounded, happier people which in turn makes us better at fulfilling the gift of being a mother and father.
    Please understand, I love, adore, cherish being a mother. It is my heart and passion. But there are other things that I believe God has placed in my heart that aren't there just to sit, but to grow and be nurtured as well...writing, reading, creating...and thats ok! I'm learning that's ok! :)

    I have read your blog since you were pregnant with your 2nd and I think this might be the first time I've commented, and that is because this has been something I've been thinking a lot about as well.

    Thank you for the thought provoking post and question! :)

  9. I tend to be a highly social person, so often my "me" time is really time with friends or family. One of my best friends is currently living in England, and my hubby is great about sending me into the bedroom with my computer so her and I can have some uninterrupted "skype" time to catch up. Also, one of the most refreshing things for me is coffee or even just a walk with girlfriends.

    I don't schedule anything regular, but probably end up doing something once a week or so, even if it is just quick coffee with a friend on a Saturday morning while I'm out running errands.

    Also, I think there is a huge attitude shift in everything in life when you are running towards something as opposed to running from something. I NEVER want to come across like I am running FROM my family, because that is not the case. It's more like I am running towards some times of being refreshed so that I can be the best I can be.

  10. I am probably one of those people you are talking about. I think my mommy friends think that I spend a lot of time away from my kids but I really need it. I am such a happy person around my kids with lots of patience if I get a lot of 'me' time. I play tennis twice a week, once where my husband watches the kids at night and once during the day when i get a babysitter. I did have to limit myself to 2 nights a week out because I am the type of person that over-commits and can't say no. I'm invited to lots of moms nights out and such but i try and limit that to once a month and then a volunteer group...gosh I could go on and on.

    I'll tell you what I don't like to hear..my friends talking about how they've "lost themselves" and their "identity". What does that mean??? Maybe if they took some time for themselves and an activity (like I play tennis) then they would feel the love that I feel for being a Mom. I know who I am and I love all of me...wife, mom, tennis player, volunteer, etc.

    I know of 2 divorces going on right now where the woman is 'sick of it being about everyone else' and is 'ready to be selfish'. Maybe I'm preventing that feeling by taking some time for myself every week.

    Sorry this is long but you touched a cord because of someone just telling me they lost their 'identity'.

  11. I should also add that my husband plays golf 2 - 3 saturdays a month and that is practically the whole day away so he definitely gets his 'me' time too. :-)

    We had kids very late in life so maybe that is why we feel this way we didn't get married till we were 35...we had too long living the life as single adults doing whatever we wanted. ;-)

  12. ha ha! I got my hair cut last may (?) and I'm finally going on Thursday. I'm just like you. Don't get away much, don't crave it often :)

  13. I think the thing to remember is how you go about getting your 'me' time. The women who throw the kids at their husbands as he comes in the door aren't really doing themselves any favors. I don't know about you but I sure wouldn't have a good time, knowing my husband is resentful of the way I treated him and therefore not very patient with the kids. (and he is probably just as tired after his day at work as his wife is after a day of working at home)
    I was never one to go out a lot when the kids were young, but if I was planning something, just making sure Bob didn't have something planned and telling him ahead of time that I was going out was the way we handled it. Of course - he did the same thing when he had plans.

  14. I find refreshment or me time by being in a bible study and prayer group. That to me is very refreshing in more ways than one.
    I also find refreshment...during the day (when I am not working outside the home) when my kids are at school by: reading books, exercising, going for a walk, getting together with friends for coffee, going shopping. It's also refreshing to get a nap in every now and again.

    I love to spend time with my family. That is why I am a stay at home mom.
    I like me time, but I also think it is important for my husband to have his time too.
    It also very important to us to have lots of family time together too!

  15. I never had that kind of time until my kids were about middle school age and I had one night a month with my home group gals. We had coffee together and vegged.

    My down time was my bath. It was 15 minutes each night, but it was a time to relax, read a devotional, and recoup.

    Once my kids were in high school I started attending a weekly Bible study. It was really just what I needed to get the extra boost to be the best mom I could be which was not easy many times.

    Now my favorite "me" time is spent with my girls rather than without them. It's the highlight of my life as you know.

  16. I am not really concerned with "me" at this time in my life. I love being at home and I love spending time with my family. I just wish I had more time to spend with just my husband. I work full-time from home, but I don't get to do my paying job until my husband gets home from work. So, that means I have absolutely no free time-I take of the kids and house during the day and then I spend every night of the week working. I guess the only "me" time I get is in the shower and maybe blogging and reading the blogs I follow. But I do understand women who need "me" time-I just think it needs to be done with the right attitude :)

  17. I'm a newly divorced mom who works full-time outside the home so I not only relish time at home, I also relish time with my sweet son who is also gone from home for a large part of the day. That said, I no longer have the advantage of "tag teaming" parenting with a husband so it's me 24/7 with little down time. The only time I am alone in any given day is sleeping, driving to and from work and after my son goes to bed. I also don't have any "tag teaming" when it comes to keeping up my house so most of my time after my son goes to bed is taken up with house chores. So, here's what I do to create an oasis that is fairly unimpactful to my time with my son:
    1. I work to enjoy certain house chores like folding laundry, putting fresh sheets on beds and vacuuming.
    2. I use my lunch hour at work to do little "me" things once in awhile like get a manicure, meet a friend for lunch, eat out once a week by myself and read a book, and yes...I even grocery shop one lunch hour per week and LOVE it. When I was married, and still even now, I'm very inclined like you, Sarah, to want to be home with my family...as it was then and as it is now. I'm happy to be able to have the means to support my son, have a home I can keep and take care of. Sometimes I so wish to be able to stay home and not do the corporate treadmill routine, but this is where I'm at and I try to make the most of it. GREAT post! I've loved reading all the comments.

  18. My "mommy time" is usually my weekly trip to the grocery store. And once a month, I do a little shopping when I go to therapy. I schedule Daddy and Little Boy's haircuts together, and my daughter and I go at another time together.

  19. Two times a week!?!? I'm not sure I went out that much when I wasn't a mom!

    One thing my husband does for me, which I GREATLY appreciate, is maybe one night a week, after we eat dinner as a family, he plays with the kiddos in the playroom while I go up and take a NICE, HOT shower! About 20 minutes later he brings the kids up and we do the bedtime routine together. Its not a big thing, timewise, and I'm not leaving the house, but that shower is so relaxing and refreshing for me after a long day!
    Oh, and last time I got my hair professionally cut was sometime in 2009...

  20. I just read everyones comments and it seems like I'm the only one that takes time for my interests a couple times a week. I think I was just raised that way, so I don't think tht I am selfish but maybe it looks that way to others, I don't know.

    My parents are awesome and we are very close, I think I had an amazing childhood but they were extremely social (out a lot) and took several trips a year without us. My sisters and I found a picture of them in the Caymen Islands and the date was July 1974...well my sister was born in May 1974. I asked what they did with us (I was 3 and my middle sister was 3 months old) and they said their neighbors who where their good friends watched us. We were amazed.

    So maybe that's just ingrained in me to be constantly on the go. I really enjoy my kids and love being a stay at home mom! I wish I could be more into crafts and cooking and such. I think you all that are good at that are awesome! I read your blogs because I'm envious of your skills. :-)

    Hopefully this explains a little about why someone like me is on the go all the time.

  21. I love this post! I've not read any of the comments yet (I see there are a lot) because I don't want to influence what I write here. I'm not going to say that I've NEVER said "get me outta here" or "I'm leaving and I won't be back for a few hours" to my husband because I've probably said those things and more. However I do agree with you that even in those times away, when I just left the chaos, I want to go back. Sarah I only have one boy, one child that God granted to me, and I love him more than anything, I can't imagine 4 boys and I commend any mother who can tackle more than one with the gracious attitude that you have. But that's just me, that's how I like I like it; me, my husband, and my son. So when I want "time off" I want my husband and son to be with me. Maybe it's just to get dinner at the mall, or take my son to the library (we love that!), or even a day at our parents' house. I don't consider my "time off" to be by myself, I just prefer that we not be at home =) I LOVE THIS POST!! Oh and it's been almost a year since I've had my hair cut....April I believe =)

  22. Really interesting thoughts, everyone! I'm loving this discussion and learning what works for so many of you. Thank you all for sharing!

  23. One of my favorite quotes is "those with no fires within themselves cannot warm others" (Ben Franklin). As parents, it is important to keep ours stoked to be good, effective, loving, attentive people, however we balance that while giving our kids what they need first.

    If some people need some extra time, why do we, as a blog community, need to judge them? I'm sure no one meant to come off that way, but aghast comments like "two times a week?!" can be hurtful for people going through introverted seasons or having different ways of getting their energy back.

    There is so much pressure to be the perfect mom, especially in blogland where we all post our best pictures of our cleanest rooms, our most beautiful bread, in order to illustrate our best days. I would hope we can have these incredibly important discussions without being judgmental or hurtful.

    I am a long time reader and don't comment, but this is such an important topic.

  24. i loved this post my friend! it is so so true.

    i am horrible about taking time for myself. i like being with my family but i know it is important to get time to refresh. i just don't like coming home to a bigger mess than when i left.... they are working on it :o)

    i don't get out on a regular basis, even my hair appointments involve kids coming along. i can find refreshment at home. if i can sneak off one night every once in a while to watch a movie or read by myself in the bedroom it can do wonders for me.

    i think each person is SOO different in the time they need to refresh and the way they can get that refreshment.

    i enjoyed the comments and discussion. it is definitely important as you can tell with so many people commenting.

    thanks for sharing your heart my friend. enjoy getting your hair done :o)

    btw- i LOVE all your pictures you post...awesome.

  25. I am currently on a retreat team that meets once a week, so I am gone for three hours for that. It is a real sacrifice for my family because we are in the midst of softball/baseball season and it takes some juggling to make it work. The retreat is three nights, four days, so that will also be tough on my family. But my husband and I have both been involved in this ministry for seven years and the fruits make all the time away very worth it. I do get a haircut every six weeks, and color every other appointment, but I do my best to schedule that at a time that is not too intrusive on my family.

    Otherwise I do not have regularly scheduled activities, but my husband and I try to maintain a good give and take of time away. He has recently (finally) purchased digital recording equipment and keeps it at his work office. So at least once a week he goes up there in the evening, after dinner and a little family time, to play music. This renews him and music is one way he connects to his spirituality so I try not to begrudge the time.

    I agree with you that time away does renew us and help us go about our daily vocation better. I also agree that our attitude needs to be one of charity and seeking what is best for the whole family, not just ourselves. I think regular discussions about where we are and what we need and what our family needs is important to finding the right balance. Remembering that nothing is permanent helps a lot in those really intense seasons.

    I hope you enjoyed your time!