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April 25, 2005



Dear Emily,
There is hope! As a mother of school age children, I can tell you there is light at the end of the tunnel - even though it doesnt feel like it right now. My suggestion for the guilt (and heck, girl, I KNOW about that!!) is to remember that unless you care for yourself, you cannot be fully present for your family. If you continue to have no time for YOU, your time with your family will suffer.

I find it really valuable to turn the guilt around and say that I am actually being selfish if I DONT make time for myself.. because otherwise I am not being the best mother/wife/whatever that I can be.

Once you change your way of thinking about the guilt, I think you will find that opportunities magically appear for you to take 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or even an hour for yourself some days! Let me know ...


I have two boys, and I used to steal time during the younger one's nap. Since he dropped his nap a few months ago, I get it mostly on the weekend. My husband will usually take them to play at some point on Saturday, and we all try to relax together on Sunday although that doesn't always work. I get a little time in the evenings, I try to do a 20 minute clean up/prep for tomorrow and that's it. I use a timer to prevent me from slaving the night away.

It sounds like you may be pushing yourself to hard. Maybe it's time to re-evaluate the schedule. I don't know if this would work for you, but maybe someone could take over for you one night a week so you can go to a cafe, bookstore, movie.... You do have to claim the time, make yourself a priority. Good luck!


Maybe you can find another mom to swap an hour or 2 even once a week. An hour or 2 to exercise, walk, go to the coffee shop, bookstore, or library by yourself - it's amazing how much that can recharge you! I'm sure there is another mom around who would appreciate it as much as you. Plus, it doubles as a playdate for your kids - w/o the pressure to entertain another parent!

When my oldest was an infant, I felt like I was "imposing" on my husband to watch him for a few hours every other week or so. Turns out he loved it - and still does, 9 years later. It's good for the kids too - just because he does things differently than you doesn't make it wrong, and the kids love it - gives them a chance to have a relationship separate w/him separate from you.

Being "on" 24/7 can be tiring mentally more than physically - even if it's not regularly, try and grab a few hours here and there!


I get "me" time as necessary (and I'm at work all week while my husband stays home), and my husband and I also make sure that we have "us" time. At the weekend, he'll take Kellan shopping or out to the park so that I can get the house cleaned, email some digital photos, balance the chequebook. All the stuff that becomes ridiculously complicated with a toddler at your feet (or attached to your legs -- often biting!). And our rule is that after 9pm on any day of the week, we spend time together. No more chores, no phone calls, no computer. Everything must be done before 9pm. At that point we can watch some tv, play a game, chat, cuddle, or do other things (you know what I mean). But from 9pm until bedtime every night is our child free time to be "us" again.


If my daughter sleeps until 7:00, I have maybe thirty minutes to myself between 6 and 6:30. Otherwise, nothing. Lunchtime at work is spent getting a little exercise since I'm wiped out by then or writing, which is really work (I work full-time and am a writer).


it's definitely hard to find that time, and like Kat said, even work time isn't really your time if you're away at work.

for me, I have a caring and thoughtful husband who often lets me just have alone time - in the house or out of it - and that helps. when I was a single parent to my older son, his father's parents would gladly take him for an evening.

but the part that you'd have to work on is the feeling guilty part (it's easy to say "don't feel guilty" but hard to not actually feel that way).


I'm lucky to get an hour in the evening and only because I thrust the baby into my husband's arms and snarl, "It's your turn!" My baby has also started waking up in the middle of the night again so I don't even get prolonged snooze time anymore. I have baby-free time at work but I don't consider that "my time", either. Sometimes my parents or the in-laws come over and volunteer to help out and mind the baby while the hubby and I go out but that has its own sets of stresses and irritations.

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