Ask Scary Mommy is Scary Mommy’s new advice column, where our team of “experts” answers all the questions you have about life, love, body image, friends, parenting, and anything else that’s confusing you.
This week… how do you react when your husband feels personally attacked by your need for some alone time? How do you explain it’s necessary for you to function? Have your own questions? Email email@example.com
Dear Scary Mommy,
I’m a stay-at-home mom who works part-time a couple of days per week when my husband is home to watch our kids, who are both under five years old and not in school full-time yet. This means that I’m answering to the demands of two small humans 24/7, and when I’m not at home doing that I’m answering to the demands of the customers at the restaurant where I work. This doesn’t leave a lot of time for my husband and me, and it definitely doesn’t leave a lot of time for just…me. I’m an introvert at heart, and I need time to myself to re-charge with TV, books, maybe a dinner out with a girlfriend for an hour or two, or whatever else helps me veg out and feel more like myself. During the evenings where I’m not working, this is what I prefer to do. The problem is my husband takes my need for alone time personally — it’s like he’s insulted I’m not spending every minute of this time with him. He’s not wrong, we need alone time together too. I know that. We just don’t have a whole lot of babysitting options and I’m just so tired and frazzled most days, I don’t have the capacity to organize or schedule time out for us. We fight about it a lot. Do I really need to cut back on my “me time” to keep my marriage healthy?
You absolutely do not need to sacrifice anything that you need to be a happy, healthy, functional human and mother. Ever. Because if you start doing that, you’ll unravel — and no one benefits from that. Not your husband, or your kids, and especially not you.
Moms need alone time. Period. We’re the ones who, typically, are balancing it all: household chores, schedules, grocery shopping, errand-running, and, oh yeah, shouldering a majority of the child-rearing. Alone time gives us the break we crave and need in order to re-charge, and you should absolutely not feel guilty about tending to your needs.
Presumably, since he works outside of the home, your husband doesn’t manage a fraction of what you do on a daily basis. Whether he wishes he could or not is beside the point. Like you said, you’re jumping to meet the needs of your kids all day and customers all night. No wonder you need time to yourself!
If your husband is feeling neglected or taking this need personally, he can take several seats. Yes, you do need time alone together as a married couple. That’s so much easier said than done, I know. But just because he’s feeling personally neglected doesn’t mean you have to keep on neglecting yourself. Sit down with him and, together, try to carve out some alone time for yourself. If that’s an hour to stroll around Target, a happy hour with a friend, a long bath, or simply sitting in a room, alone, and bingeing Netflix by yourself completely uninterrupted for a while — make time for it.
This season of life is totally unforgiving, but it’s temporary. Even if you show up to work 30 minutes early and scroll through your phone mindlessly before your shift starts, that’s something. As a mom with two little ones myself, I can tell you every little bit helps.
Finding a reliable babysitter can sometimes feel like you’re searching for a needle in a haystack. What I’m going to urge you to do is dig around with what local friends or family you have and see if anyone you trust will be willing to come by and hang out with your kids for a couple of hours once a month so you and your husband can eat dinner uninterrupted or go see a movie. Facebook mom groups and sites like Care.com could be a good place to start to find a date night babysitter, too, if you have the financial resources for it. Yes, vetting babysitters will suck up even more time you feel like you don’t have. But the best piece of advice a fellow mom once gave me is to avoid being a martyr with things like this, because the reward is worth it. Children need to develop attachments to other adult figures aside from their parents — it makes them better, more functional humans.
When you can’t escape together, simply sitting on the couch and watching a favorite show or playing a round of cards with a few drinks at home will do. But do not give up your alone time to please everyone but yourself. Those who truly love you will understand and respect your wishes.
Have your own question? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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