Going to extremes
Kristina* gets home from work at the end of a long day and she’s in the house with her children for 10 minutes, before she heads off out to the gym. After she’s worked out, she relaxes in the spa for another half hour. She tells herself her children are well cared for by her husband Raj and her mother-in-law Sonia, and she deserves her time out because she works so hard as a lawyer.
Yet when she eventually gets home after 10pm, everyone is in bed and Sonia has gone home, leaving a note about what the children need for the following day.
“I don’t understand it,” says Kristina, who has sons aged 11 and 14, and a nine-year-old daughter. “I was always stressed, trying to be a good mother and working full-time. I read how we needed time for ourselves and how self-care was important, especially if we worked long hours, so I joined the local health club.
“But now I seem to have grown apart from Raj and I’m afraid we might end up separating. Whenever we talk now, we’re like strangers.
“When I try to catch up with what’s going on with my children, it’s obvious I’ve missed out on so much. They laugh and say, ‘Keep up, Mum!’ but I don’t know where to start. At weekends I feel like an outsider in my own family. It’s easier to go to the gym.”
Experts agree that 39-year-old Kristina has overdone her Me Time, and she has gone from having no time to herself to having no time for her husband and family. She has swapped one problem for another and has put her marriage in jeopardy and lost connection with her children.
So what’s the answer? Is Me Time really just a dangerous, selfish indulgence?
Experts say that Me Time has become synonymous with almost anything we do for ourselves, from using a moisturiser to going to a retreat, and it is something that we all have aspired to as we have tried to have it all – a career, a family, a lovely home and a social life.
But sometimes we can put so much emphasis on the time we spend cherishing ourselves, whether we’re at a yoga class or just people-watching from a coffee shop, that we do it at the cost of important people in our lives, and we go from one extreme to the other. Life coach Sam Skull agrees that while we all need time for ourselves, those who become obsessed with Me Time put key relationships in jeopardy.
“I think that’s why the divorce rates globally are so high,” says UK-based Sam, who runs well-being courses all over the world.
“Men and women who are very career-driven get home in the evening, then go straight back out to the gym or meet friends. They’ve come to believe they need the time out and they deserve it, which they do now and then, but they’ve gone to extremes. As a result, their partners and families feel neglected and, if they are not careful, they begin to drift apart.”
The secret, says Sam, is to get the right balance between Me Time and time with those