Parenting worries: You will never have a moment to yourself again

I know parenting is ripe for hyperbole. The problem is, in my hormone-riddled state, I’m liable to take such words literally. So if you’re a parent, or know anything at all about parenting, then please step up and let me have it. Your comforting words, I mean.


You will never have a moment to yourself again.

I hear this a lot, from every parent. Even the ones I consider rational and chill, the ones who don’t peddle in the “your life is over” cliches that some parents throw around when they’ve given up trying to say anything meaningful. And if the rational and chill parents say it then it must be true.

But you don’t mean it literally… do you?

Here’s the thing – I really, really like moments to myself. They are some of my favourite moments of all. And the thought of never having another one makes me break out in hives.

Maybe this is sanity-preserving denial talking here, but I can’t actually imagine it to be entirely true.

Realities I believe:

1. Parenting is a very demanding job, especially while your kid is young and entirely dependent on you in order to stay alive. You need to be constantly alert to their needs – needs that are many and varied and confusing and occur at inconvenient time intervals.

2. Kids sleep. More than adults.

3. The kid in question also has a father with two capable hands, even if he does lack boobs.

Despite the total overwhelming-ness of truth 1, I would like to believe truths 2 and 3 still add up to some moments to myself. Moments when I can brush my teeth and my hair, when I can linger in the shower for an extra few minutes, when I can stick my face in my dogs adorable fur, when I can soak in some sun at the dog park. Moments when I can indulge in checking twitter and reading the next “22 things that will make you feel like you are understood” list.

But maybe this isn’t what you mean. Maybe you still have physical segments of time that are yours, albeit much smaller ones, but the true cost is a mental one. That even those moments you are brushing your hair you are thinking about your kid. What she might need and when.

This I can begin to understand.

In our household I tend to be the manager. Not the boss mind you, but the manager. The one who keeps track of shit. I try to explain how exhausting it is to John but it’s a difficult thing to communicate; it’s not a chore one can check off a list. It’s not a physical activity that occupies a specified time period. Perhaps this is what parents are trying to express when they say they have no moments to themselves; kids infiltrate your mind even more than your physical space and time. And at that point, the best babysitter or the furthest vacation will not allow you a true moment to yourself.

This might almost be more terrifying, but at least it’s a territory I somewhat grasp. Mental obsessing is well-beaten ground for me.

So parents – be honest. What do you really mean when you say you have no time to yourself?


Posted on August 7, 2013, in Life and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. It’s like you spoke my mind. Recently, I’ve become concerned and overwhelmed with how majorly my life is about to change with the arrival of this baby. And I think I am more overwhelmed because I don’t actually KNOW how it’s going to change. I’ve made a conscious effort to stay away from blogs and articles that exemplify parenthood as an all-encompassing activity, with no time left for anything else in life. I just can’t believe that it is true.

    So, I’m not a parent yet, and I can’t give you my perspective on this, but I am looking forward to hearing what all the wise parents have to say about this.

  2. At first parenting is really physically demanding. Babies feed every 2-3 hours and that’s from start of feed to start of feed. In the first weeks, Frances’ feeds lasted around 45-60 minutes (we had trouble feeding, I’m sure this isn’t the case for everyone), which means you have maybe 1-2 hours “off” in between in which to sleep or eat or go to the bathroom. So at that point I would say I didn’t have any time to myself because every minute was geared towards keeping her or me alive in some way. But that period is blessedly short. We started a nap schedule around 2 months, and then I had blocks of daylight hours to “myself”. Yes, a lot of them were spent sleeping or doing laundry, etc, but I could also read books or play on the internet or watch TV. Do ME stuff. And by the time I went back to work (when she was 4.5 months old), she was going to bed at 6:30, which gave us a good chunk of time in the evening. So you have ME time, but it’s also at home time. I can’t just run out during nap time, unless Jami is also home.

    I definitely don’t feel like I never have a moment to myself, although I do have fewer than I used to and there is another level of logistics to figure out if I want to do something. Want to get my hair cut? I need to make sure that Jami is around and up for solo parent duty. At 1 1/2, Frances is pretty good at entertaining herself for stretches of time, but she still needs a fair amount of supervision, so sometimes she’ll be playing and I’ll be reading a book near her, just checking every few minutes to make sure she isn’t quietly climbing furniture or eating crayons or pulling cords out of sockets. Yes, she takes up a fair amount of mental space – both logistical and emotional, but there’s also time that I’m hanging out with her, making sure she’s okay and happy, but mostly thinking about my own stuff. So less time in general, less truly, 100% free time, but still some ME time.

    • Yeah when I imagine the breastfeeding schedule it kind of boggles my mind. How? What? ATTACHED TO MY BOOB FOR HOW LONG?

      • Mine did like to stay on the boob for a long time the first couple months too and I remember laying in bed watching tv a lot. But they’re so small at the age so easily mobile – you can learn how to use wraps that they can nurse in so you can be doing other things at the same time.

      • Really? It’s possible to do that?? You’re amazing.

  3. Ok so… I have a 5 month old and my answer to this is yes and no. When I am on a long walk with my kid, I feel alone. He is a baby. I do not have to interact with him on a constant level like I would with an adult, so there are lots of times where I am caring for my child but I do not have to be mentally THERE. On the flip side… You know how you brought up that your husband doesn’t have boobs? It ends up being a major major difference. Your husband, by default, will not necessarily (depending on your set up) be able to give your baby a major part of its existence for a while. He will not be in demand on the same level as you are, at ALL. He will be there to handle diaper changes and to take the baby so you can shower, and this ability to handle the baby will continue to grow as your baby gets older.

    During the first 3 months babies are pretty dependent on their food source. Plus you have mommy power (the sound of your heart beat, your smell, etc is very calming and soothing) once baby is not a newborn dad can take on more of the hands on time. Now on weekends I get a morning to myself to read and be in bed. My husband gets a free pass to go to the movies alone while I watch the baby. I can stay out after work and go to a happy hour. It ks really about partnership and managing expectations. The baby part is so relatively short, just keep that in mind. It is an adjustment but you will also change a little bit too. In the end make being a mom what you want it to be. You set the rules. Bottom line.

    • Love this “You set the rules. Bottom line.”

      You might have to remind me of that later. I’m awfully impressionable (and I realize the irony of that statement).

      • When my daughter was 3 weeks old my husband and I went out to an 80’s themed b-day party I did NOT want to miss, it sounded like so much fun. I pumped enough for her to eat and made sure she was ok taking a bottle and my parents watched her. I drank vodka and felt totally like my old self except more of a rockstar because I pushed a baby out of my vag 3 weeks earlier – my husband agreed to get up with her if she woke up soon after I fell asleep. Even though they don’t have boobs, partner support makes a TON of difference.

      • All I can do is re-iterate that you’re amazing. Way to go mom.

  4. I honestly think it depends on the child, your situation (Work/SAHM), and your partner. My child wants to be held 100% of the time – while sleeping, while awake. Just because. So even if he’s asleep, I’m stuck, can’t do anything.My husband isn’t great about thinking about what I might need, time-wise, or whatever. So he’ll go do everything he needs to do, then take over holding the baby….at 11:30 at night. Gee, thanks. Now I have just enough time to pee and go to bed. I have more time now that I work, ironically. Because I can take a lunch break, I can take time off work and do something I couldn’t do if he was there, I can pick him up late from daycare if I need to run an errand.

    I hate that people throw that sentence at moms-to-be, because I don’t think it’s necessarily true for everyone. I know we all give up a large part of ourselves and our lives when we have kids, it is the way. But I think a lot of people are either better at making time for themselves, taking it from their partners if they need it, or don’t have a needy kid. But for me, it’s true. It’s all true. I barely have time to poop, much less exercise, paint my nails, send an email to a friend, etc.

  5. I have tons of moments to myself, they’re just not necessarily when I want them to be. Also I just have the one and she’s still little enough to sleep most of the time. I think a lot of this has to do with being willing to walk away from your kid, too.

  6. “3. The kid in question also has a father with two capable hands, even if he does lack boobs.” Indeed.

    (love this post, and the thoughtful comments!)

  7. At first, totally. The first few weeks (for me, it was around 3 months) it’s nonstop babybabybaby. They’re needy and dependent and just eat all the damn time. I had a really hard time during those 3 months because of how demanding it was. But, I can honestly say, it didn’t last. There are still occasional spurts of neediness (and child doesn’t understand the concept of PERSONAL BUBBLE) but we generally just coexist. I am a SAHM, and I don’t feel like it’s constant kiddo. He’s independent, plays in his room, colors at the desk while I do work or drink coffee and read a book or send email. The one (annoying) difference is there is a lot of stopping to refill milk, to gasp in awe at a lego tower (Look Mommy!). But it’s not constant, and I feel very much like I have my own time to do my own things.

    • And it sounds like some of those interruptions are insanely adorable.

      Those first weeks/months are daunting but I’m hoping with some help (my mom is visiting for a month) I’ll survive. And at least I know it’ll get better.

  8. So in general I’d just tell you to try and not worry! Every baby and mom and situation is different. Mine was by no means an “easy” baby. But they always do nap, at some point. She is 2 1/2 now and still a totally demanding little person, but when she is napping and I’m out on the porch eating lunch I feel so lucky to be a SAHM and actually look forward to her waking up and giving me kisses. I would have to say my biggest fear at this point is that she won’t love me and want to cuddle as much after she gets out of the toddler stage!

  9. Wow, all these thoughtful comments are so interesting and insightful. I have no personal experience, but I refuse to believe that a baby will totally take over… You are still you, and like Lauren said, I think it’s about working together / adjusting / setting the rules. I’ve also read that people become so much more efficient and able to use the free bits of time for ME time, as opposed to the constant procrastination when we’re on our own…

  10. Like a lot of folks have said, I think the hardest thing to reconcile is being the sole source of food. Until you’re in a place where you are pumping and giving bottles, it means you can’t be away from your kid for more than 90 minutes or so, and that’s a big responsibility. That realization hit me like a ton of bricks at one point.
    BUT! There was a sweet spot once I was mostly recovered from my c section but before I went back to work where I honestly had the time of my life. I had this adorable baby who, yes, was completely dependent on me, but he was also totally tote-able. He slept a lot, especially when he was being worn, and DC is amazing for walkability/public transit, so we went EVERYWHERE. I went to museums I’d been meaning to check out, long walks punctuated by stops for gelato or croissants, mommy-and-me yoga… It was really lovely. I felt like I had more “me” time for the last half of maternity leave(I took 3 months total) than I had when I was working before we got pregnant.
    This of course was all dependent on: 1, E being born in March, so the weather was nice most of the time. 2, I was totally comfortable nursing in public, so if we were at a museum or a restaurant and he was hungry I could just feed him there and then. 3, He loved to be worn. Not all babies do.
    So, I think your definition of “me” time might need to change a little bit, but it certainly doesn’t have to go away completely. You should punch anyone in the face who says this to you.

    • I have another friend who described maternity leave this way – apparently it is possible! And sounds like your flexibility and willingness was one key to making it happen (also the kid’s but we have less control over that).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: