Confronting The Lie that We Need Time Away from Our Children

Life with children is full and busy.  There are days when total chaos seems to rule in my home.  It is never boring around here!

Arguments break out.  Two-year-olds throw tantrums.  Sometimes I barely can hear myself think.

At times, I would like to break away!  I’m sure you mamas know how I feel!

It seems like it’s only the right thing to do.  The culture around us even tells us that women should work out of their homes on a daily basis.  Voices say that child-raising should be left to day cares, but this simply is not true.  The Lord created you for this wonderful purpose!

New moms are often startled when they feel like they’ve “lost” themselves, and they must have time alone to rediscover what is missing.  At least that’s what their friends and family tell them.

Mommas, this is a lie.  God in His great mercy has provided us with all we need in this busy season of our lives.  Time alone can rob our family of time that rightfully belongs to them.  It can (not always, but can) bring us to a place where we rely on our “alone time” to fill a void that only the Lord can.  There is nothing wrong with spending time away from our children.  At times it is necessary!  But we must take a look at our motives.  If we want to spend time alone simply because we’ve been told that we “need” to by others, or because we are looking at our children as burdens instead of blessings, than may I gently suggest that we have some heart examination to do.

As moms, we are cup-fillers.  As such, we need our cups filled first.  My mind goes to Susanna Wesley (who was the 25th of 25 children), who had 15+ children, including the pioneers of the Methodist movement.  Whenever she needed a moment alone with the Lord, she would throw her apron over her head and her children knew not to disturb her.  As funny as this sounds, those short minutes with the Lord sustained Susanna, and strengthened her enough to continue her great task of raising her children.

While an hour-long Bible study might not work for the busy mom, little snippets of scripture reading and prayer will.  He will sustain us and give us all that we need right where we are.

I used to be the mom who thought she needed time away from her kids. Through a series of events that only could have been orchastrated by the Lord, I realized that this simply wasn’t so.  I was asked to die to myself, and look to the cross.  Hard stuff! But by God’s grace, I now view time with my family as a privilege that I’m not willing to give up.

I was first convicted of my “me time” mentality while reading “The Me Time Myth” by Amy Roberts in a homeschooling magazine.  Here is an excerpt:

“Me Time is a myth. It is an unattainable, always interruptible, never satisfying piece of junk psychology. Me Time, by its very name, suggests that who we are during the daily grind is not who we truly are. It begs us to search for fulfillment outside of the titles of “wife” and “mother.” It accuses precious little ones and God-given spouses for suppressing us. It reduces motherhood to a disease in which little dirty faces and endless monotonous tasks slowly suck the life out of us. It says we can never be refreshed by spending time in the presence of those we care for day in and day out. It points out a perceived hole in our world that needs to be filled, a tank that must be refueled, a monster that will swallow us if we neglect to feed it Me Time.”

Ouch.  Through this article I learned that weekend getaways and girl’s nights are not a necessity.  Young mother, don’t feel guilty if you’d rather be with your family than away.  The Lord placed the need for you to nurture them within your very being.  Listen to this pull to be with them.

While it doesn’t always feel like it, it really is an honor to be called to serve our families.  The days are long, but the years are short.  I’m so thankful that the Lord has equipped us to do every good work.  Scripture does not say that time away with family and friends are necessary to refresh, but time with Him.  He is everywhere and can meet us right where we are, even when we are with our families.  If you are struggling with this, I hear you.  I have been there!  But praise God for His grace.  The Lord is sufficient and will take care of all of our needs, even as tired mommas.

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea.

Psalm 139:7

13 thoughts on “Confronting The Lie that We Need Time Away from Our Children

  1. livvy says:

    Just a gentle reminder that every mother is different.
    There are many mothers out there who love every moment with their children and cannot picture desiring to get away from them or enroll them in public school.
    There are also mothers, good mothers, loving mothers, who can only take so much of mothering. We all have different thresholds, especially for certain personality types. There is nothing sinful or wrong with getting away for a bit, especially if it is with your hubby. There is nothing wrong with having a bit of “me time” by shopping Target solo or attending a women’s ministry. Especially if it offers your children time with their daddy watching them. Wonderful things happen when daddy gets to parent and mommy gets a chance to recharge her batteries. It is also good for children to learn independence. My children all know how to get their own breakfast so I can sleep in and catch up on much needed sleep once in a while. My children can play outside without me lording over them so I can catch up on chores or read a book in peace and without distraction.

    So, while I agree that we don’t have to fill in an allotment of “get me away from those brats me time,” we all have different thresholds and needs for what empties us and what fills us.

    And it isn’t healthy to be with anyone 24/7/365. Even Jesus took “me time” when people were still hounding Him to get their needs met.

  2. Helene says:

    I have seen moms who are simply being selfish, as you indicated. However I have also seen moms who have selfish children/husband who don’t serve her back. She may indeed have legitimate needs someone should be looking to meet including a few minutes of quiet.

    • Nicole says:

      I totally see your point, but may I humbly suggest that we can only control our own actions. This post was meant to address the selfish attitude of “I must have extended time away from my children, or I’m going to go crazy!”

  3. mareedee2016 says:

    I believe we balance out who God made us to be we will have more to offer our children. God first of course but we do need to put our oxygen mask on first before we place it on our child. We need to tend to our husbands too before our children. I know I wanted to be a mom more than anything in this world and so I was a bit child centered and that wasn’t healthy either. We need to be nurturing who God made us to be. Moms come in a sizes and forms and one is not necessarily superior to another. I know great moms who work full time and great moms who stay home.

    You had some great points. You encouraged me be okay being a mom and setting aside or postponing some of my dreams for a bit in the best interest of my childs well being.

  4. Kondwani Kondwani says:

    I’m thankful for this post! I remember when I had 2 toddlers and a baby, getting very frustrated when friends would coax me to take some ‘me time’, rather than providing any encouragement to serve and honour God through my circumstances (and accept, without moaning, that this is a difficult time of life). (I wrote about it a bit here

    I do find it a lie that modern society brings. Reading through the other comments – yes, each mother is different, each child and each home are different, but God promises to make ‘all grace abound to you so that in all times, in all ways, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work’. Not just survive. Abound.

    We may, from time to time, do things outside the home, or without our children. I do not think that is wrong. (My husband and I work part-time both, and so one of us is always home and we share the homeschooling – but the work I do is very much discussed with him, and done with his encouragement and blessing).

    But I think what it comes down to is motivation. ‘Me time’ implies an entitlement or an expectation, and I do not think that should be there. I have found frustration when discussing tiredness or other challenges, when I feel I am being encouraged to flee from the situation to which God has called me. It’s not that I want to leave, it’s that I want to know how best to honour God when I feel weak, vulnerable and inadequate. Rather than having older women encourage me in my God-given role (as Titus 2), I am more often told to get a childminder and go out for coffee. No thanks.

  5. Leah Courtney says:

    Even though this is a rough message for some to hear, I agree with your post. I’ve often found that when I take “me time” away from the kids, I come back, not refreshed, but resentful that I now have to “turn on” for the kids again.

    If I have some time to myself, I do much better when I treat that as something extra, not as a right I have to “me time”, and I make a purposeful change in my thinking to be thankful for the time I have with my children so that when I come back to them, I’m thankful and appreciative and not resentful.

    I’m stopping by from the A Wise Woman Builds Her Home linkup. 🙂

  6. Gentle Joy Photography says:

    It is so easy to fall into the trap of self pity which seems to have a way out by pampering ourselves. Self pity is a trap. It’s easy to become disgruntled and feel that no one cares, so I have to care about myself (more traps) and the world is quick to point out the worldly “wisdom” to deal w/ that dissatisfaction so that escape seems justified. So many mothers are legitimately tired and exhausted by the heavy and never ending work/drain…. and it is a really good thing to get some extra rest, is possible… as that really helps our focus to be better. Spending time w/ our Lord is so important and He is the Great Sustainer and Encourager. Being thankful in all things can be difficult, but so important. It is also so important that we women seek to encourage each other in whatever part of the parenting process we are in… it is so easy to feel we are competing, but how much better to lift each other up… in person and in prayer. A kind word is all it takes sometimes to encourage a weary mom… and help her “stay the course” without giving in to the lure of the enemy’s solutions.

  7. Rachel says:

    Nicole, I just wondered what your opinion is of parents taking a date night without their children. And do you feel that leaving your children with Dad while going grocery shopping is being selfish? What about requiring older children to lie down in the afternoons so Mom (and children) can recharge? These are ways I “take a break” from my children. I love them dearly, but I think both they and I can benefit from some time away from each other. After all, they will be on their own eventually, and will need to know how to relate to other people without mama. I appreciate many of your views.

    • Nicole says:

      Hi Rachel, what matters is our heart and motivation behind these things. This blog post was talking about the idea that women must spend time away from their children, which simply isn’t true.

  8. Gigi says:

    Agreed and I wrote something about this on my blog, as well, a while back. It is all about the heart and mindset – you can be serving at home full time but with an ungrateful, whiney, pity-party attitude and THAT is no good. However, mothers & fathers do not NEED “me-time” as society suggests and pushes. This life is not our own.

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