How Much “Me Time” Do You Need? How Does This Fit with Date Time and Family Time?

Me TimeParents often feel guilty having me time or even date night we time. They feel they don’t spend enough time with their kids as it is. Or they also report missing their kids so they don’t want to give that time away for “me time” or even date night.

Then I also have parents that see family time as the same as date night. Date night is between husband and wife, not the kids. So how do you maintain a healthy balance between me time, we time and family time?

Let’s discuss the importance of each element and what each does for our balance:

Me Time

Me Time is made up of lots of different types of things that all have to do with down time or our own time: It is about doing things we enjoy alone or with our friends. It rejuvenates us, relaxes us, makes us feel healthy, stimulates our mind, or allows us to chill. It could be going to the gym, going out with our gang, hobbies, sports, reading a book, taking a class, or doing home projects. Sometimes it can be running errands that make you feel productive. It’s about YOU meeting YOUR individual needs. You feel better than you did prior to doing the activity. It is not about being selfish. It’s about BALANCE.

We Time

We Time or Date Night (can be during the day also) allows us to connect with our mate and shut out the rest of the world. It’s not about going to dinner and sitting across from each other without talking. It’s not about Mom and Dad – but each adult as they were when they dated. So no talking about the kids! You NEED this time to reconnect as a couple and to remember why you chose each other and how you value that time together. You shut out the rest of the world and focus on each other. Have fun like when you were dating! You need to PLAY! And Yes, without the kids!

One person can pick something to do and the next time the other person chooses. Another way is for one person to give the other person three choices to pick from and then switch places the next time. It is better if both people really enjoy the event whenever possible. It may not be to the same degree as the other enjoys it, but they still can have fun.

Note: I do not include going out with a group of couples as a date night. Group dating is fine, but you do not end up with as much of the individual connection as a couple.

Family Time

Family Time is time doing things with the kids. It can be playing a board game, going to the beach, taking a family vacation, having a movie night (don’t forget the popcorn!) or whatever your family enjoys doing. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. One parent do something with one child and the next time with another child. And parents can switch off as well. It is a time for everyone to reconnect as a family unit and withdraw temporarily from the busy world. It makes a statement that family is important. Don’t forget to have family time where everyone is together as well. This is very important for family attachment and rituals the kids will remember from their childhood and will then reinforce with their own kids.

Family time also includes grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc when they are involved with the family. When you do your circle exercise you may want to put them in a smaller portion of the family circle and label it extended family. But we will get to this when we discuss the 3 Circle Exercise next time.

The 3 Circles Exercise

Now that you have the concepts down, I will introduce The 3 Circles Exercise in the next Relationship101 Blog. I have developed the 3 Circles Exercise to help you learn how to determine your own three circles of needs and achieve a balance between these three modes.

Action Item:

To prepare for the exercise, begin thinking of activities that would go into each circle. Then begin to think about the size of each circle and how it would compare to the other two circles.

About Susan Saint-Welch

Susan Saint-Welch LMFT has counseled couples and individuals for many years on issues such as dating, marriage, family drama, coping with difficult times, improving self-image and living the life you love. She provides psychotherapy for clients in California and Couples and Life Coaching for clients outside California through secure video conferencing. She has published numerous articles regarding these issues on her website, on YourTango.com and on MSN.com.

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