As I sit here with the remnants of a glazed donut on the corners of my mouth, my feet up and shoes off, sipping on a beer after a long day at work, I don’t want to do anything. Yet, here I am writing my column I meant to write a good month ago. I guess I should start with an apology to my editors, right? Over the past month, I have seen most, if not all, of my favorite activities, fall to the wayside. Between work and parenting, there hasn’t been much ME time. So, even though I worked a near ten-hour shift, I am exhausted and possibly a bit stinky, I sit here writing.
One of the hardest things to do as a parent, I imagine of any number of children, is setting aside time for yourself. I have gone over the importance of mental wellness before, in a column piece cleverly titled Multiples and Mental Wellness, Excuse me as I read it as well, to make sure I don’t regurgitate an old piece.
I want to talk about the importance of ME time. Well, I guess it’s YOU time, but for the sake of clever column titles, I will stick with ME time.
One thing I noticed about being a parent is the total identity shift. You stop being you and start being your children’s parents. While I love being a parent, it felt like my life ended when my children were born, and it sort of did. I stopped hanging out late with friends and spending frivolously (somewhat, still working on this one). My time became my children’s time.
Now, I don’t know if men can experience things like postpartum anything, but we can be sad. We can see our life changing suddenly and not know how to handle it or like it. We can love our children and miss ourselves. This is where I stood at 21 when I became a father to twins. I love my children; I miss my old life.
My life wasn’t over. It just was over as I knew it. There is no denying having children is the start of a new life. It is beautiful and all that hoopla, it is also change and a hard one to adjust to. Even the biggest perfect parent has to admit it isn’t a smooth transition. Well, maybe they can’t, but I certainly will.
When all was said and done, there I was, 21 years old, two newborns taking up every minute of my free time. I began to lose my identity as Briton. I became “Dad of Killian and Nicolas”. And, while I love them, it sort of sucked. I missed some parts of Briton. I missed some of the ME time I had. What I needed to do was take the two people I was torn between being and combined them into one. It sounds weird, huh? Well, I guess it is.
This was when I started my blog Punk Rock Papa. It was my place to show both my love for inappropriate humor and my children. I began to write, setting aside time each day to tap away at my computer and pour myself into something, not for my kids, but for me. It was an important, a HUGE, step for me both as a person and as a parent. Taking time to do something for myself allowed me to be happier and to be a better parent. Let’s be honest, losing your identity to parenting can, for a lack of a better term, suck.
I think it is good for my children also. I love to write, and I think one day when they aren’t three-year-old terrors, they will see the importance of setting time aside for something you are passionate about and enjoy. We are constantly giving ourselves to our significant others, to our friends, to our job. To our children. Sometimes, we need to give time to ourselves to enjoy a hobby or a passion.
Life doesn’t end when you have children. It’s the birth of a new you. Set aside ME (YOU) time, whether it’s writing or yoga or simply taking a walk, it is important to do things for yourself, so you don’t lose, well, yourself.
As I sit here with the remnants of a glazed donut on the corners of my mouth, feet up and shoes off, sipping on a beer after a long day at work, I take my ME time. Because, well, it’s just as important to good parenting as anything else.
Do you take me time? What is your me time? Try writing. If you do, send it to me! I would love to read it. Talk to me about me time in the comment. Me. Me. Me.
Briton Underwood, better known as Punk Rock Papa, is a parent above all else. When he gets sick of being at his kids’ beck and call, he likes to escape to his Facebook page or website. He writes about any and everything he wants, but mainly about his twin boys or his newest addition—another boy. He also would like the world to know he has a beautiful wife because the couch isn’t that comfy.