Why All Moms Need “Me Time”

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I’m halfway into my fifth book, GIRLFRIENDS’ GUIDE TO TEENAGERS, and I’m overwhelmed and stunned by the issues and crises that raising teens presents. I started this book five years ago when my oldest child, my first son, was about to graduate from high school and his sister was entering her junior year. I was sure that I knew my subject. If only I’d finished the book then…But, no, I waited to test my theories on my next two kids—another boy and girl—who were right behind their older siblings. What a mistake! In the ensuing three or four years all sorts of new dangers were invented. Cyber-bullying, sexting, videochats, Ecstasy, raves and the Kardashians all shoved their way into my younger kids’ world. While in the process of writing my next book, I can’t resist taking a moment to respond to some interview questions from Modernmom.com about how we mothers should take care of ourselves.

I’m halfway into my fifth book, GIRLFRIENDS’ GUIDE TO TEENAGERS, and I’m overwhelmed and stunned by the issues and crises that raising teens presents. I started this book five years ago when my oldest child, my first son, was about to graduate from high school and his sister was entering her junior year. I was sure that I knew my subject. If only I’d finished the book then…But, no, I waited to test my theories on my next two kids—another boy and girl—who were right behind their older siblings. What a mistake! In the ensuing three or four years all sorts of new dangers were invented. Cyber-bullying, sexting, videochats, Ecstasy, raves and the Kardashians all shoved their way into my younger kids’ world. While in the process of writing my next book, I can’t resist taking a moment to respond to some interview questions from Modernmom.com about how we mothers should take care of ourselves.

What Pops Into Your Head When We Say "MOM"?

As the mom of four kids ages 16-22, my mind goes immediately to, “What do they need?” since I’m pretty sure they aren’t about to tell me how much they love me or to ask me about my day. A teen and young adult’s world is so preoccupied by their own needs and concerns, combined with their impetuousness and impatience, that I usually find that they’re calling to me to help them solve a problem before they move on to the next thing that attracts their attention. Not that I’d trade that privilege for anything! Some recent examples of my kids’ “Mom Calls” are: “Do I have proof of insurance in my car, ‘cuz I am being pulled over by the police?”; “Why don’t you ever surprise me by taking me out of school to go to lunch and shopping like Carrie’s mom does?”; or “If I still have checks in my checkbook, does that mean I still have money in my account?” “Mom” is different from “Mommy.” It suggests independence and a child who is growing up and growing away. Luckily for me, all four of my kids still remember to call me “Mommy” from time to time; when they have missed me or when they feel sick or when the boys realize I’m smaller and more fragile than they are. Then it’s like the sweetest endearment I can imagine.

Why is it Important for Moms to have "Me Time"?

We have all heard the analogy to the instructions given at the beginning of a flight; put your own oxygen mask on before putting one on your children. Our families have a physical and emotional reliance on us that is so natural that it can be taken for granted, but moms will keep giving and showing up even when they’re depleted. If we wait around for someone to finally pronounce, “Mom, you’ve worked so hard for us that it’s your turn! You should take a week or two off and just enjoy yourself while we take care of things here at home!” we’re delusional. It’s not just for our own health and well being that we have to invest time in ourselves, but as examples to our kids. If we don’t demonstrate to our children that it’s up to each of us to value ourselves and nurture our own happiness, they will learn to take their own health and fulfillment for granted or to expect someone to come rescue them when they fall.

What Can Moms Do to Feel Good about Themselves?

The best advice I can give a mom is to surrender her desire for perfection right here and right now! We women expect so much from ourselves: to be wise and generous parents, to be professionally competent, to contribute to our communities in time and treasure, to care for aging parents and in-laws, to recycle and live green AND to keep our marriages sexy and vital. What’s crazy is that we expect all that perfection without ever having seen a single living example of it. We are chasing a mythical creation that only exists in our imaginations and the artificial images of the media and society. The greatest gift we can give ourselves is acceptance and respect for our best efforts and our best intentions.

Other Suggestions?

Get 7-8 hours of sleep every night. Hey, Sophia Loren swears she gets 9 hours a night and she looks amazing in her seventies! Anything less makes us overeat, look haggard, get short-tempered and impairs our judgment and carpool skills. The next suggestion I have for moms to feel good about themselves is to make time every week for girlfriends. Invariably, a lunch or hike or coffee with a great girlfriend or two or three once a week restores our sense of humor and our belief in our own sanity. No one can make us feel better about ourselves than a candid and loving friend who doesn’t judge us and helps us see the humor in life. Beyond that, I just want to share that I am open to any safe and reasonable enhancement to my appearance that lifts my spirit and gives me extra zest. I get Botox Cosmetic injections to treat the “ugly 11” lines between my brows that make me look perpetually ticked off, I try to get my hair professionally colored, I get a bikini wax to stay current with social standards for grooming “down there,” and I love a pedicure now and then. It all makes me happy, and when Mom is happy, everybody is happy!

About the Author

Vicki Iovine is the happy and chronically overwhelmed mother of four children. (Five if you count her husband, and what wife doesn’t?) Along with being a mother, Iovine is the celebrated author of the highly successful Girlfriends’ Guide series that immediately found its niche with the hip and innovative GIRLFRIENDS’ GUIDE TO PREGNANCY, which has been reprinted 41 times and translated into twelve languages. It was followed by the equally beloved, GIRLFRIENDS’ GUIDE TO SURVIVING THE FIRST YEAR OF MOTHERHOOD, and, keeping up with Vicki’s own life experience, GIRLFRIENDS’S GUIDE TO TODDLERS was published just in the nick of time for those Girlfriend’s on Vicki’s reproductive timeline. While raising four kids is full-time work, Iovine has been a columnist for several magazines including a monthly column in CHILD a bi-monthly column for REDBOOK and a weekly column devoted to family life in the LOS ANGELES TIMES. She was also the parenting contributor for “Today,” a frequent guest host on “Later Today” and has appeared several times on “Oprah,” “Good Morning America” and “The View.”

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