Me Time

Reprinted from PN June 2012

Caregivers don't get enough respite and don't have enough time for themselves.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about “me time” lately, definitely wanting more of it and trying to figure out how to get it, without a whole lot of luck.

It finally dawned on me that at least one of the reasons I was having so much difficulty was because I really wasn’t clear in my own mind about what I really meant by “me time,” what specifically I wanted it to do for me, and how much of it I needed at any particular time.

"Me time" is how each person defines it.

I am certainly not alone in wanting more time for myself.  Every survey that asks family caregivers what they want or need shows it is high on their list. What we each do with time we designate for ourselves is likely to be as different as we all are as human beings, but that we need it is without question.

Positive & Fulfilling

Respite and “time for myself” are invariably linked in the survey data. We don’t get enough respite, and we don’t have enough time for ourselves.

If we had more time, we’d get more respite. But is it the same thing? Is “a usually short/temporary interval of rest or relief,” a common definition of respite, the same thing as time for myself? I don’t believe it is.

Look at these definitions of respite:

•         A reprieve or period of delay, as when there is a temporary suspension of punishment

•         Relief from something that is uncomfortable, painful or otherwise negative

These are pretty dark words, and they are about stopping or putting off something that is unpleasant or not wanted for a time. Me time isn’t about the absence of something difficult or unpleasant; it is about doing something we perceive as positive and fulfilling.

I don’t know how respite got to be the term adopted by advocates for family caregivers, but now that I know the negative connotations it can have, I for one am going to try not using it anymore. Me time for me isn’t about relief, but rather it is about relaxation, stress reduction, and, definitely, rejuvenation. 


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