“Okay, I really want to take some time for me. Is that wrong? Why do I always feel guilty for going to my monthly women’s dinner? Maybe I should just cancel since my kids really want me stay at home?” Does this sound like anyone you know? Or you?

I really hesitated at first regarding this particular blog. I mean, I’m not delving into world hunger, or the fresh move of the Holy Spirit here (maybe next week). This is so practical, yet, needed. How many of you reading this would say that you have a hobby of some sort? What about time to yourself every now and then? How many would say that you feel guilty when you leave your children, so you just try not to?

We all know that being a mom is a full time job. Unless we make an effort, we probably won’t get many breaks in between laundry, grocery stores, cooking, cleaning, car pool, sleepovers, homework, diapers, peanut butter and jelly (or almond butter for my health conscious friends!), and the list goes on.

For this topic, I was honored to interview someone who I admire greatly. I have watched her over the past twelve years not just talk the talk- but walk the walk. She is deeply in love with Jesus and quite the prayer warrior. She has successfully raised five amazing children, and just last year sent her fifth child off to college. She is my Mother-in-Law, Kay Barnard.  Here is her advice to either those going to be moms or already moms:

Celeste: Kay, what would you say to a mom who says she just doesn’t have the time to invest much in friendships or doing something she enjoys?

Kay: She has to. She has to set time for those kinds of things. It’s not healthy if she doesn’t. It’s important to have our priorities in order. Time with the Lord, time with our husband, time with our kids, time for ministry, and time for friendships.

Celeste: As a mom who just sent her 5th child to college, what was that like for you?

Kay: It was a very interesting life changing experience. To realize that after 33 years of being ‘mom’, that aspect of it was actually over. I had to process that.  Of course there were some emotional times that I went through.  There are seasons of life and I spent much time preparing for this season. You gradually let them go, preparing each time.

Celeste: Do you feel like you had invested time in yourself and in friendships, your marriage, and your walk with God- that you’ve been able to just continue doing the things you enjoy and have a passion for?  And wouldn’t you agree, that there are many aspects of ‘me’ time: My time with the Lord, my time with my husband, and my time with me?

Kay: The number one thing that got me through parenting and raising five kids was my quiet time with the Lord. My time with the Lord was number one. And I would also like to address your marriage. We always made it a priority to get away together one or two times a year by ourselves. I know first hand that there is a lot of preparation involved.  We had to get a reliable babysitter, get the kids packed, pack our own items, make arrangements for activities, etc.  And I remember thinking “Will this be worth it?” But every time we came back, we always agreed it was so worth it! It kept our relationship vibrant and growing. We invested in our marriage first, and then the kids. As far as having time with other women, I loved to pour myself into the church, and people, and continue to do so today. Of course, I have even more time now. But it wasn’t like my life drastically changed when they all went off to college. I am still involved in my loves, Bible study and fellowship. It was never like “oh my goodness, how do I fill my time?” And now there’s just more time to do things I enjoy like learning new things. My husband and I are even taking a course on investing in stocks! It’s so important to do things like learning something new; keeping up interests- something that gets you excited. I have never felt like I’ve neglected my kids, never. I was actually a better mom because I took time off to do some things I enjoyed.  I would come back with more joy; excited to be home with my family; refilled.

Now it is a balancing act. There were so many things that I was asked to do at the church as an elder’s wife. I definitely had to say no to some things. Actually, a lot of things! I had to pick and choose. I would say yes to the things I knew I was called to do and that nurtured me like prayer and Bible study and pouring myself into others. Unfortunately, I always felt so guilty for saying no. If I could go back I would not allow myself to feel guilty when I had to say no. Do not feel guilty! Guilt weighs you down. Do not allow others (or even yourself) to put guilt on you. Know your priorities!

Celeste: What advice would you give to moms on this topic of making time for themselves? Please add anything else you feel would encourage us moms or moms to be on the topic of finding some ‘me’ time- and how that would actually enhance our lives and motherhood.

Kay: Enjoy the journey (love this), don’t let others manipulate you and put guilt on you for your decisions. Set your priorities and stick to them. If you have a plan, stick to it and don’t live in guilt. Please spend some time with your husband away from kids. It’s so important for the kids to see healthy parents being modeled. And finally, make time for vital friendships.

I hope you’ve been encouraged by our interview, I know I have. I hope this week you can sit down with your calendar and schedule in some ‘me’ time.  Whatever nurtures and energizes you, think about it. For me, it’s scrap booking, reading and writing, and cycling. And I have to put it on the calendar and see to it just like I would any other appointment. If you work full time, I know this will be a challenge, but it’s so worth it. You might need to schedule every other Saturday morning for something you enjoy. You will probably need to enlist either a babysitter or your husband. It’s important for women, especially mothers, to take regular time to do things that nurture our souls and keep us feeling alive; if we don’t, we could face burnout, and we won’t be very helpful to anyone! Be encouraged, and enjoy the journey!

Psalm 37:3-4 Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.