Me Time Mothers



During the pandemic, people all over the world communicate through online forums. Recently, there was an interesting moment that became part of the discussion among Acehnese working mothers who are in and abroad. Through the WA group, the points highlighted are quite diverse, from the daily routines of women in Aceh to the context of career women in the modern world. The hottest point is about ” Me Time ” mothers.

Based on the definition in the Oxford dictionary, Me Time means time dedicated to oneself, not to others or family members, in order to reduce stress and increase energy. Before I convey this definition, almost all members in the WA group are familiar with the word me time, bearing their own respective definitions. There was no specific negative intersection until the discussion about the context of the psychology of mothers who wanted to enjoy separated moment, away from their children, husband and family as the result of being in the system of modern society.

Me time has been hotly discussed in women’s psychology since probably earlier than 2012. The notion generally understood in a positive meaning which is more and more loved by working women and housewives. Even so, me time has indeed rooted in a problematic foundation. It is one of the products of modern capitalism era. 

The era of modern capitalism in Europe began at the end of the 18th century. But in Southeast Asia, it has only been stronger since the mid-20th century. In the early decades of its rise, mankind was confronted with the fact that modernism has radically benefited mankind all over the world. Imagine, electrical inventions and technological sophistication has shortened enermous time of production, multiplied commodities for millions of times, generated enermous types of livelihoods, and enriched material and non-material knowledge. The way people live had been and still are changing. The way of looking at nature, humans and God has also been transformed.

Of Happiness

In Its haydays, modernism generally was idolized, except when it created demands solely for the sake of multiplying the profits of the wealthy groups bound in the network of nation-state governments and family inherited giant-companies. Such capitalization became global and normalized which gradually gave birth to standard rules, attitudes and new normal views that caused the division of the relationship between man and God. The natural fractures are the major reason for modern society’s thirst of happiness.

This modern normality includes a career mother’s view of the meaning of home, children and family. There are two sides of opinion expressed by working mothers about me time . The first is the one who interprets me time with happiness without having to leave home and family. For example, enjoying nature with a cup of coffee with the husband is me time for the wife, as admitted by one of the WA members. Or wives who have their own time browsing gadgets and watching favourite TV shows while relaxing at home when the kids are at school is categorized as one, or other hobbies that can be done without being distracted by other daily routine obligations. The working mothers who express this opinion are mothers who grown up and have families in Aceh, a province in Indonesia that has just seen the prospect of becoming a modern society. These working mothers considered ‘me time’ as fulfilling one of the basic needs of life. 


The second group is those who defined the meaning of me time exactly as stated in the Oxford dictionary above. Perhaps it should be added to the dictionary by including the word happy, for example happy times that can only be enjoyed when separated through space and time from home, children and family.

Hanging out with just friends or enjoying other fun jobs freely and individually are just a few examples.

This second group is working mothers in metropolitan cities abroad, in line with the common opinion of most career women in developed, capitalized, and cosmopolitan countries who put competent working women outside their homes as a way of life. Well, of course in some aspect, me time is indeed the solution for working mothers in modern society.

There have been attention given to study questioning and adressing the changing space of happiness of modern working mothers. Why increasing modern working mothers in Muslim countries, for instance, are no longer opted being happy within the space of a home and a family, despite professing the maturity of materialism?

Towards a Global Direction?

Without the intention of generalizing, there are also career women who work in big cities who are hungry for happiness to be at home with their children and family. What stands in their way of attaining that motherhood happiness is the system of modern society which emphasizes material success and the recognition of inheritance as the highest achievement in life. Especially when women are urged to prioritize first their work for the producen and consumers by chasing the standard of success and continous fat achievements that the role of the companies have replaced family as the core social value in modern world.

Responding to the negative side of modernism, more and more studies suggest that modern lifestyles needs to be replaced with simpler lifestyles, returning to the natural treasures and norms of human nature as suggested by Phelan (1992).

Including Muslim thinker such as Sheikh Hamza Yusuf (talk, 2017) and non-Muslim thinker such as Poduval (2009) in his piece entitled Working Mothers: How Much Working, How Much Mothers, And Where Is The Womanhood?, suggests the urgent establishment of policy that allow working mothers to function relevantly as core member of a family. In the context of career mothers, companies or workers’ bodies need to accommodate the needs of the mother in accordance with her roles and obligations. This means that mothers would be given the right to have adequate functions as mothers of children, especially when the children are young. 

This kind of function may be optimal after the formation of an environmental community that promotes the same values. In the end, although being a Muslim career mother is a much heavier responsibility, the important contribution of mothers to the ummah and communities is essential to the coming generations. 

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