You Can’t Pour From An Empty Cup: I’ve Been “Me-timing” All Wrong


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“You can’t pour from an empty cup.” 

Have you heard that saying? Essentially it’s a good reminder that we can not pour out what we don’t have. We can’t serve others or be productive or useful at all unless we are taking space to care for our minds, bodies, and souls. As moms, we can struggle with this. We get so little time to ourselves, and when we finally do get it, it’s not enough. The refreshment is so temporary, it can be discouraging.

Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever taken that time for yourself and enjoyed it and thought you filled that empty cup, but come back to your life exactly the way you left? 

What happened? You took the time, you got to sleep, you got your break. But that breath of fresh air didn’t last as long as you thought it would. You still had an empty cup.

This happened to me.

Towards the end of last summer, I started feeling the weight of not giving myself breathing room. I am a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom of four kiddos. We are together all the time. While I do love it, it can get all-consuming and exhausting.

My husband saw me starting to crack (alright, maybe he came home to see me completely broken) and took action. He got me a Groupon and next thing I knew, I was on my way up to a cozy bed & breakfast in Vermont. 

I spent two nights sleeping, shopping and watching TV. It was wonderful and restful.

But it was not refreshing.

A couple of weeks later, by the grace of God, I was able to spontaneously get away with a few friends for a weekend on the Cape. We walked, talked, shopped, and talked some more. Even though I am an introvert, I returned home from this trip rested AND refreshed. What was the difference? 

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The difference was this: I was filling up the wrong cups. The parts of me that needed the most attention, the parts that were running on empty could not be filled with just sleep or time away. It helped, but I had so many other needs that I still didn’t take time to address. The second trip filled up more parts of my whole self than the first.  My whole self is a reader, writer, singer, somewhat of a nature lover, and someone who desires to connect deeply with others through faith and meaningful conversation. 

What about you? It’s time to sit down and figure out what it is that makes up you. Which little cups are you refilling regularly and which ones have you been neglecting for far too long? Sleep deprivation rears its ugly head and tells us that all we need to do is catch up. But imagine for a second, that you are well rested and have two days to spend however you’d like. What would you do? What is it that puts life in your veins?

Take inventory. After you figure out the different parts that make you whole, it’s important to prioritize these things while also being realistic with expectations. How many nights a week do you think you should read, write, run, or create? 

Pouring back into those parts of you is so much more refreshing and a better use of time than binge-watching or binge-eating or even sleeping for 12 hours straight.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good Netflix marathon but again, we are thinking a bit deeper here. We are thinking about times where you need more than a little escape here and there.

Lastly, be proactive. Try your best not to wait until you are a puddle of tears on the bathroom floor like I was. Check-in with yourself regularly so you can be pouring out of a filled cup.





  1. Thanks, Jess! This is really helpful to think about. I’ve been feeling like I’m cracking lately and when I get a moment to myself, I end up just as frustrated and unmotivated as before. I’ll definitely be thinking about this!

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