This momming thing is hard. We pour our everything into being mothers, caretakers, chauffeurs, chefs, maids, nurses, teachers, decorators, peacemakers...all in one extremely stressed and sleep deprived body. How the F do we survive this? Well, I know what I need to feel sane and I am not one bit ashamed to share all of the ways I have learned to get selfish about "me time" and doing things for myself every once and awhile. Note: If you're one of those people who thinks that it's ok to completely let yourself and who you are at your core fall to the wayside so that you may martyr yourself as some super-human who doesn't need to do some maintenance and rejuvenating for yourself, you will not be interested in what I have to say. No judgment. I did that for a bit, and it was killing me. BUT, if you feel like you need to regain some sense of normalcy and get back to who you are (outside of being a parent) than keep reading, because you'll relate to a few things on this list and maybe be inspired to do a bit more for YOU!
1. I put my son in pre-school. OK, hear me out. This isn't for everyone but I had to do it. As a single parent I was drowning in an overwhelming sea of self neglect. When I put my son into preschool he was 18 months old and for two days a week for three whole hours at a time I could breathe! I knew that he was in great hands and he was learning to be with other people and play with other children. Before, he was with me so much I almost felt like I was doing him a disservice. I could only do so much and I know I wanted him to experience more than what I was giving him at home in the midst of cleaning, laundry and errands. I could only play or snuggle or engage with him for so long until the next thing needed to be done and he had to wait. The house had to be clean, the laundry had to get done, the shopping had to happen...and to do that he couldn't be my central focus. I felt like as asshole every time I had to stop being 100 percent involved in coloring or building blocks. It is two years later and I feel so proud of him as we have transitioned to a different school, with longer days and more challenges and he has handled it like pro! He is social, outgoing, inquisitive and loves school and I feel better leaving him to learn from teachers during the day so that I can have the time to handle all of life's menotomy. We both get time for ourselves. I do all of the chores (and some not-so-chores) while he's in school so that after-school time we can really spend quality time together. That's what's important.
2. I make time for maintenance. Not household maintenance or automobile maintenance, but ME maintenance. I get a facial once a month. Religiously. It invigorates me and makes me feel like I am taking time to treat myself. I don't want to sound vain, but I want to look good. My Mom introduced me to getting facials when I was a preteen and I have always loved them, but I must admit that there was some time in my life when I fist had B that I didn't get my monthly facials and I regret that I didn't. Not because my skin looked bad or anything, but because it is something I truly LOVE that I gave up because I thought I had to. I didn't. In fact, once I started getting my facials again I started also going for regular pedicures and manicures. I am the first to raise my hand and admit I get Botox. There's no shame in my beauty game. I have started going to the gym to exercise (gasp!) and liking it!! Crazy, I know, but all of these things help me be a better Mom. I feel better when I look better. That's just how I am. I know this isn't what fuels everyone fire but what we need to understand is that doing things to nurture ourselves, however you choose to do it, allows us to feel whole and is an example to our children to take time to place value on themselves, too.
3. I pay for help. Yup, that's right. Listen to me Moms, occasionally someone else should scrub, mop, de-funk and squeegee the hell out of your house while you go out for coffee. I find this frees up a lot of time and helps my general OCD-driven stress level. Allowing yourself to have some assistance around the house that actually cleans and doesn't just move mess from one place to another is well deserved, so go for it! Wether it is once a week or once a year...treat yourself to a break from the bleaching. While you're at it, find a great babysitter that you can pay to come regularly. Someone you can trust to take the kids to the park while you're at home taking a bath or watch the kids while you go on a date. Totally worth it and well deserved.
4. I go out. And I enjoy myself. It's not a foreign concept. Before you had children you went out. You did stuff, saw stuff, danced to stuff, bought stuff and ate places where they served wine and stuff...whose to say you can't do that now? Why do we think that as parents we have stop being social with our peers? I try to go out as often as I can plan to do so. Not every night, but at least once a week. Dinner with girl-friends, art shows, movies, concerts, fundraisers, or just grabbing a beer at the local and catching up with pals...I need that time to connect with the world. I don't remember anywhere in the baby books where it said "stop being you when the baby comes out of your vagina." We are social people with a lot of interests and passions. I want my son to be a well-rounded and gregarious person too, so I lead by example. It's not selfish...its living your life. Being a Mom doesn't mean lock yourself indoors and never leave your child's side. It means having a child is part of a life that is ever-growing and evolving and now includes loving a tiny human. SO get out of the house. Do you and enjoy it!
5. I have spiritual time everyday. I started doing this when we started looking for a church to take our son. I realized I wasn't taking the time to connect with my own belief system, so how could I ask my son to do the same? Everyday I try to meditate or sit in prayer for not only myself and my son but for whatever is really weighing on my heart at the time. In recent months it has really pulled me out of feeling overwhelmed by all of the negativity on the news and social media. Having the time to spiritually connect is what balances me. I'm more patient, more relaxed, less stressed and feel like my emotions are easier to handle, and that is making me a better mother. I'm connecting to my son and the other people in my life more than I have in the past. To me, that's a great reward.
I know we all want to be super-parents. I know what it feels like to say that all other things come before myself ,and I know it feels like to get lost and feel alone in those moments. I don't want to be that person anymore. Now that I am taking time to be better to myself I really notice how much more I am enjoying this life. I am not ashamed to say I do things for myself, and you shouldn't either.