I mentioned that I am trying really hard to make myself and my own happiness a priority as of late. To be honest, it is something you hear at every turn once you have a baby:
Make time for yourself! Nap when they nap! Carve out Me Time! Do things for yourself, too!
But too many of us do not heed this advice. Part of it is truly feeling like that just isn’t possible; Like there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to do so. Part of it is feeling selfish if you take away time that could be spent with your family or doing things for your family. And maybe part of it is just not understanding how to make those words become a reality. A therapist would probably say there are also undertones of not feeling we are worthy enough of focusing on our own needs.
I’m two deep in the baby making pool, with my eldest being a solid four and a half and I am just starting to understand how to make time for myself in a consistent way. I can’t deny it: I am much happier for it…which also makes me a better mom and wife.
Now let’s be honest, this doesn’t mean I have suddenly become a Lady Who Lunches. My days are still packed doing things for my family just like you, I’m sure.
Our whole family is usually up by 6 or 6:30 am. I make our bed, make the boys’ beds, make breakfast, clean up after breakfast, do the dishes, sweep the floors and get myself and the little ones clean and dressed every day by 8:30 am. This is pretty normal for a mom – working or stay at home – according to moms I know anyway.
Then, of course, there are classes for the boys (karate, art, music, soccer, track…), lunch, playground time, play dates, cleaning the bathroom, going to work, excursions, arts and crafts, making dinner, cleaning up after dinner. There is also that guy I made vows to. Like vows to love and cherish, but also to remember as my partner in joy and fun. So we try to talk, have a glass of wine, go on date night, watch Sons of Anarchy and Parenthood.
And as someone who has also been a working mom, I get how busy that is, too. You do as much as you can before leaving the house, work your butt off all day, and then often come home in time to prepare dinner and be a part of all the nighttime activities like baths, bedtime stories and dishes.
Life is exhausting. And I used to use all of those responsibilities (some fun, some not) as excuses for why I could obviously never get to the gym, put on make up, get a facial or read a book. But I have found that as I find creative ways to squeeze those things in for myself, accomplishing everything that needs to be done in a day is actually easier, not harder.
I found a gym (the YMCA) that is incredibly affordable, has tons of programs for the boys, plenty of classes for me, and FREE CHILD CARE (for 2 hours a day). This was probably the first step in altering my mindset, but it still took me four months of belonging to the gym before I really carved out Me Time with consistency. Some days both boys go to the child care playroom for an hour or two right before one of their classes. Or, I just drop off Xavi in the playroom while Carlitos has a class and use 45 minutes to jump on an elliptical. (This has also helped Xavi tremendously with separation anxiety!)
Once I figured out how to fit in gym time, I started asking the sitter who comes when I work two days a week to come an hour or two early sometimes so that I could do things like get a haircut, a massage, or even my first spray tan (!!) before or after work. But wait, how am I suddenly affording such extravagances?!?! Groupon. LivingSocial. LifeBooker. Am I worth an extra hour of a sitter and a $19 facial (that was originally $75) a couple times a month? Yes. Yes, I am.
I also bought several fun new colors of nail polish and have been painting my own nails at least once a week. I’m getting pretty good, if I do say so myself. I’m thinking pretty soon I can start charging other people…more money for $39 massages on LifeBooker!
And the reading? First and foremost, I fit it in on my subway rides into the city for work. It’s only made me miss my stop once. Okay, maybe twice. The other location you can always find me reading? The gym. If I’m not doing a spinning or kickboxing class, I do my own cardio on the elliptical, treadmill or stationary bike. I can only read while doing the bike, so clearly I have been doing nothing but the bike for the last two weeks while I finish the Hunger Games trilogy.
I can barely put it down. I’ve got one handed diaper changing and plate scrubbing down to a science at this point.
Since I wasn’t so great at carving out time to do little things for myself when I worked closer to full time, I would love to hear how any working moms make time for themselves. Gym before work? Highlights at lunch time? Books on the commuter train?
I am so glad I decided to act like I deserve to be taken care of as much as the rest of my family. I only wish I had started earlier. Like four years ago, maybe. But who knew all of those experienced women in my life were right with their age old adages?!?
Yeah, I’ll listen better next time. I hope you do, too.