As a woman, a mama, a wife, and a business owner, I can tell you from first hand experience that I’m pretty guilty of making sure everyone else’s needs go before my own. When I was single, you know, back when the only person on the planet who mattered was me (ok, and my sweet chihuahua fur baby) I didn’t have to think twice about scheduling time to pamper myself or taking a class at the gym. There was no guilt in happy hours, monthly facials, dancing until closing time, or having popcorn and beer for dinner.
Looking back, when you’re single and without children, everything you do is “Me Time.” From deciding what time to wake up and setting an alarm (remember when your 3 year old at 5:30am wasn’t your alarm clock? Yah me neither), choosing to abide by it’s toll or ignoring it for 15 more mins, taking a shower (daily!), working overtime hours for some big fancy corp, and then deciding whether you should have Thai take out for dinner or Tapas with the girls, it was all “Me Time”.
Long sigh….what happened to all that precious”Me Time”? Why does balancing motherhood and home economics as a working professional have to be so sacrificing? What happened to the luxury of choosing what’s best for ME, and putting ME first?
I thought about this a lot once I sold my first business and had more free time on my hands. Let me tell you, freeing up your time is just as guilt ridden as being a working mommy by the way, but the only difference was, for the first time in years, I had a few extra hours a week to decide, “Hmmmmm, what do I need to do today? Actually, what do I want to do today? What is best for me and my health today?” Yes I am fortunate to have found this time without being a retired old bitty, but I had no choice.
See, I was overworked, lost in post partum depression, serving a staff of 20+ employees and fifteen different casino executives. Something had to give. I wandered from hour to hour wondering if I would ever feel pretty again. Would I feel happy, joyful to be a mother, the wife my husband had married? I wanted to feel rested, less depressed, and no longer fueled by anxiety. A longing for my old life and all the spa days filled me. I missed going dancing at my favorite honky tonk and feeling free and alive out on the dance floor. Gone were the cold beers over bon fires with my girlfriends and hot coffee with a good book every morning. Coffee that didn’t have to be reheated five times thanks to fussy morning toddler tantrums and a million things we have to do before 8am as parents.
I missed good ol’ fashioned “Me Time.”
So here is my advice for anyone in the trenches of being a mommy warrior bada$$ while balancing spreadsheets, gymnastics practice, a Whole30 compliant meal now and then, and the endless bills. Stop and think about the advice you would give another tattered, worm out mommy. It’s easy to give, yet hard to take, right? If another mommy called you and unloaded to you that she was overworked, under appreciated, tired as heck, and beaten with the ugly stick, what would you tell her? Welp, the truth is, what you would say to her, is probably the advice you also need to heed, sister. You would probably tell her she needs more”Me Time” and here are my simple ideas to fit that in to the chaos we all seem endlessly bound to as working mamas:
BOOK A MASSAGE
Because if you’re hurt, injured, sore, weak, or deprived, how can you really help anyone else, successfully? Massage, in my professional LMT opinion isn’t a fluff and buff way to spend your time anymore. It’s medically necessary to unwind all that braided stress forming boulders in those shoulders. Stress + pain= disease.
TAKE A CLASS
Challenge your mind. Maybe something you have always wanted to learn so you feel accomplished and your self esteem gets a boost. Maybe a dance class where you can bring some sexy back, or a paint class to soothe your anxious thoughts and feel creative.
PLAN A WINE NIGHT
A girl has to have friends, and if you don’t have friends as an outlet, THEN GO GET SOME (like join an on-line FB group or a Meetup group)… because friends contribute to our growth, and ya’ll just drink some wine with them. Libations in moderation are a useful tool to unwind, open up, laugh, and feel less threatened by the stressors of the day. *Please, drink responsibly, Mama!
EVERYONE HAS A JOB TO DO AT HOME — KIDS INCLUDED
Schedule chores so everyone, every day, has a job to do before bedtime. My 3 year old has a chores chart and the best part is she doesn’t even ask me for money to do them…she asks for stickers! Praise the Lord! My husband is responsible for dinner every Thursday while we are at gymnastics and it doesn’t even bother me that the only thing he can make is grilled chicken on the George Forman grill. At least its healthy and I didn’t have to worry about it. Help at home = more downtime for you at home.
PREPLAN A SICK DAY (AND MAKE SURE TO DVR YOUR FAVORITE SHOWS IN PREPARATION FOR IT!)
My Mom, God bless her, would pull us out of school now and then when we were kids for what she called a “Mental Health Day”, and it was always something we really needed and always appreciated. We could either veg out all day on the couch with the TV on and all our favorite day time talk shows, or we could go to the beach and play in the sun and sand all day. We were super busy kids and didn’t have a lot of breaks, so she knew if she didn’t bend on the rules, we would eventually crack. Sound familiar?
ACTUALLY TAKE A LUNCH BREAK
Gasp! WHAT? You can actually leave the office and NOT eat at your desk? Yes, and legally, no one can tell you differently. So what do you want to do with a whole 45 mins – 1 hour to yourself today? Eat outside and soak up some Vitamin D? Maybe throw on some running shoes and take a walk at the park? Meet up with your hunny for a little day date at Panera Bread? Maybe get your nails done while you enjoy a veggie wrap and a strawberry banana smoothie? Make your hour of power all about what you need to do to get through the rest of the day.
JOIN A GYM THAT HAS CHILDCARE
Not only is this reinforcing good habits for your kids, but it gives you time to work out those sore stiff muscles and bones that have tricked us into thinking we have early stages of arthritis. Lack of proper and trustworthy childcare will be the reason why you don’t get to do anything outside of the house besides get the mail, so find a gym that will watch your kids for free and get your body moving and sweating!
MEAL PREP AND SAVE YOURSELF FIVE HOURS A WEEK
It’s A LOT of work to make dinner every night. Even simple dinners. So do what I do — get all the groceries ordered on-line for curbside pick up, and do all the cooking and prepping done on a weekend day to save yourself from having to prepare one more deadline at the end of every work day. It pays off. Trust me! And makes it easier to satisfy picky eaters when everything’s all cooked and readily available for snacking any ol’ time. Plus? Ordering groceries on-line can shave off 1-3 hours a week you spend shopping in person!
It’s not hard to do, but the hardest to do all at the same time. For my non-believers, then meditate (because lets be honest, it’s all the same thing anyway). You need to speak your truths, needs, and gratitude to the universe because the universe is what provides. “Ask and you shall receive” and believe YOU ME it works. Be selfish and pray today. Start off by just saying a few simple words like “Thank you”. “I’m grateful.” “I need help.” “I’m here”. “I’m enough.” See how this inner monolog eventually transcends into a heartfelt dialog.
PUT. THE. PHONE. DOWN!
Can you sacrifice “The Precious” a.k.a. your cell phone? Try keeping it docked and out of sight for a tech free night. We have tech free Sundays in our house. We fill our time with church, meal prepping, watching a movie as a family, playing outside, visiting neighbors, going for a walk, or reading. Sounds super “Little House on the Prairie,” I know. But trust me. It’s what my brain and my fingers need.
A technology break has me focused on my family, what needs to be done around the house instead of vegging out on Facebook or Snapchat, and I don’t waste a ton of time fighting with people in silly social media threads that get me all worked up and upset. As a type A personality, the best”Me Time” I can give me besides a massage, is time organizing and time to catch up on projects. That’s exactly what a tech free day does for me, and on Sunday’s when the world moves a little slower, I feel less guilty for being away from my phone.
“Me Time” is essential. Without it, I resent the old me who chose to move on from being a little selfish single socialite to a family-fied MOMtreprenuer. I get lost in the old days and forget to appreciate all I have now and what I’ve worked so hard to earn. A good husband, a silly mini me who loves to watch Disney movies and read (just like me!) and finally a job I don’t hate showing up to.
“Me Time” means I’m ALSO taking care of another important person in my life.
That person runs our world and can’t be bogged down with stress and sickness. She’s someone who darn well deserves to give time to herself. I know you do too, girlfriends. My challenge for you is to try some of these ideas. And do it guilt-free. If you don’t give it to yourself, no one else will. The old you knew a thing or two about what was best for you after all!