Sometimes I feel I squeeze my entire adult life into the hours between the time my kids fall asleep and when I myself pass out from sheer exhaustion.
I tiptoe out of their bedroom, sneak down the stairs, and breathe in that moment I have been waiting for the whole day.
The house is quiet. No one is calling my name. No one is grabbing my hand. Even my hyper-Mom instinct that immediately coils me into action whenever I hear a bump or a muffled cry has turned off. For a very short time today, I am not taking care of somebody else. My life is once again mine.
Only moms will know how rare and how important this time is. From the day we saw the first two lines on that first pregnancy test our bodies, minds and hearts have belonged to somebody else. We eat for the baby. We work for the family. All our choices now include the little human who calls us Mom.
But for a few short hours each day, we can choose for ourselves. What can we do to make that choice feed our souls and our exhausted bodies? What can we do with our Me Time? Other moms share their simple, self-renewal rituals.
My bathroom is my sanctuary
Bath gels. Body scrubs. Scented lotions. Thank you God for affordable beauty products, because for a little cash and even just a 20 minute warm shower we can remember we aren’t just a mom, but a girl. YES, a girl. Remember how excited we were when our Mom let us use her perfume? Or when we bought our first lipstick, or our first “grown up” underwear?
We felt so feminine. So grown up. So beautiful.
“I used to hurry through my skincare routine because it was a chore – something I had to do to fight wrinkles. Now I take my time. I like letting the products sink in while I listen to music, pick a perfume (by all means wear your best perfume even if you’re only going to sleep!), fuss over my hair. I turn my evening bath into my mini-spa routine,” says Lara G.
I take myself on a wine and cheese date
Betsy L. says she used to prepare elaborate wine, cheese and chocolate platters for a stay-at-home Friday date with hubby. They still do it – but now, she doesn’t postpone that treat to a night when he’s free. “I realized that I need to take myself on a date, too! I pour a glass, take out crackers and spread, help myself to some deli ham, cheese or dark chocolate. Then I catch up on my Netflix – I even watch the chick flicks that I know he hates, hahahaha!”
She adds that she gets her deli meats during her weekly grocery runs. Her supermarket has a deli section, and she’ll get a 100 grams of each and stock in her ref. She always has wine in the house, but lately she’s been googling how to make margaritas, Long island ice teas, and more. “Sometimes I invite my best friends over and we drink at home instead of going out. It’s a cheaper and quieter version of our Friday night bonding sessions when we were single!”
My iPad is full of cheesy romance novels
Confession: smart girls read trashy books, and there’s no shame or blame in that. “Every day I go through Powerpoints and emails. My secret pleasure is stupid romance books with improbable plots, and bad but steamy writing,” says Carmela E. She says it all started with 50 Shades of Grey, but now she’s discovering there’s a huge genre that includes both downloadable books and free fan fiction. “The best part of reading e-books is nobody will ever, ever know. It’s also cheaper. And I can read it at night, or while having lunch, or waiting in the bank.”
I sneak off to a “meeting”
Det P. is a work-at-home mom, which sounds ideal but really means she has 10 open tabs on her computer while she simultaneously tutors her kids and gets dinner ready. “I think people assume my job is easier because I do it at home, but that’s not true. I miss the days when I could compartmentalize work, family and my personal life.”
To compensate, she will sometimes declare that she’s on a group chat with a client, hole up in her room, lock the door, and then watch Youtube. “I use my client as my excuse to escape,” she admits. Sometimes she’ll go to Starbucks for a “meeting” but pack her art materials and coloring books for three hours of shameless fun. “Then I go home after dinner, say I’m exhausted from the traffic, but actually I was 20 minutes away the whole time.”
I send my kids to my parents
Grandparents are Disneyland. Karen J. drops off her kids at her in-laws’ house every weekend a month and then spends one whole day catching up on her personal errands. “That’s when I have my manicure and pedicure, get my eyebrows groomed, and meet up with a friend.” Sometimes she’ll go to a coffee shop and just read magazines or watch Youtube using their free wifi. “I used to worry that my parents would spoil the kids but I realize that even if they did, this is my chance to spoil myself! After all 99% of the time I am a responsible mom and they are responsible kids… what’s wrong with one day of indulging, for all of us?”