Time out for mom
Is finding a full, uninterrupted hour’s escape from your mom-duties a trick worthy of Houdini? If the task of taking a bath all by your lonesome is unfathomable, it may be time to plan a short getaway. Here are a handful of ideas of ways to make and spend time alone.
Head to the gym, a park with safe walking trails or take a run. Even low-impact strolls through a fresh market, a shopping center or a museum will do your body and mind a lot of good. Don’t forget community centers like the YMCA, which offer childcare at super-low prices for short periods of time. And it’s never too early to start Christmas shopping!
Reconnect with yourself by heading off to a calming or inspiring place like a café (or even your own bedroom) and journal, listen to music or flip through favorite magazines—anything that will refill your creative well. Renew old associations by jotting a note to a friend or family member …using real pen and paper!
Top tips for securing time to yourself
It’s your home, too, and it’s okay to make a space for yourself.
Differentiate between “Family Time,” “Mommy and Daddy Time,” and “Mom Time.” Each one is distinct and important.
Clean up before your personal time. Don’t spend your precious few hours of peace and quiet doing laundry, dishes or carpets.
Hit the Stacks.
If you can’t remember the last time you read anything with more character development than Go, Dog, Go!, then a trip to your local library is in order, and best of all it’s free! If you like the idea of reading but never really gotten into it, take comfort in the fact that, like everything else, the more you do it the easier it gets! Most libraries branches offer special programs and cheap classes, too.
Craft Stores. Are you good with your hands? Craft and hobby stores offer technique classes and workshops on scrapbooking, cake decorating, watercolor and more, usually charging just for supplies.
The Internet is a tool many moms have at hand, so why not use it? We’ve come a long way since the days of distance learning and choppy Web video—if you’ve got the right cell phone you can stream the latest episode of America’s Next Top Model while your daughter is at ballet. Also, try to participate in book clubs on Barnes and Noble (www.bn.com) or check out the OpenCourseWare Consortium (www.ocwconsortium.org), which offers completely free courses from established universities like Tufts, Johns Hopkins and Notre Dame.
Single & practically single parenting
It’s rare for someone to relieve a mom of her duties. The question is, how does a single mom, or one whose partner works long hours, find time for herself? The answer: she doesn’t. The time will never come on its own, so be proactive. Ask family or friends for a few hours’ of quietude, or set up a free-sitting co-op with another mom.
Dress up, get pretty. Even moms who work outside of the house tend to forget this easy step, and stay-at-home moms are the predominant offenders. Take the few extra minutes before bed to put out clothes you love, take the few extra minutes in the morning to go a little glam. This is especially important when you’re feeling bloated, stressed or uninspired!
Dump the disorder. Got loads of clothes you don’t touch, much less wear? Toss ‘em! Eye makeup so old you’re sure nasty bacteria’s growing in it? Trash it! Purge personal stuff that doesn’t work for you. Don’t let chaos hide those things you really enjoy. What’s the point in having good stuff if you don’t use it?
Limit your splurges. When you purge junk, don’t replace it with new junk. Plan your next buy before you hit the stores. This is easier for moms on solid budgets, so moms whose tendencies lean toward spendthrift, know that the more you accumulate, the less you’ll be able to enjoy.
Don’t feel guilty for taking your retreat! Your child’s I.Q. isn’t going to drop if, one night a week, his bedtime is an hour earlier than usual, or you hole up in the corner of the living room with a good book. For many moms it’s as essential to identify ourselves without our children as with them. When you’re relaxed, you’ll be able to enjoy your kids so much more—and they’ll enjoy you more, too!
Elizabeth Osborn is a freelance writer, novelist and mom from Youngstown, OH.