There was a time, back when I worked in an office, when I made a point every week of taking one hour to myself. Friday afternoons I got out of work an hour early, and, instead of rushing to daycare to collect my babies, I would stop off at Starbucks, buy myself a latte and some chocolate covered graham crackers, and find a cozy spot to sit and read for an hour.
An hour out of a week doesn’t seem like much in the grand scheme of things, but I loved that hour. The rest of the week I changed diapers, fed bottles, made dinners, answered to supervisors and a million other people. But that one hour was mine, all mine, and for 60 glorious minutes I didn’t need to tend to anyone other than to me.
Then I quit my job and started working for myself and every stolen hour felt like just that, stolen. Instead of relishing the quiet, I worried that I should be doing something productive or taking care of someone. So I stopped taking that time for myself.
It took me years to realize that I really needed that me time. That it wasn’t stealing since it was critical to my well-being. To be productive and effective as a mother and a freelancer I need to take care of me. Simple, right? And yet such a hard lesson to learn.
This past year I’ve gotten better about making sure I take time to exercise, take time to have lunch with a friend, even take time to just take a morning off to read a book or knit in front of the TV. I’ve found that I’m more productive the rest of the time because I’m trying to finish things up so I can enjoy my time “off.” I’ve found that I’m much happier when I take care of me.
And then there came summer.
Now, let’s be clear, I have chosen to have my kids home with me all summer. I want them here. I want to hear them play while I write. I want them to have a summer with no schedule so they can just relax and be. And I’m enjoying having them here.
But the unexpected downside is that I’m never alone any more. And I won’t be alone again until they go back to school in August.
So, what’s a mom to do to get some much needed “me” time?
Well, I’ve gotten creative.
I’ve made it clear to the kids that they need to let me drink my morning tea in peace.
I’ve negotiated the right to go to the YMCA three times a week to work out while they hang out in the childcare room.
I’m very mindful of my evening down-time and try hard not to work after they go to bed.
It’s not much and it’s definitely not what I’m accustomed to, but it’ll do. And come August I know the house will be too quiet and the alone a bit too intense. So I’ll try to keep in mind, when the playful noises turn to whines and the happy sounds turn sad and I’m craving a bit of solitude, that summer only lasts 9 short weeks and that sooner rather than later it’s kid time I’ll be craving rather than me time.
Quaker® Chocolate Chip Cookies aren’t just for the kids! They may not be a latte and chocolate covered graham crackers, but they’re better! They allow me to be indulgent while still providing the power of Quaker® oats to fuel me for whatever the rest of the day might hold.