One of the best things I’ve ever done for myself is go to Starbucks once a week.
I’m sitting in Starbucks as I write this, sipping a tall caramel macchiato, decaf thank-you-very-much because I’m still a nursing mommy, and I want my baby boy (as well as myself) to sleep well tonight. I have the pearl earrings, my hubby gave me for Christmas, in, I’m listening to Frank Sinatra croon away, and I chose a table facing the glass wall, and I am watching the snow pelt against the glass.
Every Thursday afternoon, hubby gets home from work,we chat for a minute or two, and then I grab my laptop and hop into the car to speed away to Starbucks for two hours to myself sans-baby.
When we made our New Year’s resolutions, we originally budgeted three days a week for me to get away, but I quickly found that I didn’t want to go sit in a cold Starbucks by myself that often. After some trial and error, I found that if I could get away for some me time once a week, that was all I needed to fill my cup, and return home refreshed, and ready for another day.
The funny thing is, despite how good it makes me feel, every week I almost talk myself out of going. Before I leave, there is always a voice inside of me that is bargaining to stay home. The truth is, I like being home and I love hanging out with my two favorite guys. But every week that I have skipped that date with myself, I have became a blubbering mess a few days later. I need time away from my baby, so that I can miss him, and come home once again. I need time to feel like myself for just a few hours.
Before I became a mom, I always found the term “self-care” pandering and overly indulgent. I breezily skipped over all the blog posts toting its manifold benefits. I didn’t understand the appeal of spending a day devoted entirely to pampering myself. But then I became a mom, and started spending every minute with the cutest baby I’ve ever seen (I know I am a little biased) and suddenly I was thirsty for the term that I had previously eschewed. I dreamed about time in a coffee shop by myself, or grocery shopping by myself or getting my hair done (even though I can count on one hand the times I’ve ever gone to a salon).
And I realized, what countless women have realized before me, that I needed (dare I say it?) me time. Time to put in my fancy earrings, skip out the door without a baby carrier, diaper bag, and twenty-pound baby boy and do something that felt a bit indulgent. I needed time to think thoughts other than calculating when Gideon last napped, and whether I payed that bill earlier or not. I needed time to sit in a coffee shop and just stare out the window if that tickled my fancy. I needed time to think without distraction, and simply be. When I get in those two hours a week I began to have breath in my lungs again, and if I don’t then I struggle to be the type of mom and wife I wanted to be.
Daddys take time for self-care, Mamas should too
I don’t know why, but men tend to be better at carving out time for self-care than women. When I was talking to Hubs about my feelings of burnout, he encouraged me to nap or relax when Gideon was napping throughout the day. But I have such a hard time doing that! Every minute Gideon is sleeping is so precious to me; I use that time to pay bills, do dishes, do laundry, work on my blog, do virtual assistant work, shower, or eat. I never seem to get caught up on everything, and I am always trying to rush to get as much done as I possibly can while he is napping.
Men, overall, tend to be good at taking that time for themselves. They don’t feel the guilt of all the tasks left undone. I know that the home really is my job (Saia helps a lot, too, but I am the stay-at-home parent), and I am constantly trying to figure out how to balance it all. I have a really hard time turning off the constant to-do list running in my brain.
I think all mamas need to encourage each other to pursue our passions, get out at least once a week, and spend time doing what we love. Whether that means staring out the window at a Starbucks across town, joining a book club or going for a walk.
Things I do to make this successful
- I always nurse Gideon just before I leave, so I know he won’t get hungry before I get back.
- I try not to spend half the time looking at pictures of Gideon (this is hard to do)
- I purposely choose the farthest coffee shop from our home. Since we live in a small town, the nearest one would be too full of people I know, and I need the time to get my blogging, and virtual assistant work done. So I try to go somewhere that I won’t see as many people.
- I let myself purchase a fancy coffee drink (I use my personal money that we both budget for every month), because I look forward to that silly cup of coffee all week long.
- We chose a day in the middle-ish of the week. Right now, hubby is helping the college wrestling team prepare for nationals, and needs to be in the wrestling room on Wednesdays, but once he’s done, my day will shift to Wednesdays, because its smack dab in the middle of the week, and it gives me a break when I need it most.
- I leave the house. I have tried staying home, and getting my work done while Saia watched Gideon but without fail something always happened to take away that time. Gideon cried for me, or I realized that supper needed to be made, or someone called and needed Saia to come help them with something. If I don’t physically leave the house, then I am setting myself up for failure.
- I make sure that supper is already made. Since I am usually gone from the mid-afternoon to the dinner hour, I always either make supper early in the day or throw something in the crock pot or instant pot so it is ready to eat. If I don’t do that, then it stresses me out while I am away thinking about what we will have for supper.
- Hubby sends me hourly snapchats/text messages of how Gideon is doing. I get so worried about my baby boy, and it greatly reassures me when hubby sends me periodic updates.
- I budget the last ten minutes just to stare out the window, and think or dream. I am amazed by all the great ideas I come up with in these ten minutes!
After two hours of working, writing, and thinking I am so ready to head home. I pack up my laptop, planner, earbuds, and phone, and drive the five minutes home. Then I open the door, walk up our flight of stairs, and see my baby boy get so excited to see me. His eyes get squinty, he waves his little arms, and he laughs. I look at my two boys, and my heart is filled with gratitude for them.
It’s amazing how much perspective I gain in two hours away.