Our family vacation in July was wonderful. Just the three of us venturing to the beach for a week-long getaway. But, I’m new enough in my job and lacking sufficient paid-time-off that I had to take part of the week unpaid. It was a bummer, but totally worth it. Our family needed to prioritize that time away.
What that meant, though, was that in August when the time came for us to go visit my in-laws in upstate New York, I didn’t have the time off of work I needed to make the trip worthwhile. Everyone in our family understood that I wouldn’t be able to join for the trip, but my husband really still wanted to venture out to see family and meet our five-month-old niece. I also knew that my in-laws were starting to twitch as they went through the withdraw of seeing our daughter. So I gave my blessing to my husband and daughter as they rolled out of the driveway at 4:30 a.m. on a Friday morning. I went back to sleep for a few hours before waking up to go to work. And it was then that the weekend of “me time” truly began.
I’m the type of person where if I’m given a free extra 60 minutes in a day, I try to think of the 78 things I can accomplish. Newsflash: I always set myself up for failure. I was (of course) going to miss my husband and daughter while they were away from home for the better part of four days. But, I was also so incredibly excited to have some “me time.” In the weeks leading up to their trip, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I was going to do with my alone time. And in typical Kristina fashion, I was thinking, “Ok I have about 40 hours of free time so here’s a list of 2,398 things I can do over the weekend!” I was already irritated with myself very early on in the planning of this extremely rare alone time because often finding “me” time can be difficult for all of us.
Prioritizing Me Time
Then a friend said to me, “Make sure whatever you decide to do with your time is actually rejuvenating for you. If it’s cleaning your house, then do it. If it’s reading a whole book, do it. If it’s taking naps all day every day, or binging on Netflix watching an entire season of something, do it.”
Then my thinking shifted. I was no longer thinking about all that I could accomplish with uninterrupted alone time. But I began thinking about what fills my cup, what fuels my soul, what brings me peace, relaxation and renewal? I remembered the importance of taking care of myself.
Here’s what my weekend looked like:
Friday: A slow cup of coffee before work with a healthy breakfast. A shorter day at work followed by a nice, long walk along the water. I then headed home for a bit to do some mindful meal planning before I went to see my therapist. Then, I went grocery shopping (ALONE). I meandered every aisle. I didn’t rush. I went home, drank delicious wine, made delicious pasta, watched a lot of “Queer Eye” on Netflix and went to bed at 9:30 p.m.
Saturday: Woke up around 6:40 a.m. to meet my village for a great HIIT workout. Headed home for another delicious and healthy meal and all the coffee. At 9:00 a.m., a close friend arrived with a car full of cleaning supplies in order to help me deep clean two levels of our home. We drank coffee, caught up on life, got sweaty together, organized many things that have been driving me crazy, and he left around 2:00 p.m. (It takes a lot for you to open up your dirty, grimy home to someone. But my friend expressed that this type of service is his love language. And Lord Have Mercy did he show me, my sanity, and our home so much love. Let people help you. You deserve it. And so do they.) I then spent some time relaxing at home, showered, went to pick up a close friend for a girls date night in which we went to a beautiful little restaurant, ate and drank to our heart’s content and talked until our voices were hoarse. I came home and was asleep by 11:00 p.m.
Sunday: Slept in (until 8:00 a.m. College me would be like “Slept in? LOL” but mom me woke up like “WHAT DAY IS IT??” Made myself drip coffee. Made myself a delicious tomato and gruyere tart. Ate it. Slowly. Quietly. Mindfully. Read my favorite magazine. Did some writing. (Never put a bra on). Wrapped up some of the organizing from yesterday. Chatted with my husband and daughter. Got a few groceries to host some friends. And then at 6:00 p.m. my patio was full of some of my favorite old and new girlfriends as we drank wine, ate charcuterie and caught up on life. And I was so ready for bed at 9:30 p.m.
Monday: Another slow morning. Morning reading time. Hot coffee. At work by 9:00 a.m. And then… that afternoon…. they were home.
And it could have absolutely felt like everything came crashing down and I was no longer slowly and peacefully walking through my day. I could have let the chaos of a toddler throw everything out the window. But I didn’t. Because I reminded myself that before being a wife, before being a mom, I was me. And I will be me when the kids move out. I have always been me. I still am, me. And I was able to finally, after a few long and tiring years, remember what it’s like to be me.
I love hot coffee. And I love fresh meals with wholesome ingredients. And I love good wine. And I love conversation. But I also love not seeing another human for hours on end. I love the serenity that comes with an organized and fresh-smelling living space. I LOVE SLEEP. I used my alone time to do all of the things that I love.
As I shared with a friend how much I had missed these parts of me (because of the demands that come with a tiny human) she said, “That’s so great! Now, how to keep up with all of those things when your family returns…”
So here are just a few things that I’ve been doing…
- No more Keurig coffee in the morning. I’m done with the K-Cup I found in the back of the junk drawer. My mornings are full of good, fresh coffee.
- No more waffles for breakfast which I smother in goop that doesn’t even actually have maple in it. Prep breakfast the night before, make a frittata days ahead of time so that I can enjoy a slow, healthy breakfast.
- No more late night Netflix binging. Stop being lazy and get up and go to bed at a decent time.
- No more sleeping through the alarm. You set it for a reason. If it’s to get up and run, go run. If it’s to get up and read, go read. If you listened to rule #3, you wouldn’t need to sleep through that alarm, anyway.
- No more high expectations. With alone time, you may have an hour to sit and read uninterrupted. But with family around it might only be ten minutes where you also had to wipe a toddler heiny and open some fruit snacks. But you read. Even for ten minutes. And that’s better than nothing.
I understand that I was so lucky to have a weekend of “me.” Maybe you’re even thinking that I’m selfish for leaving my baby with her dad for four days. Maybe you’ve got your judg-y pants on. But I know that I’ll be doing it again. Because when my family walked (slash tore) through the door, I didn’t greet them with exhausted sighs and tired eyes. I greeted them with a rested smile, excited laughs and a deeper connection to who I am. I know our daughter is only two. But one thing I’ve learned in parenting is that it is so dangerous to lose yourself. Once you have lost yourself, even in a busy and full home, you have lost everything. You family wants you to be whole, present, engaged, refreshed. A weekend, even a day away for you to recharge, for you to remember what makes you such an incredible human is an absolute blessing… and also a necessity.
So maybe you’re wanting to feel all these feelings and experiences I was able to feel this past weekend. Here’s my tip: hand your cell phone (cuz I know you’re reading this on your phone curled up on the couch) to your partner next to you. Have them read this article. Then start talking about. Tell them what you need. Ask for help. And allow it to happen. I guarantee if you begin the work of uncovering who you are again, your family will be better off. And as a mom, we always want what’s best for our families even if we are disguising it by doing what’s best for us. Because in the end, what’s best for us is what’s best for our families. So husbands, partners, help the mother of your children out. She deserves it. And I promise you’ll both thank me later.