By TMoM Team Member Anna Keller
I’ve never craved time alone as much as when I became a mother, and I savor those moments – both the more extended, planned out breaks I get and the minutes-long breathers here and there – like a piece of really good cake: I know the time will go by far too fast, but I want to taste every single bite in the process. (And I’m going to dream about that next slice of cake long before I’m able to enjoy it.)
My children are young – 4 and five months – and so I’m in the stage of parenting where the supervision is constant. When I’m with my kids, I’m WITH my kids – right there next to them. As a result, I often find myself sitting in silence when I’m alone in my car. No podcast on, no radio, just me and my thoughts. And it’s glorious.
Thankfully my husband, Kevin, works hard to make sure I have regular pockets of time to myself, and my in-laws also live in town, which helps a ton as well. Even still, much of the time I have to myself these days is used to take a Pure Barre class (which, believe me, I adore and so appreciate getting to do!) or go to an appointment of some sort. And though that time spent alone is great (as is, you know, showering or grocery shopping without kiddos), it doesn’t usually feel like “time for myself” in the way other activities can.
Here’s what I’ve learned about those: You have to schedule them. Often waaaaay in advance.
What I’m talking about when I say “time for myself” is time for the kinds of things that leave me feeling filled up, more like myself, energized, and seen on the other side of them. It might be a date night with just Kevin and me. It might be a FaceTime call with someone I haven’t caught up with in a while. It might be a Sunday afternoon spent enjoying a glass of wine and good conversation with three fellow mamas (sans kids).
None of those things just happen now that I’m a parent. All of them are planned for and have been on my calendar for a little while – even the FaceTime calls, most of the time! When I plan for those events, I can (almost always) count on them actually happening. Not only that, when they’ve been scheduled in advance I can also look forward to them, and that anticipation – the knowing that there’s a breath for me sometime in the future – can be immensely helpful during rough moments.
Kevin and I are big on the idea that life is at its best – and can be lived to its fullest – when there’s tons of intentionality behind it, and this is no different. Gone are the days (for now, at least) where I can spontaneously text a friend at 4:30 p.m. to see if she’s free for a glass of wine after work. Now, if I want to make that happy hour happen, it needs to have been planned so I can have a sitter lined up, or make sure Kevin’s done with his work day and can hang with the kids.
One big plus to needing to bring so much intentionality to those “time for myself” moments is that they seem to mean so much more as a result. I feel like my friends and I tend to go DEEP with our conversations, because we recognize our time together is limited. I leave those encounters feeling so fulfilled – so supported and heart and connected. We have to make the most of our precious time, and when we do it’s so, so meaningful.
Another plus? I come home from those events a better, more complete version of myself. I’m able to be a better mom and wife, and a happier version of myself because I’ve tapped into part of me that isn’t always at the forefront these days. They’re magical – so I make sure to keep scheduling them to keep that magic coming, no matter how infrequent.
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