Before K was born, I needed healthy doses of time alone. My anxiety disorder meant that being around people completely overwhelmed me, and working in a busy clinic left me worn out by the end of the day. Every night after dinner, I would crash on the couch and just get lost in a book, some blogs, or a bunch of TV shows. Cleaning got done on the weekends (after I slept in and lounged around for several hours), and the grocery shopping typically happened on J’s day off. I needed time and space to regroup, and I liked the chunks of ‘me time’ that were so often available.
Now that I have a 15 month old running around, the idea of ‘me time’ has changed a great deal. I don’t mean in the cliche ‘running to Target alone is a vacation’ sort of way; I mean it honestly. I mourned the loss of my nights laying on the couch, leaving dishes to pile up until the next morning. I didn’t manage to get through an entire book until K was at least 8 months old, something I couldn’t imagine pre-baby. Free time seems like such a silly thing to mourn, but it was an actual process for me.
I got really depressed when I thought about how long it would be until I could take an entire Saturday morning to sit in a cafe and write. I was completely overwhelmed thinking about the fact that I had to come home from a busy day of work, and KEEP GOING. Dishes, laundry, cleaning – these were no longer Saturday chores, because Saturdays were as busy (or busier) than any other day of the week. I truly struggled with a sense of entitlement; didn’t I DESERVE to sleep in until 10 if I wanted to? I fought these feelings for several months. I grew resentful of my situation (not of my baby), and longed for a vacation from my life.
And one day, after a long discussion with J, I realized something. I still had free time; it just looked different than it did before. Everything else post-baby was different, why would this be an exception? I realized that pre-K, I was lazy, and my tendency post-baby was to be lazy as well. But that just doesn’t work when you’ve got a little person relying on you to do things. There was now more to do in less time – I had to get more efficient if I expected to have any ‘me time’ left over.
So, how have I managed to eke out some ‘me time’ in the midst of a busy life? Here’s a little glimpse:
– The 7:00 Dash: As soon as K goes to bed at 7:00, J and I clean up the kitchen and the living room. With those two things out of the way, we feel accomplished, and it’s less of a chore on the weekends. Then we’ve got the rest of the night to do as we please.
– Saturday showers: Though I can’t sleep in on Saturday mornings (I’ve lost the sleeping-in ability entirely), I can take an extra-long shower. J and I trade off, and allow the other as long as they want to lounge in the hot water.
– Tea Time: During K’s naptime on the weekends, I make sure to make a pot of tea, and spend even just half an hour drinking tea and reading a book. Regardless of what else needs to be done at that moment, I know that I’ve got a little bit of time that’s just for me.
– The Switch-Off: J and I are both very introverted, but we also know that it’s important to spend time with our friends. On weeknights, we trade off on bedtime duty, and one of us goes out for a coffee or a drink with a friend. Even if it’s just a couple of hours on a Wednesday, it still refreshes me.
How do you manage to find ‘you-time’ in the midst of a busy life?