(Long Island, N.Y.) The busy and hectic schedule of taking care of two children under the age of three, gives me little time to primp and get all pretty. Ah–the good old days, when I could spend FOREVER getting all dolled up for a night out. Those days of lip-gloss and two coats of mascara are long gone. Now, I am lucky to have on a pair of matching socks. Chances are, I showered in a mad rush, and threw my hair up in a pony-tail. That’s being generous. Some days, I roll out of bed and head to the grocery store—as is. Think: Nick Nolte’s mug shot a few years back.
As a reminder of what I can look like, when I am blessed with precious time for hair and make-up, there’s a photograph of myself all “dolled up” tucked away in my wallet. Every time my son looks at it, he looks at me, looks at the picture, looks at me again, laughs, and says: “Two mommies!”
Two Mommies? Oh, I cringed, has it gotten that bad. My own son just took a jab at my ego without even knowing it. But I realized he was right. I’ll admit it. Sometimes I walked around the house as if my husband was blind: oatmeal smeared all over my sweats, the ends of my hair dipped in maple syrup, sporting red fuzzy slippers I SWORE I’d never wear…and worst of all, a smug, tired, “get me the hell out of here” look on my face.
Somewhere along the way I forgot about myself. I realized it was about time for a much needed change. And my disheveled appearance not the only thing UNDONE. There were stacks of books I wanted to read, a pile of magazine’s I meant to flip through, a growing list of friends I needed to catch up with, a scrap-booking kit I’ve never even opened—the list was mounting. I felt lost. I wondered…where do I find time for me? Truth is– you don’t. Finding time is impossible, but MAKING time is key when it comes to your own well being.I realized it was about time I took action. Here’s how:
Send out an S.O.S If you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, tired, or are in just plain need of time for yourself—speak up. Your friends and family are usually more than happy to help out, if you ask. But the asking part isn’t so easy for some parents. If you simple say: I need help, you would be surprised how many people are happy to step up and lend a hand. It really is as easy as saying…”can you do me a favor?” Sometimes dads don’t realize how tough it is for moms who never have time off. So don’t be shy about asking for the time you need and deserve.
Enjoy your night-life. Back in the day, I used to get excited about trendy new club promoting “ladies night”. Now nothing gets me giddier than a sign hung in the window chain-restaurant that reads: “Monday Nights KIDS EAT FREE”. Woo-hoo. Things sure have changed, but there’s no other place in the world I’d rather be on any night, is with my kids. Yet I still have given myself the opportunity to enjoy the night. Instead of cleaning when the kids go to sleep, I try to accomplish as much as possible when they are awake. While they settle down, and brush their teeth, I’ll tackle the toy room. I do my best to clean as we go throught the day, so when they finally do get to sleep—the rest of the night is mine all mine.
Get thee to the gym. While you’ll never find me in the front row at the “boot-camp for abs” class, I do try to make the most of my gym time. (Except the time I was lying on the mat stretching–when I fell asleep!) Although I am trying to get rid of those last pregnancy pounds, joining the gym was for me was less about looking buffed, and more about time for myself. Usually, I’ll walk on the thread mill–even jog when I’m feeling spunky. Most gyms offer a wide variety of class like Pilates, Yoga, and Tai-Chi, to get your mind focused and your body in shape.( I really did fall asleep at the gym once!)
To Grandmother’s house we go. My sister is too funny. When she drops off her two kids for dinner at grandma’s house, she packs their suitcases for an overnight stay. Why not? Grandma and grandpa are always ecstatic to have their grandchildren stay for a sleep-over. Grandparents have a special bond with their grandchildren, and they are always (happily) on-call for baby sitting duties. Chances are the grandparents and the kids had far more fun than you did on your night off. “What happens at grandma’s…stays at grandmas!”
Nix the guilt. When you finally find yourself with free time to do whatever your heart desires, the single most important thing to do is to enjoy yourself. If dad takes over and you head out for a stroll through the mall (minus the stroller), you don’t want to spend your time feeling guilty about taking time for yourself. Don’t worry or wonder what’s going on back home. Chances are, everything is under control. Don’t worry about the mess you are sure to come home to. Take your time, and do whatever you need to do to unwind. A smoothie and a pretzel in the food court: about eight dollars. One hour spent at the cosmetic counter sampling the latest lip-gloss: PRICELESS!