On Sunday, July 28, 2013 I hopped on a plane to Washington, DC. Not because I was traveling for work or participating in a political rally, I flew those 850+ miles to attend a concert with my girlfriend. And, I left behind my husband and eight-month-old daughter.
I can hear your gasps already. Go ahead, call me immature, irresponsible, irrational, I can take it, because, for approximately 36 hours, when I stepped out of my mom, wife, housekeeper, chef (and the list goes on) roles, my title was simply ME and it was glorious!
When I became a mother, I gained so much, but also quickly realized I would be required to GIVE in massive doses. As I struggled to understand and appreciate my new identity and the intensity it required from my body, mind and soul, it became clear that I needed to carve out time to reconnect with mySELF to avoid a serious mental health crisis.
Simple, right? As moms, and women in general, scheduling and, more importantly, executing “me time” (those precious moments that recharge and refresh your spirit) is often our most difficult task.
When I temporarily removed my “caretaker” hat in July, it wasn’t without preparation. With a bit of planning and coordination with my husband and our support team (aka “the grandmas”), I filled the refrigerator with breast milk, restocked the pantry with baby supplies and packed one small, carry-on bag. And then, (and this is the good part) I walked out the door guilt-free and excited to fulfill a life-long dream (to see a band I had followed since age 10), reconnect with my girlfriend and enjoy MY time.
I understand this scenario may seem extravagant and/or extreme to some of you, but that doesn’t matter, it just proves my point – the trip was all about ME and no one else.
Please understand, I, by no means, live a jet-setting life, but I have made a commitment to myself and my family to:
1) Ask for support!
2) Include “Shelley” in the household budget even if I can only afford to save a few dollars a month (my husband receives similar funding!), and
3) Schedule and enjoy “me time” on a regular basis.
Ready to get started? I have found that many of my favorite “me” moments most often involve the things I took for granted pre-motherhood, like a hot shower; grocery shopping sans child and; I really love this one, driving in the car alone with the windows down, sun roof open and LOUD, rock music on the radio!
We owe it to ourselves, our children, our partners, our co-workers and our friends and family to make “self care” a priority. My friend Jenny Fenig, who is also a successful mom, entrepreneur and soul coach, offers some sage advice for making space to reignite the relationship you have with yourSELF:
CONNECT: Do you love jazz music, modern art, foreign films, marathons, hot baths, knitting, photography, writing? What makes you happy?
RELEASE GUILT: Let it go. Feeling guilty about having time to yourself is a waste of energy.
DATE NIGHT: Make a date with yourself to do something you love. Schedule it in your calendar. Rest assured, the world will not stop just because you’ve taken a break.
LET PEOPLE DOWN (with grace): How many times have you agreed to something you did NOT want to do because you were too afraid to say no? Practice saying “no, thanks” (do it now!). It gets easier with time. If it’s challenging to say that two-letter word, buy time with the magical phrase: “Let me think about it and get back to you.”
Remember, ME isn’t a four letter word, so don’t be ashamed to say it. Now, go get your calendar and schedule a date with yourself. You deserve it!