Mythical Mommy Me-Time

Hi Moms. Lets talk about you. As a mom, the focus is no longer on you. It used to be but as soon as you got pregnant the questions became about your skills as a human incubator and the being that you would soon expel. Once said being is out in the world, life is no longer about YOU. Life as you previously knew it is over.

Now, if you want to have a baby, are pregnant, or have a new baby and you think that after getting into the swing of things you will get back to the ‘you’ you were, I am sorry to break the bad news. ‘You’ will never be the same. And that is okay. Your heart has grown. You’ve gained more perspective. You are less selfish. You are likely more organized, can multi-task and do more with your time than before you had kids. But it was all your time. And that is really hard to give up.

You don’t get breaks from motherhood and the chores that go with being an adult. At least, you won’t if you don’t take them for yourself. It was a hard transition for me to realize that my wants no longer mattered. You’re tired? Oh well, you have to feed the baby at all hours of the night. You’re hungry? Your little one has an ear infection but you haven’t figured that out yet and it’ll take you another 10 hours to clue in and take her to the doctor, so stuff a granola bar in your mouth and rock that baby. You haven’t showered in 4 days? Don’t worry, your kid will wipe their nose on you the minute you are freshly showered and dressed so it won’t matter all that much anyway. You know who doesn’t care? Your kids. Sometimes your hubby because he truly doesn’t know how spent you are. The rest of the world because it keeps turning without thinking of you.

This was difficult for me to reconcile. Most of the time I was over the moon with my little ones from the moment they were born. But sometimes it was really hard to realize that no one cared that I wanted to sit uninterrupted with no children crawling on me for 5 minutes. I wanted to go to the bathroom in peace. Fat chance.

But. There is more. You will grow. Out of the ashes, a Phoenix will rise and all that. You will get a handle on a semblance of a routine (don’t trust those who tell you that a baby doesn’t need a routine – they do, you do). And out of that routine, you can carve some time for yourself.

Now, new moms often resist this. They think that no one can care for their children like them. This is false. It is really, really hard to accept, but it’s false. If you have a mom or mother-in-law or well meaning aunt or neighbor, take them up on their offer to watch your precious bundle. Do it early. When babies are young, they sleep, poop and eat. Do it then. Even for an hour. You will go crazy for that hour but the next time you drop the kid off or have your sitter come over, it will be easier. Each time is easier.

Now, this next part is difficult:

Step 1: Pick up a pen

Step 2: Go to a calendar (or hey, if you have a phone, open the calendar)

Step 3: Pick an evening that you will take for yourself. You can have your spouse or partner or your babysitter watch the kid.

Step 4 – and this is the hardest part: Follow through. Put on some pants that are not of the yoga or sweat-pant variety. Don a t-shirt or even something cuter. Throw on some make-up if you have some. Grab that purse and simply leave the house. It does’t matter what you do but get out of the house and treat yourself to some uninterrupted alone time.

You could go for a coffee, go to a movie, go to the gym, go see your friends, go get a pedicure. Even just go for a walk. Take deep breaths and be thankful you don’t have a stroller with you. For example, I have a standing “Dinner Group” date once a month with about 10 friends where we get together and try new restaurants. It is a standing event, usually booked 2 weeks ahead of time, when I can see my friends that I don’t see very often any more.

Most importantly, if you are not one for going out because you are so exhausted, arrange for a time where you can enjoy a long bath or shower, catch up on Netflix or a book and relax. 

Of course, this is easier said than done. If it was so easy, I’d be out at least once a week. But life gets busy and I’m lucky if I get 2-3 nights/afternoons/mornings per month to myself. And that is okay. But when I tell my hubby that I need time to myself to hit recharge he respects that. If he didn’t I’d be sure to call up my lovely mother/sister/friend. Life is as easy as you make it.

And you’d better believe husbands should grab some me-time as well. Ladies, I know that you want your partner to take the squalling child as soon as they walk through the door after work. However, his life has changed in a major way too. If he is home all the time, push him to go out with his buddies or hit up the gym. He’ll be better for it. You’ll have something to talk about on the all-important ‘date night’ which is great if you can snag a couple of times per month.

You are still important. You cannot run solely on sleep deprivation, coffee and a dash of insanity. It just takes a little more work to get time to yourself. Pencil in your me-time. For the love of yourself, pencil it in.

Cayley1

Maniacal  happiness paired with hilarious glasses and wine? Sometimes that’s how I do my me time…

 

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January is the Monday of the Year

I’m not sure if I am pleased January is done or if I feel jipped and want a do-over. After the whirlwind of Christmas, I expect a bit of a reprieve in the New Year and that didn’t exactly happen for 2016.

In December I had returned to work from my second maternity leave. My two boys and I still hadn’t gotten into an evening routine. My one year old, Nickson (aka Bubba), would cry belligerently at me from the moment we arrived home until supper was on the table. My husband had started a new job as foreman at a welding shop. This was great considering the many trades people that were out of work in the province, however this also meant longer days so I had to pick up the slack with the kids. My job was stressful at the time. I applied to university. And I turned the big 3-0 on the 21st, which is unceremoniously dumped 3 days after Blue Monday (statistically the most depressing date of the year).

I was rushed, annoyed and generally felt hard done by. After waking at least twice a night (Bubba, who had slept through the night since he was two months old, no longer did), my day began at 5:30 a.m. so that I could get myself ready before the kids woke up. I then got the kids breakfast, ready for daycare and out the door, which some days is a feat in itself. Off we raced to day care, followed by my 30 minute commute and a so-so work day, from which I rushed to pick up the kids. Upon arrival home, I would make supper with Bubba clawing at my legs for food (he will not snack – I have tried – he wants a full meal as soon as we enter the house), dinner, dishes, and the bedtime routine. Hubby would get home anywhere between dinner and bed time. FINALLY! Cue the chorus of angels: time to myself – oh wait, no Cayley! I was ambitious and applying to the U of A for my Masters so I went to work on my application until 11 p.m. or so. Afterward, I would be lucky if I remembered to shower then collapse into bed. I felt stuck in a vortex where I had absolutely no time for myself.

Exhibit A – text messages to friends:

Text (1)  Text (2)

Don’t worry, I am aware that I should be thankful for all that I have. I am part of the stressed out first world with problems that include clean drinking water, shelter, food, dual incomes, democracy, iPhones, The Bachelor, etc. There are so many more people with larger, more difficult problems than I. My life and the decisions I have made are mine – but at the time, I didn’t care. I was overwhelmed. I was frustrated.

Then, just as things were turning around and we were getting into the swing of things with life: my kids and I came down with strep throat. Between both sick kids and myself, I missed nearly two weeks of work. Hubby tried to help as much as he could but he was working from 6 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. or even midnight. The only positive was that he didn’t catch what we had.

Bubba, who never likes to be held or cuddled, laid on me for two full days as his little body was wrought with fever. As much as I loved holding my baby, it unnerved me because I knew that meant he was really sick. Connor, my thoughtful little three year old, fared slightly better though he didn’t escape without a few days on the couch with a fever. We took various trips to the walk-in clinic and each of us received a round of antibiotics.



The result of my frustrated life coupled with family sickness? I had to slow down. My kids’ illnesses forced me to lay with them on the couch and let the dishes sit in the sink. I spent time taking temperatures and administering prescriptions. When they awoke in the night, I would feel their forehead with worry and hold them until they fell back asleep. Each day that they felt better, I felt better too. We took it one step at a time.

I had forgotten what was important. I had let the rush of life get to me. I had allowed time to slip by with no purpose.

As a result, I’ve slowed down. I try to plan ahead. I try to accomplish small things that will save me time the next day. I’ll prep dinner an evening in advance since I know my little guy will be demanding when we get home. I’ll fold my husband’s laundry or make his lunch as I know he is working hard to provide for our family. I’ll lay in bed with my three year old and tickle his back as he falls asleep. Dishes can wait. It’s a hard lesson to learn, and one that I am constantly re-learning, but the house can wait.

I’m happy that the armpit that was January is over. It is truly the Monday of the year and I am thankful to have a chance at Tuesday.

 

Is Everyone Blogging Without Me?

074A5839As I viciously keyed “natural cold remedies” into my computer’s search engine whilst awaiting the moment my one year old would cough so violently it would make him barf and wake him, I was assaulted by a wave of parenting blogs with solutions galore. Humidifiers, honey (but not if your child is under one year of age), cuddling, coddling, cod liver oil, nasal aspirators, steam showers, massage and more were the suggestions that jumped out upon first search. A few sites recounted the benefits of administering acetaminophen or ibuprofen in the recommended dosage, but then others admonished giving your precious little one any drugs (with a capital ‘D’). I was confused. And sleep deprived. It was 3:23 a.m and I had to be up for work in two hours. Finally, when my son coughed like he was hacking on a wishbone and awoke (thankfully with no puke), I shoved a dose of Tylenol in his mouth, rocked him and hoped for the best.

I got my two hours of sleep. And my coffee was bullet proof the next morning.

But something else occurred to me the following day as I wiped my babe’s bottom and prepped him for daycare: blogs. There were so many. Forget the amount of advice given on WebMD and BabyCenter. Blogs were it. At least, for mom’s looking for viable solutions and answers that have been tested by other moms.

There were blogs for hippie moms, stay at home moms, Christian moms, working moms, paleo moms, Alpha moms. And lets not forget the dads! Usually with a funny ‘I’m a dad and I don’t know what I’m doing’ sort of banter, the dad blogs were often my favourite.

The glaring fact was: there was a blog for everything and everyone from all walks of life. It was like each person thought “hey! I’ve popped out a kid or two, surely someone wants to hear about it.” And we do! I want to hear about others experiences because in this Internet infested world, I do want parenting advice from those who have been in the trenches. I want to know tips and tricks that will help my son sleep through the night. I want to know a fun way to make my kid eat spinach. I want to laugh at a humorous post about vacuuming the house with a glass of wine in hand! Above all, I want to glean some information from a community of other parents, since the village mentality is quite dead in this day and age.

So here I am, with the same thought. I have a couple of kids, a husband, a house, a job and an English degree not being put to use. Surely someone will want to hear my wealth of tried and true info I’ve stored in my stressed out mom memory banks. Right? Shouldn’t I contribute to the global village that is now a mass of Internet blogs?

So here’s what I know so far: Do what works for you. Do what lets you get some sleep. Do what will make your kids decent human beings. Do something that makes you happy.

Welcome, friends. Here are Your Little Years.