Saturday, May 14, 2011

Grown-Up Time...It's Important!

When my daughter was born, I was new to the area.  I had just finished my graduate degree and was working very part-time at a public library.  It felt like everyone I knew was either a single-gal type college student, or a much older co-worker.  Or, an overly needy, TMI-type neighbor, but that's another story.  Add to this mix that my daughter cried about 92% of the time and slept about 2% of the time (or so it felt).  I remember my sister once asking about "quiet alert" time and me thinking "What the bleep is that???"  Clearly, this was a bad mix! 

When she was six months old, we moved to our current home in a neighboring town.  I started to become more involved in my church, I met neighbors young and old whom I have grown to love like family, I made some amazing girlfriends, and my daughter started sleeping long enough for my husband and I to actually share a meal and some conversation together from time to time.  Eureka!!!!  I didn't know how insanely depressed and psychotic I had actually become until I realized that I wasn't depressed and psychotic anymore.  So, here's my advice of the day for all of you desperate housewives out there: get thee some alone time, or some friend time, or some husband time, just get the heck away from those beautiful and wonderful little piranhas sometimes!  I'm not saying you need to be in the "club" four times a week; that is an entirely different type of problem.  Just take a few minutes a day or a night a week, whatever, to spend time by yourself or with a fellow grown-up who's company you actually enjoy.  Here is a quick list of some of my favorite "for me" activities:

Reading.  Simple, free, relaxing.  I try to take a few minutes every day and read a grown-up book.  It makes me feel like I still have a brain that isn't constantly rattling the Micky Mouse Clubhouse theme song. 

Exercise.  I don't need to tell you about the benefits of exercise; I need to tell myself more but I'm sure I'll get it sometime!  My favorite is an evening walk with a friend.  Much more enjoyable and feels a lot less like "work."  So, it's not gonna get me on the cover of any fitness magazines, but it is movement and I like it.  That's enough for now.

Book clubs.  Goes back to the reading thing, but it also gives you an excuse to hang with your girlfriends, and maybe flex your brain a little bit.  Or, just chat about your day.  Either way. 

Date nights.  Most of us don't have them nearly often enough, but it is important to look at that guy you call "Daddy" these days and remember "Oh, yeah.  We used to talk about other things!"

Volunteer work.  Yes, it is work but doing something that is meaningful to you or that supports a cause that is close to your heart is helpful if making you feel fulfilled as a person, outside of  your children.  If it makes you feel better, I don't do as much of this as I would like to.  But, I am an underpaid non-profit employee.  So, that's sort of its own form of volunteer work, right?

And of course, there is never anything wrong with a massage/pedicure/salon visit for an exhausted, hassled mommy!  I don't do this often enough myself but I never regret spending some time "primping" when I do.  

I love my children dearly.  I love snuggling them, brushing their silky hair, reading them stories, and so on.  But, I can honestly see why moms snap sometimes and do things that they regret.  It's a monotonous, stressful, under-appreciated, marathon of a job.  And, if you don't have a good support system, or stress-management skills, it can easily turn into a pressure-cooker of a situation.  So, think of some mommy time as letting a little steam out of the pot.  It's good for the family to have a happy mama! 

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