Life can get pretty hectic these days (and I’m not just talking about the Christmas silly season). Everything’s a fine balance (where possible). Gotta have quality mum and bub time, every day getting sh*t done (usually with toddler in tow) time, couple time, being with friends and family time, me-time for the husband and me-time for the wife lady (that’s me). I think you can guess which items usually get left off the list (hint: it’s not the mum and bub time one or the getting sh*t done one).
Sometimes achieving this balance can seem easy. The social opportunities come rolling in, things just seem to fit in with our crazy daily schedules, everything just feels right. Other times it’s just go go go. Hitting the daily grind. Add to that a lack of quality sleep and it’s nutso zombie lady time.
For most of us, me-time can be a massive luxury, but every now and then we really need to take a stand and ask for it. I usually see the red flags not long before me-time becomes not just a luxury but a necessity. It can be a slow burn (sometimes even months), but eventually everything catches up with me and there is no denying that I am *this* close to taking a one way trip to Crazy Lady town.
What are my red flags? Insomnia. The kind where you have been so busy that the only time your brain has time to process anything is that moment after you’ve woken up for a middle of the night toilet excursion. I can be awake for hours thinking about the day I just had, current world events, the days ahead. When I haven’t had time to think (or even feel) during a day, this becomes my nightmare because then I start the next day feeling exhausted, unable to think straight and the cycle continues. It can take about a week for this to become a massive problem!
Lack of enthusiasm/energy. I hate this one the most. It makes me feel like a terrible mum and then the guilts just eat me up inside. I usually find a lot of joy in being a very hands on, interactive parent and when I find myself flopped on the couch just staring into space, while the Little Mister plays around me, I know it’s time to do something about it. I’m all for him playing independently (and he is getting really good at it), but sometimes when what feels like a whole day has passed and I realise I didn’t read him a book, take him somewhere or even just sit down with him for a while, soaking up who he is and where he’s at, I start to feel bad. The whole point of me being lucky enough to be a stay at home mum is to be able to be there for him. This is probably my biggest red flag of all. I hate knowing I went through the motions of the day, staying vigilant, feeding him his meals, changing his nappies etc, without actually being there.
Withdrawal from the world. I am usually the first person to jump at any opportunity to head out and do something each day. If there’s some task that involves leaving the house, whether it’s a lovely opportunity to catch up with friends/my mum, an activity for the Little Mister to participate in, or even a trip to the shops, I am all for getting us out of the house at least once a day if we’re able to do so. It’s when I start to feel overwhelmed, like it’s all too much to just drive five minutes down the road, that I have to tell myself that something needs to change.
Getting stuck in my head. These are the days when I start to feel a bit down or a bit anxious. I’ll find social networking (usually such a great support and connection to the adult world) too much to bear. I’ll start worrying about things that I shouldn’t waste my energy on and I’ll generally just be doing a bit too much navel-gazing. Luckily, over the years I have learnt how to recognise this and I don’t let it spill out into my relationships (except the occasional slip up where I have a little bitch to my husband about the silly thing that’s bothering me – that’s usually also a red flag for him to give me some space). I know that the things I am worrying about are just me getting stir crazy and I just need to get out for a bit (by myself). Regain some perspective. It’s important to not let molehills become mountains.
Anyone recognise these red flags????
Often, it can be hard to use opportunities to take some me-time. I will either feel guilty and start ‘doing stuff’, while my husband protests (he knows how much nicer I am to be around when I feel energised and inspired – the same way I feel about him having some space for himself too), or I will feel like I’ll never get an opportunity to just feel some quiet. Sometimes I fill my ‘me’ time with friends (trying too hard to capitalise on free time), and while I have the kinds of friends who make you feel amazing after being with them, I find it doesn’t fill the void in my life where true me-time should have occurred.
I know when people think of ‘me time’ they can have this vision of a selfish lady of leisure being pampered all day in a spa type situation. That can be totally awesome on those (rare) special occasions when you have the time, cash or a gift certificate, but sometimes it’s the little things. Sometimes we can only grab an hour here or there. I find that if I use that hour right, and have the right support (read – care of the Little Mister) during that time, it can make a hell of a difference until that next spare hour.
Recently my husband has been working his butt off. He’s been on a wonderful work roster where he gets to see the Little Mister every single day, but he hasn’t had much time off (last minute extra shifts etc). It’s been almost a month of him working non stop, with me negotiating the silly season, and dealing with a little bout of PMS and we are both exhausted! Yesterday I had to put my hand up and let him know that I felt really selfish, but I was struggling (obviously I recognise he’s not had me-time either for a long time). I was willing to soldier on (just one more day to go until he has time off), but I just had to let him know where I was at.
He was amazing. He took over all the late afternoon/early evening chores, played with the Little Mister (this warmed my heart to hear them hanging out together – just the two of them having a giggle) and ordered me not to lift a finger until the Little Mister was in bed. At first I emptied a few bins around the house and took the rubbish out, before attempting to put some dishes in the dishwasher…but then my husband said, “Get out of here! You need to do NOTHING. Just do something that makes you feel nice. It’s obvious you need this time. I can’t have you feeling mental for another day!”
I’m sure his motivations were partly selfish (hello – who doesn’t want a sane wife to deal with?), but in that hour or so I was able to paint my nails, watch Ellen and read all about Hamish Blake’s wedding to Zoe Foster in Woman’s Day magazine (I’m soooo embarrassing). By the time the Little Mister was out of his bath, I was in his bedroom wanting to give him his night time bottle, despite my husband offering to do that for me.
I felt a little bit more relaxed, but wondered if it had made that much of a difference. Turns out it did. I slept better last night (despite my husband’s erratic snoring habits). I woke up this morning feeling inspired, rather than hit-by-a-bus. My brain actually feels like it has room in it again! A day in with the Little Mister feels like just what the doctor ordered (rather than a prison sentence). Housework feels like an achievable undertaking! I put it down to this: I had been staring at my nails for weeks as they got all raggedy and the remnants of a month agos’ home manicure looked sad and trashy. I felt like crap that I hadn’t been looking after myself. Having bright, red coral nails that are all the same shape as each other, looking kind of festive has made me feel like a woman who’s got her sh*t together. Such a small thing can make a huge difference. Also? My husband was so kind to me that it made me feel happy about our relationship (we’ve come a long way over the years). That’s always something nice to be feeling.
I am still tired, but I am now feeling re-energised and able to take on the next few days before Christmas. I will be reminding my husband how important his me-time is too (he really does need it as he’s very helpful around the house and hands on with the Little Mister when he can be).
I hope that everyone who reads this will be able to find just a little bit more time for themselves (guilt free). Perhaps it’s a good New Year’s resolution? xo
What is your favourite me-time activity?