Not a concept I’m so familiar with these days. In fact, the closest I get to me-time is when I’m driving half way across the county to pick my 14-year-old up from football training on a Thursday night. Then it’s just me, Jo Whiley on Radio2 and her ‘taxi run service’ (if you’re lucky enough not to still be out taxiing kids around late in to the evening, it’s where Jo gives parents a chance to get a song of their choice played whilst out doing the ‘taxi run’).
Post-school evenings are full to brimming point and every weeknight involves ferrying kids backwards and forwards – sometimes needing to be in three places at once, which is naturally an easy feat to achieve … (thankfully I have a supportive and lovely partner and wonderful mummy friends to help share the load with).
Way back when (ok just over 14 years ago), and with no cares or massive responsibilities, there were literally days when I had so much time I didn’t always know what to do with it – I lolled around soaking up glorious amounts of special ‘me-time’. Sometimes (rarely) this involved a workout, but more likely, it was facials, massages, manicures, coffees and cocktails with friends (probably too much of that) and spontaneous anything – holidays, catch ups, dinners, dancing … I was super-indulgent and luckily at that time, had the monies to support my ‘me-time’ habit.
Everything changed of course, once baby no 1 rocked up; my whole ‘it’s all about me’ self-indulgence took a massive hit and a shock to the system was a bit of an understatement. I was convinced for a (short) time however, that I was the only new parent on the planet whose world and routines wouldn’t change because of a baby …
Baby no 2 arrived not long after, followed by baby no 3 – by which time I had become a bona fide ‘no-me-time’ mummy.
My three babies are now aged 9, 12 and 14 and whilst the older two are independent now in many ways (hooray!), the fact is that they have so many more clubs and social stuff going on that require ferrying around … So, a couple of quick tips for clawing back some much needed and completely deserved me-time.
1. When you have toddlers, absolutely stick to a regular bed time so that your littlies are tucked up in bed by a reasonable time giving you a chunk of evening that’s all yours – to do whatever. And not always the tidying up and boring stuff – leave it – it can wait. This is the time to get a friend around (or head out with one!); book a babysitter and head out with your partner; have a long soak in the bath; get to that yoga class … do something that you love as your me-time.
2. It gets a bit trickier as they get older and when you end up with not just a school timetable, but an after-school timetable too. This is when lift shares and play dates come in to their own. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – other parents will be feeling the same – share that load and free up occasional pockets of time. And keep sticking to bedtimes relevant to your kids ages.
3. Once at secondary school the gap between eldest child going to bed and your own bedtime narrows (if not becomes the same time even (wtf)). In our house (bad parent alert) we have a rule that at 9pm any wide-awake-kids have to disappear up to their respective room to watch TV and ‘wind down’ (in actuality, they will be on some kind of device but we just go with it now although the Wi-Fi goes off at 10pm and no deviation from this). That gives an hour of me-time (ish) – basically, that now means box-set heaven!!
And then, it’s beddy-byes time too – night, night.