Finding ‘me’ time when you have small children is no mean feat.
It can be so easy to get caught up with their needs that it’s easy to forget about you and your needs.
‘Me’ time has been pretty rare around here lately. To be honest, looking after me has slipped so far down my ‘to do’ list that even the simple luxury of brushing my hair gets pushed to the wayside some days.
Once upon a time, I took pride in my appearance. I wore funky clothes. Clothes that were ironed and vomit-free. I wouldn’t leave the house without ensuring my hair was perfect, and my makeup, my makeup was a work of art.
Oh how times have changed. The other day, I went out without brushing my hair or teeth. As far as putting makeup on goes, it didn’t even cross my mind. And that, my friends, is not the worst of it. When I was putting Smiley into the car she baby-vomited on me. Instead of changing my clothes, I simply rubbed it into the material and kept on moving. I’m sure I smelled a treat!
This was a particularly bad day, but even still there are days when I feel like I don’t have any time for me at all. I give to everyone, but I don’t give to me. This can be emotionally draining and is so not healthy. I am aware of this though and am taking steps to change.
If you read my post … And what I should have said you will know that Dave was heading away for work and I wasn’t too keen on being left alone with the kids. I was determined though to totally rock at the solo parent gig and fit in some ‘me’ time as well.
And you know what? I did totally rock while Dave was away. The girls and I had an amazing time together. Their behaviour was faultless despite being sick and I even managed to slot in some ‘me’ time too.
While I’m no expert, (Dave was only away for a short time) these are my tips for survival. They all involve planning ahead and doing anything I could do before Dave left to make the time when he was away easier. This careful planning allowed me to have much needed down time from the kids.
- Drugs. No, not for you, what do you think this is?! While Dave was away both kids were sick. I made sure I was stocked up on Panadol, knew where the thermometers were and had the 13 Health number on hand.
- Petrol. I ensured I had a full tank just in case we needed to make an emergency trip to the doctor.
- Pre-prepare meals. I don’t know what happens at your house, but at around 4pm here the kids go total cray. They’re getting tired, cranky and whingey. I found having meals that I could quickly reheat for them and me made life so much easier. I could give them the attention they needed at this time rather than letting my blood pressure rise trying to cook while there is whinging and madness surrounding me. By the time I got the kids to bed most nights it was 7.30pm and who wants to be cooking then? Smiley was very unsettled due to her cold, so having pre-prepared meals meant I could focus more on her and then have more time for me when she finally did sleep.
- Clean the house. I know this is not always possible for time poor mums, but I feel so much more relaxed when the house is clean, especially just before I know it’s going to get a hell of a lot messier.
- Pre-plan different activities. I bought a couple of really cool creative kits for Curly-locks.
The first was a seed planting kit which involved decorating a pot and planting seeds. Watering the plant has become a daily ritual. She loves watching it grow.
The second kit was a canvas and collage kit, which involved lots of paint and glitter. What little girl doesn’t love glitter?
I also found it helped to get out of the house. Cabin fever is just not cool.
- Don’t show your fear. Never let onto your kids that you are scared, worried or not in control of the situation. They can smell the fear on you. I did my best to be as happy and calm as I could and it worked! Smiling is contagious after all!
- Ask for help. Involve family members. It’s good for you and it’s good for the kids. I was very lucky to have my brother-in-law visit from New Zealand while Dave was away. It was exciting for Curly-locks and it took her mind off missing Daddy. It was also great for me to have some adult conversation and help with swimming lessons and lunch. My brother and sister-in-law also paid me a visit while Dave was away and spoilt me with pizza, brownies and a DVD. These small spurts of adult time really made life easier.
These few things helped my time without Dave run as smoothly as it could and allowed me to feel calm and in control. In hindsight, I would have shaved my legs and washed my hair before Dave left to avoid interruption from a desperate toddler shouting ‘Poo, mummy! Pooooo!’ while I’m half way through my shower, but that’s another story
I put my hands up to any parent who does this regularly and for weeks on end. I can’t begin to imagine how FIFO families cope.
Does your other half go away often? How do you make time for you? If you’re the one working away, how do you cope?