I was typing away in a group chat about how going to Target or the grocery store alone is “me” time and I enjoy it. Another mom said her nightly baths are her “me” time and she looks forward to them every single day.
Another friend chimed in and said she refused to accept her life is about taking time for herself in tiny moments. “Showering and going to Target alone doesn't count as ‘me’ time. Those are daily or weekly things that we have to do! Since when did we find so much pleasure in walking around a store alone?”
Um, as soon as I had kids, that’s when it started for me. After a few trips of taking all three kids along with me, I realized my peace and most of my brain weren't going to be there if they were. Going to the grocery store, or any store alone is a luxury. I stop and get a Diet Coke, take my time, follow a list, I can think, and I get in my car and I feel revived because I got a break.
As a mom, these tiny moments are just about all I get. I want to be there for my three kids. I want to bring them to school. I want to be home when they are home. I want to be able to go to every game. I want to be the one they come to when they need anything. But that doesn’t mean I don’t need time for myself. I’m more than fine with getting less of it because this was my choice.
This is the case for a lot of moms — we are working and mothering all the time. Those tiny ‘me’ moments are what get us through our day; our weeks; our life. These are the times when we can recharge and gain perspective. There have been times when I needed a breather and a trip to Target alone to pick up a set of new sheets has given me life. Then, I’m able to go home and be a better mother.
Long gone are the days when I can randomly go away for the weekend, meet up with friends for dinner with five minutes' notice, or decide to go to the mall on a random Tuesday afternoon. When I was able to do things like that, of course, the grocery store trips weren’t as relaxing and fun.
I still think things like vacations and massages are paradise. I’d love to have a spa day or get a massage while someone comes over to clean my house. And while those things happen on very rare occasions, having them happen often isn’t realistic for me or for a lot of moms I know.
So, yeah those tiny “me” moments when we get to do some of those things we need to do anyway, alone, are what give us fuel to make it through the next long stretch of being a mom.
Finding time to incorporate alone time or self-care for a mother is almost impossible, especially if you are a single mom like me. I don’t care in the least if some people think doing things like going to yoga or having a therapeutic session in a parking lot with Starbucks and no one talking, is sad. This is our reality and all that a lot of us can manage with these tiny moments.
Being a mother has taught me so much. One of those things is being thankful for the little things in life like silence, going to the store to get new throw pillows, eating lunch at a restaurant by myself, or having the time to clean my entire body without a crisis, is a big deal. Last night I went into my room and did my nails without one knock on the door.
Today I am going to go get a caffeinated beverage and get the car washed. And while I’m sitting there sipping on my soda and watching the suds run down my car I am going to take time to center myself and breathe because being a mom can’t wait; getting some ‘me’ time is necessary, and I will have years upon years when my kids are gone to take those vacations and get those massages whenever the hell I want.
Katie Bingham-Smith is a full-time freelance writer living in Maine with her three teens and two ducks. When she’s not writing she’s probably spending too much money online and drinking Coke Zero.