For the longest time I swore I didn't want children. Every time I made that promise I was serious, too, because I just knew motherhood meant I would lose my identity. Yeah, I was wrong. Sure, I have changed and evolved since I brought my son into the world, but motherhood didn't strip me of my identity and rearrange DNA strands and make me into an entirely different person. In fact, there are "kid free" things I still do for myself, even though I'm a mother, that have kept me grounded in my pre-baby identity, all while making room for the inevitable changes parenthood brings. It's kind of the best of both worlds, you guys.
Now that I'm a mother to a "spirited" 2-year-old toddler, I'm a little embarrassed that I bought into the preconceived notion that motherhood means you no longer do anything for yourself. I guess I should have known better, but society does a pretty bang-up job of convincing women that in order to be a "good mom," you have to be a martyr. And, well, I didn't feel like losing myself in the care of another human being. Call me selfish, but I think it's good self-care to continue to focus on yourself and your dreams and your needs and your desires, all while caring for another person, too. You really and truly can do both.
So, while I am nothing short of passionately committed to caring for, loving, and providing my son with everything he needs and most of what he wants, I also am committed to caring for myself, too. Just because I'm a mom doesn't mean I need to say goodbye to every single thing I did, loved, and enjoyed during my pre-baby life. In fact, I enjoy this "kid-free" things on a pretty daily basis, because #momlife doesn't mean #nolife.
Go To Work
I'm a working mom, which means every morning, Monday through Friday, I walk out my apartment door and leave my son behind. He stays with his dad (who is going to school) and I spent the majority of my day child-free, focusing on my career and not my son.
I'm sure I'm supposed to feel bad about that, but I really don't. My work is not only giving me a sense of purpose and making me feel fulfilled in a way motherhood can't, it's also the reason why my son has a roof over his head, food in his stomach, toys to play with, clothes to wear, and the ability to go on adventures during the weekend.
Read A Book
Sure, I do spend a significant amount of time reading about Thomas the Train or whatever shenanigans Elmo and Grover are into these days, but I also take the time to read books that interest me, too. I used to love reading, and motherhood got in the way of that for a while because, well, who has the time to read and take care of a newborn simultaneously?
Now I find the time to lose myself in a book, and it really brings me back to my pre-baby life.
Take Myself Out On A Date
My partner and I have this awesome routine that allows us to, essentially, date ourselves while simultaneously being in a relationship and being parents. Every other week one of us will go out by ourselves, enjoying dinner and a movie alone. It reminds me of all those times I was single, pre-relationship and pre-baby, spending time with me and only me. It's refreshing, it's stress-free, and it's kind of awesome.
Go Out With Friends
Sure, I don't go out as frequently as I did before I became a mother, but I still make a point to hit the town with my girlfriends every once in a while. My friendships were so important to me before I met my partner and before I had a baby, and they're just as important (if not more so) now. I'm so thankful that I still have a great, supportive group of girlfriends to see me through the trials and tribulations of motherhood, and spending time with them makes me feel like no matter what happens in my life (including procreation) I'm still me.
Spend One-On-One Time With My Partner
Again, date nights and one-on-one time is much harder to come by now that my partner and I have a son, but we still make those moments a priority. When we can spend time together, sans our son, I'm reminded that this wonderful man can still make me feel as excited and special as he did the day I met him. It's great to get back to the "basics," essentially, and remember that our romantic relationship is just as important as our parenting relationship.
Say Up Late
Because I'm a working mom and my son likes to wake up at the break of freakin' dawn, I try to get to bed at a reasonable (read: stupid early) hour. However, sometimes my partner and I like to say, "The hell with it," and stay up way past our "bedtime." We'll play video games, watch a few scary movies, or just talk and it's totally worth it.
I might suffer for it in the morning, but those late nights remind me of my pre-baby life and, in the end, are totally worth the extra cup of coffee (or two) I'll need in the morning.
Sleep In On The Weekend (Sometimes)
OK, this definitely doesn't happen all the time, or even that regularly. My kid is basically a human alarm clock. However, with the help of my partner, sometimes I really can be lazy and sleep in on a Saturday or Sunday morning. I get to recharge my batteries and feel like, for even a moment, I don't have the responsibilities I know are waiting for me when I eventually get out of bed.
Pro Tip: trade on and off with your partner and, every once in a while, give yourselves the wondrous gift of a lazy morning. It'll do you both wonders.
Splurge On Manicures And Pedicures
Sometimes it takes up too much time and sometimes it isn't financially feasible, but when I can I definitely give myself the guilt-free permission to enjoy a manicure and a pedicure. I used to get them every other week before I had a baby (who, by the way, is super expensive) and when I can have an hour or two focus on myself, and only myself, I feel like a brand new, pre-baby me. It's the best.
Truth time: I used to hate cooking. I really only disliked it because I wasn't great at it, and I wasn't great at it because I didn't spend a significant amount of time (read: any amount of time) in the kitchen. Once I found myself in a relationship and after I had a baby, that changed. I honestly love cooking, and find it to be a really relaxing way to pass the time. If I can have a few hours in the kitchen alone, making something that I know my family will enjoy, I feel as if I had just come back home from a vacation.
So, if my partner can entertain our son and I can be left to my own cooking devises, all the better.
Spend Time Alone
It's hard to find a significant amount of alone time when you're a mom, I'll admit it. However, even if it's just a few minutes in locked in the bathroom or a couple hours that I'm able to steal away when my kid naps on the weekends, I'm a better mom when I have some time to myself.
I used to spend so much time alone before I had a baby, even when I was in a relationship. I'm definitely one of those people who need to have that "alone time" in order to feel, well, like myself. Motherhood hasn't changed that part of me, so any time I can spend time by myself is time that will better equip me to be the mom my son deserves.