I never had people advising me to take a bubble bath until I became a mother. It’s like you have a kid and suddenly everyone realizes you need alone time, but nobody can come up with a good way to spend it. Baths make me prune-y. Massages make me fall asleep. Spas don’t let you nap there for long (rude), which also goes for movie theaters (also rude). Whereas alone time was a built-in part of most people's lives before they had kids, after the baby-bomb drops, it's suddenly like, "Wait, how to hell do I get to be alone for 5 minutes, and do I even remember what to do with my aloneness once I've rightly taken it back?"
So you mostly just end up feeling weirdly ecstatic about the most banal things, if you find a way to do them sans kids. Let’s be honest: Before you had kids, running to the bank was a perfectly boring chore. After you have kids, if they don’t accompany you, that chore becomes a mini-vacation. As a mom, I’m on the clock 24/7. Even if I'm not actively momming the whole time, I'm always on call. If I didn’t take time to experience simple, solo pleasures, I would totally lose my sense of self. I was fully formed before having kids, so getting away from my kids for a while to remember that I still am fully formed as a person is an essential reminder.
Being solo is key to these excursions. Book clubs, girls’ nights out, and co-op shareholder meetings are super fun for engaging in a little non-kid mental stimulation, but they’re less fulfilling when you just don’t want to talk to anyone. Being social takes energy, and there is so little of that left after tending to tiny humans most of my non-working hours. The opportunity to be quiet needs to be seized.
Here are some of my favorite me-time activities that don’t involve booking spa appointments in advance or having to shell out much for a babysitter.
Roam A Big-Box Store
I touch all the pretty nail polishes. I buy occasion cards for the next five years (and try not to forget where I put them). It’s bliss.
Use The bathroom
I don’t have to use it to do bathroom things. Sometimes I interview myself in the mirror. Or purge old medication. Or lie down on the cool tile floor and feel grounded. But mostly I just turn the water on and scroll through Pinterest for 20 minutes.
It is essential for me to have some screen time that doesn’t require answering a little TV detective, or explaining Curious George’s questionable choices. There is no bad TV. It is all good when I can watch it alone.
At a hotel bar. A taco cart. In my bed, armed with frosting and a spoon. I just want to feed myself.
Go Bra Shopping And Get Felt Up By Old Ladies Who Know What You Need
Seriously, are we still wearing nursing bras from two years ago? Save me, Bra-Fitting Ladies.
Or take a nap. Whatever. Same diff'.
Make Yourself Feel Clean And Beautiful And Not Covered In Baby Food And Sweat
No matter how much you do or don’t care about how you look, taking time to make your body look and feel amazing is never not worthwhile. And you need to be alone to do your hair, nails, or feet. And ideally have someone else do it. It’s a nice break from the thankless job of wiping noses and washing food out of kids’ crevices.
Take A Walk
Stroll without having to be somewhere. Especially somewhere with children.
Write A Love Letter To Yourself
My kids love me unconditionally, but have a funny way of showing it, like when they use me as a towel. Tell yourself what a kick-ass job you’re doing and how amazing your kids will turn out because of you. Write all the things you’d ever love to read about yourself. Just don’t turn it into a grocery list.
Spend The Night Alone
This is a rare opportunity and might only present itself as part of a business trip. I powered through the guilt when I had to fly to another city for a couple of nights of work, and what helped? Room service and not having to make my own bed.
Smell Their Sheets
Sometimes, even when I want to be alone, I miss my kids. So short of having a baby’s head to sniff, I’ll grab their blankies and take take a long whiff. Smells like home. (I suspect this will not be something I will continue doing once they enter middle school. #smellsliketeenspirit)
Images: NBC; Giphy(12)