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Single Motherhood & "Me-Time"

I smirked, then chuckled during a recent text session with Aunt Nic (my fabulous single girlfriend from NYC). In short, she told me I make no time for myself and I really need to start paying attention to my needs—as in emotional health, exercise, er, dating. She’s right and I wish I had the time for this kind of stuff, truly I do. But, I’m a single mom in every sense of the word, single. My son’s father doesn’t participate by his choice. Every now and then I use a sitter, but the going hourly rate in NJ is between $10 and $12—add that on to whatever it costs for me to enjoy a night out (it's a lot). My family helps, but they work and have lives too (my older brother just got married), so for the most part, it’s JD and me—“We a team, Mommy!” JD says. Yes, we are—and over the past few years, I’ve learned to sneak some “Me Time” in, even if JD is in tow.

Last night, just like every Sunday night, I filled the tub with water and bubbles, Matchbox cars, boats and cups. I submerged JD into the foamy, sweet-smelling bath and then I tended to a beauty need, by smearing on Bliss Steep Clean. It’s a great, deep-cleansing facial mask that takes about 15-minutes to work. I leave it on for (bonus!) 20, or the amount of time JD plays/bathes in the tub. Trust me, I’d rather be at the spa getting a facial, while lounging on a cushy bed, inhaling mint and lavender, but the smell of JD’s apple bubble bath works too. I also consider this a sassy way to multi-task because I’m washing his hair while there’s green goop plastered to my face. This means, I can conquer another task when he goes to sleep, since my facial is checked off my to-do list.

On to R&R—hey, we all need to chill out sometimes. For me, it’s hard to. A lot of people are surprised to learn that when JD attends school three days a week, I don’t get a pedicure or take a cat/disco nap—that I work in my office until I have to pick him up. So, to get in some much-needed DESERVED down-time, I really rely and look forward to reading to JD every, single night. We read about six books or more—some may think this is a lot or that JD is prolonging his bedtime, but I love cuddling on the couch in our pajamas and reading to him. It’s the one time during the crazy day when he doesn’t move, which means I don’t move either. Last night we read Animal Soup (so fun and bright!) two times in a row and I didn’t care. Bring it!

I get creative whenever I can. Yesterday afternoon I took JD out to the pool and we splashed and played in the water, but oh man, I really wanted to just lay out. (I'm human. I get tired.) I was admiring all of the young girls in their bikinis with iPod buds in their ears. It was like looking at Manolos through a storefront window, I swear. Well, I did lay out, sort of. I pushed two lounge chairs together and pulled out crayons, a coloring book and a variety of colorful engaging snacks (green grapes, pink watermelon, Rainbow Goldfish crackers and the best, a special bird-shaped straw and a yogurt drink.) This all entertained JD for approximately 17 minutes, but it was a long, luxurious 17 minutes. Then back to lifeguard duty because he wanted to go in the pool.

I know, I know! My tricks may seem silly and some of you may even be rolling your eyes, thinking, whoa, this chick is totally consumed with motherhood, but in all honesty, this works for me right now. I’m overwhelmed with potty training and maintaining enough work to keep my freelance career thriving (and the monthly bills paid), so for now this kind of “Me-Time” does me just fine.

OK, lovely moms, I’d love to read some of your “Me-Time” tricks that also involve your kiddos (I know you have 'em!). Do you paint your nails while your baby naps in the swing? Steal bits of a novel during a scribble session? Get your exercise on while pushing the stroller? Heavens, have a glass of wine while spoon-feeding pureed peas to your baby?