When I was pregnant, I asked a friend of mine who had a 1-year-old child what she believed was the biggest change from her life pre-kids to her present life immersed in motherhood.
She looked me squarely in the face and replied "I don't get any time to myself anymore. No one ever mentioned that and maybe I should have assumed it but....I get no time to myself."
Her brutally honest answer haunted me as I am a person who not only craves time to myself, but needs it in order to be a fully functioning human being. In the final months of my pregnancy I found myself trying to relish any "me" time that I had. Every time I browsed a bookstore solo, or the times I was Christmas shopping alone, I soaked-in the bliss of solitude. Whenever I binge-watched reality TV, spent an entire afternoon reading a great book, or had a date night with my husband I thought of my friend's words.
Then came baby. And I braced myself.
My friend was right in many ways. Finding 'me' time was laughable, especially in the beginning as the needs of a newborn kept me tethered closely to my house. But then I started to burn out. I knew I needed to recharge my batteries in order to be the best mom I could be, and I knew that that meant I needed some "me" time.
So sometimes I choose to put myself first. I voice my need for alone time to my husband, and as a result I get space to recharge. Whether that means a shower, a trip to the grocery store, or a quick nap, I have re-framed my "me" time from being extravagant amounts of time in the mall or bookstore to being small bits of precious moments most often at home. During these precious moments I make a conscious effort to clear my head instead of fretting about how the baby is doing without me. This took practice. But my mental health has thanked me over and over again.
Recently, supermodel and new mom Gisele Bundchen made waves in the media when she openly admitted that she puts herself first.
Giesle reports that by making self-care a priority she is a better mother in the long run. And the haters did they hate. Hate hate hate hate. You can read more about this here.
Truthfully, my initial thoughts were in line with some of the haters. I could put myself first 100% of the time too if I had a 'team' taking care of every aspect of my life and could bath in my hundred dollar bills at night.
Upon reflecting though, Gisele may have a point.
Today I was in need of alone time. My husband and I put our baby girl down for a nap, and I went to a bookstore for a designer coffee, some Christmas shopping, and bit of literary therapy. It was for a small amount of time, and it certainly does not happen often, but it was glorious. Taking the time for myself recharged me mentally and emotionally. For the rest of the day I felt more patient, more awake, and genuinely happier after taking an hour for myself.
I realize that this is a luxury, and perhaps this will change if we have more than one child. Maybe I will need to re-frame "me" time again if and when that happens. But I know that I need time to reboot, and I know that it's important for me to ask for this time when I need it.
Is this putting myself first? Maybe. Is it selfish? If taking a few minutes to clear my head and recharge my batteries is selfish and wrong, I don't want to be right.