One of the things that jumped that up and slapped me in the face when I became a parent was the fact that I was no longer ever in my house alone. For someone who is a self-proclaimed introvert and finds renewal in solitude (or at least in the freedom to come and go without a spreadsheet of arrangements and instructions) this felt overwhelming. Every time we’d get a sitter it was so that we could go out. Even on the rare occasion that we had childcare secured overnight it was for a trip. And I’d return from that wedding or conference more depleted than before I left.
The same principle applies to work, too. Do you remember the pre-kid days when you could work until eight without calling a soul then zip off to buy new mascara before heading home? Or wake up at 5am and decide to go on into the office because something brilliant was on your brain? It sounds so simple and yet is so un-freaking-believeably hard to do when you have a family.
Let’s face it. All moms are working moms. Whether you are working in the home, out of the home, from the moon or from the kitchen table you probably crave a bit of head space to catch up, square up and reconnect to, well… you.
That day will come when your parents, in-laws, sister or best friend will invite your kids to stay at their house for a few days. Or maybe they are old enough for sleep-away camp. And no matter how much you love your kids and how much anxiety it may produce to send them out of the nest for a few days, you need this.
If given this rare opportunity, don’t waste time. Start here:
- Get Your Eyebrows Waxed: Oh.Em.Ghee. Those things look like Himalayan caterpillars growing out of your face. You have rescheduled that appointment exactly five times and have resisted plucking because you are absolutely, positively sure that one day the Eyebrow Fairy is going to come in the middle of the night and craft and sculpt your arches to Charlize Theron perfection. This is not going to happen. Book (and keep) that appointment. Gracious, you’re gorgeous. This is like a $24 face lift.
- De-Funkdify Your Kid’s Room: Someone once told me that cleaning your house with children in it was like brushing your teeth while eating a package of Oreos. #Truth. Bring the trash bags (three standard kitchen size is requisite per year of negligence) and get busy. There is no telling what you will find. And the absolute beauty in this is they will not miss one thing. They will get home and dump that wicker basket of Legos with the Fixer Upper-esque chalk marker label on the floor and start creating your mess for next year.
- Exercise With Your Spouse: I do not care if you do not do this on a regular basis. Dig out those tenne-pumps, grab your honey and circle that block like you just met. Your neighbors might give you some Southern side-eye because they think you are leaving your precious angels home unsupervised, but persevere. You will not let anyone guilt you into sabatoging your time.
- Go to a Non-Kid-Friendly Restaurant at 10 p.m.: Order anything but chicken fingers. Steak and a martini? Cool. Salad with goat cheese and the Brussels sprouts appetizer? Yep. No one is there to tell you it stinks like socks. And the only person you have to take to the bathroom is you, so you might just finish the entire meal without having to get up from the table.
- Watch Your Husband Play Nine Holes at Dusk: Grab a pair of giant sunglasses, a Styrofoam cup, a bottle of good wine and pretend you are with him on Tour. Think about taking up golf in retirement. Or just enjoy riding around in the cart and listening to the sound of nothing. Is this what nothing sounds like??? No wonder he’s out here all the time…
- Work until 8 p.m. then go to Target: You don’t have to arrange this. I repeat. You do not have to arrange this. You can hammer away at that grant you’ve be been writing without worrying whether you or your husband will make it home before the sitter has to go to class. Then, you can zip over to your favorite superstore and look at the Faux-Lulemmon as long as as you wish and no one can tell you they are bored, tired or require more juice. Bonus points for buying something for yourself that is not on the cleaning product aisle.
- Join Your Work Colleagues for a Cocktail: You have not been on a work happy hour since exactly nine months before your last maternity leave. That was seven years ago. Just go. Invite yourself if you have to. Just make sure the Uber app is is still on your phone. Team building counts as work, right?
- Just Be: Sit in total silence. On your couch, your porch, in the bathroom with no one beating down the door- whatever. Enjoy not hearing the theme song from”Jessie” or “Bunked”. And after doing all of the things above and about ten minutes of sitting, you will realize your heart feels empty and you are even a little bored from the temporary relief of incessant snack preparation.
Being home alone is nice every once in a while, but the best part about all of this is that you will miss your kids like crazy and have the fullest heart when they get back. You might even be able to enjoy them even more with that clean house, tedious grant writing project off your plate and some seriously gorgeous eyebrows.
Kelly Barbrey loves her children more than life itself, but is grateful for GrammyCamp and CampGigi each year. 🙌