Thank God Charlene has never been here

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When I speak to parenting groups, definitely the question asked most often is how parents can make Me Time.

There’s no cure-all, but to start, recognize that finding Me Time is a process you’ll improve and adjust daily. If you accept that, you’re done with the tearful “But what happened to me?” Instead, you can say, “I did X for myself today, and I’ll do X and more for myself tomorrow.”

Next, redefine Me Time to include Pampering Myself.

If you’re really time-strapped, start by having Me Time while multitasking. I’m completely aware nutritionists advocate only dining while sitting. Realistically, if you have many small kids, you’re so busy fetching this or that, you have no chance to sit.

Sooo, your Me Time consists of the exceedingly healthful banana you hork down with one hand while pouring milk with the other. Voila! You’re Pampering Yourself by sampling the raw-food diet, which Madonna has used.

You get bonus points for seeing the positives: I say, “Thank goodness I’m so busy. I don’t have time to overeat.”

Fruits and veggies are the ultimate convenience food because prep (washing) takes seconds and you can snarf them while multitasking. After you’ve eaten enough fruits and vegetables, you might have less trouble waking before your kids for Me Time.

Yet another way to take care of yourself is to scatter Me Moments throughout your day. Buy fun mints, moisturizer, and lip gloss. Then, instead of cursing the stoplight at 30 and Burr, use your little luxuries for Me Time.

Look for otherwise icky time periods to conduct Me Time. If you’re sans kids and waiting at the doctor’s office, bring something fun to do with you, say, your favorite book or knitting.

Evaluate how you really spend your days, beginning to end. After my kids went to bed, I would lie awake about an hour before convincing myself to sleep.

Then I realized I could use those sixty minutes for a killer workout. So I arose an hour early to exercise, and eventually I experienced the proverbial Falling Asleep Before My Head Hit the Pillow.

I have a theory, admittedly unsubstantiated by research, that when you’re really tired, eventually you must sleep. Awakening early for that exercise gives you Me Time, leads to more energy later, and makes you muscle-tired at night.

Maybe my ideas will work for you; maybe they won’t. But they’re a start. Write the banana on your to-do list for tomorrow. If that doesn’t work, put the stoplight spa on your to-do for Tuesday.

Keep a notepad with you so you can jot Me Ideas while you wait at stoplights. But always, always keep trying.

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About Rebecca Bailey

* Columnist, The Times of Northwest Indiana, for three years. * Professor for twelve years. * Mom of four teeny kids. * Voted "Most Dramatic," Castle Junior High School eighth grade, 1984. * Failed to diaper her first child before he projectile-pooped on the curtains. * Accidentally splattered her white Jack Russell Terrier with her red hair dye, which did not come out.

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