Mama Baby Bliss conducted a survey recently on how much time mums get for themselves. The elusive Me Time that is much discussed in ante- and post-natal classes, toddler mornings and round the school gate was found to be fairly rare with 93.6% of mums wishing they had more time to pamper themselves.
I remember when I was pregnant with R, reading books and magazines that all emphasised the need for Me Time. My attitude then was wonder at how any mum could be so selfish as to want time away from their children. I couldn’t understand at all how anyone would choose a long bath over a cuddle with their baby, or a massage over a game of hide-and-seek with their toddler. Of course, then I still had plenty of Me Time; more than I’d had before, because I was cutting back on my working hours and C was doing extra housework. I could lie in the bath reading my pregnancy magazines and have leisurely lunches with my sister.
Little did I know what was to come. I still recall my first bath after coming home from hospital, where I had been stuck for a week waiting for SCBU to release R. I lay there, soaking my stitches, reading a book and sipping the hot tea that C had brought me. I stayed there for a whole hour without any interruptions. C was sitting downstairs with R, who wasn’t crying or needing to be fed. What luxury. And it really, really was, because that was the last uninterrupted bath I had for a long, long time.
After that, they were always interrupted by a hungry baby, or a clingy baby, or a tired baby. A baby who would not settle without her mum. Sometimes she would be undressed and handed to me, so I could feed her in the bath (a rather weird experience, as I recall); sometimes I had to get out and feed her back to sleep, still dripping water, then jump back in to rinse the conditioner off my hair; sometimes I had to just get out and give up on the bath altogether.
Over the last nine months or so, I have been able to have more soaks in the bath, especially since R started going to bed at a reasonable time. And over the next seven months, I will make sure I have at least one a week, if not two. Because come October, they will again be a scarce commodity in this house.
As will Me Time of other sorts, I’m sure. But the trick, I have found, is to change your ideas of Me Time:
- Work hours are Me Time now. I quite often manage to watch some DVDs or listen to music while I work, so that it can feel relaxing. And, for the most part, I enjoy my work and it allows me to be creative and have a few hours when I can be someone other than Mummy.
- Ironing is Me Time now. I can watch TV and not feel guilty about it (seems to be a theme, here!).
- When R was a baby, breast-feeding was Me Time. I read books or watched TV (again with the TV!).
- Going round to a friend’s house for coffee is and was Me Time. I still have to supervise or had to breastfeed, bounce, tickle… but I get my gossip and chat in.
- Pushing a buggy round the park or the shops was Me Time, especially if R was asleep. Lots of time to think and dream.
- And… I’m just remembering why I didn’t get the broken dishwasher repaired or replaced for a whole year. Washing up was Me Time. I put a CD on loud and danced around the kitchen, losing myself in the music and my dreams and memories. (Though probably won't be breaking this one any time soon!)
But if someone wants to pay for me to go and get my hair done, or have a massage or a leg wax, I wouldn’t say no.
And for Mother’s Day? All I want is someone else to get R up and get her dressed and give her breakfast, while I lie in bed reading a book and drinking a cup of tea.