I’ve only been a mom four and a half months. My experience is very limited obviously. Each day brings the possibility of a new lesson. To say I’m still learning would be an understatement. So it may or may not be surprising that it’s taken me a little while to figure out how important it is to take time for myself away from my baby. And realizing that doesn’t make me selfish has taken a bit longer. While admittedly I am still figuring things out as a parent (and will be for the next 18 years I’m guessing), I feel like taking a break and doing something for me actually makes me a better mother. For one thing, I am a more patient caregiver and appreciative of the time I have with my daughter. I mean, how could I not be?
Getting time away, though necessary can be hard-very hard, for many reasons. For me, just choosing to leave my little one, even for a short time, was hard. What if she was fussy and cried the whole time? What if she needed to eat? I spent a lot of time making it about me and how important I am to her happiness, to her existence even. That is true to an extent. But my husband can soothe her. Or feed her a bottle. A bit of time without me is probably good for her too. I want my child to be secure with and without me by her side.
So we started slowly. I walked our dog. Alone. Twenty minutes. Then I met one of my sisters for lunch nearby. An hour. A few weeks later when Bebe was almost three months, my in-laws kept her while my husband and I went out together. Two hours. She was fine. Even without me, my baby was her sweet, content, pleasant self. So this past weekend, after nearly five months of motherhood, I went out for the evening with a friend. I planned a much needed girls’ night and had dinner without my husband or my baby for the first time since her birth. For five consecutive hours I didn’t nurse, pump, change, rock, play with, soothe, or sing to my girl. It was weird. It was nerve-wracking, though only briefly. It was difficult leaving, but not being out. And it was wonderful. I missed her, but I also had fun and got to remember a part of myself that I don’t see everyday anymore. Plus, I enjoyed a delicious meal at a fantastic restaurant (highly recommend L’Artusi anyone dining in Manhattan), drank incredible wine, and indulged in a to-die-for dessert.
At the end of the night I was tired and ready to get home to my family, but I had the best time. It made me realize the benefits of a night out and the importance of occasionally putting myself first. I arrived home way past my bedtime feeling grateful, rejuvenated,
a little tipsy calm, and more in love than ever.
Do you take enough time for yourself? What advice do you have to help moms put themselves first from time to time?