When you’re a kid, treats are everywhere. You get a lollipop for visiting the doctor’s office, a buck for losing a tooth, a gold star for using the potty. But when you’re a mama, ain’t nobody handing out prizes for taking a poop. It’s time to give yourself permission to incorporate small pleasures into everyday life.
Studies have shown that frequent small pleasures make people happier than infrequent, larger ones. So go ahead and take a slow, sensual bite of that individually wrapped square of chocolate. Or any of these suggestions:
1. Get naked and wet
Many moms say that they barely have time for a quick shower each day. This is crazy. You may have kids, but you still need to be clean. Take bathing to another level by putting away the kids’ bath toys and adding some bubbles or salts to the tub. Now, light a candle and pour yourself a glass of wine. This just might become your new nightly ritual.
2. Make a date with a sexy man
Binge watching a favorite TV show is a preferred pastime for many people. But when your show features a handsome actor, you’ll enjoy your couch time even more. It doesn’t matter if it’s Lord Grantham who strikes your fancy or Hank Moody who gets you in the mood. Just make sure you don’t get too addicted, or we’ll have to limit your screen time.
I know, I know. After a long day of work and taking care of kids, you feel totally exhausted and not the least bit sexy. But just like with exercise, when it comes to sex, starting is the hardest part. Once you begin, chances are you’ll remember why you once liked doing it.
4. Pay for a quickie
Most nail salons offer 10-minute chair massages at about one-tenth the price of a spa massage. It’s an indulgence you can justify on the regular. Who needs a fancy spa with wind chimes and cucumber water? Another bonus: no internal debate about whether or not to take your undies off (don’t).
Turn off the TV, open a bottle of wine and display the food nicely on that weird glass fish platter someone gave you for your wedding.
5. Get coffee with a kid-free friend
And by coffee we mean wine. Or a cocktail. Or let’s be real, just order bourbon on the rocks and remember what it was like to have a conversation that takes you back to a time before you gave such serious thought to raisins.
6. Enter wine country
Instead of reading or watching TV the next time you’re at the gym, take a virtual ride through Provence on the stationary bike or jog your way through the nature trails of New Zealand. This is the closest many of us will get to taking an overseas vaycay for a long time, so don’t dismiss it until you try it.
“Go the eff to sleep” applies to parents, too. Sure, there’s always one more thing to do before turning in, so give yourself a bedtime and stick to it. That extra half-hour of rest can make all the difference in how you feel the next day.
8. Set the table
If you can’t have dinner out, you can still enjoy the intimacy of dining with your partner by making your Tuesday night turkey burgers a bigger deal. Turn off the TV, open a bottle of wine and display the food nicely on that weird glass fish platter someone gave you for your wedding. Your meal will feel like a treat when you take time to savor it.
I’ll never forget how good it felt to murder, I mean dispose of, a toy called the Catch Me Kitty. But don’t just target the kids’ toys when decluttering. Your own closet is a good place to start purging things — you’ll feel real pleasure when you get to exist in a neater, cleaner space.
10. Do a manicure
Sure it’s nice to go get your nails done. But an at-home paint job has its advantages. Besides the money you’ll save, remember: when your nails are wet, you can’t pick up a screaming child.