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After my first child was born, I swear it took me a good six months before I felt like a woman again. I was immersed in this new mommyhood bubble that I could not pull myself out of. I barely wanted to leave the house, talk to my girlfriends, put on makeup or do my hair—yet, oddly enough, it was super easy to check Instagram and Twitter while breastfeeding, LOL! All I wanted was to stay in my cocoon (I am naturally a homebody, anyway) with this new bundle of joy. Of course, sleep deprivation, being someone else's sole source of nutrition and the paranoia of having a new baby out during California's epic whooping cough season definitely added to my desire to hibernate.
Needless to say, at around six months, I began to need that "me" time that every mom eventually craves. Yet it surprisingly came with such a mixture of emotions. Being away from my daughters for work is acceptable, right? I still had a career I wanted to maintain so it was OK in my mind to step away for auditions, meetings, castings, etc. But when it came to a simple manicure, lunch with a friend, a new cooking class or just a moment away to engage in innocent but juicy gossip with my bestie, I felt like I shouldn't. I felt like I didn't have that luxury anymore. I felt like all my time away from work should be spent with my girls. And honestly, in hindsight, I didn't realize that it was burning me out. It took my bestie to sort of do an intervention. She gave me a long speech on finding my groove again and getting back to being a woman, as well as a mother. After having my second little one last year, I vowed to not fall back into the same mommyhood bubble. So naturally, one of my New Year's resolutions for 2016 is to continue to find that mommy "me" time.
My sister-in-law and her husband enjoy taking trips together about 3 times a year without their kiddos. I remember talking to her before one of these trips and asking her if it was hard to leave the kids behind (this was before I had children myself)—didn't she miss them? She replied, "These trips make me a much better mommy." At the time I thought, Dang, that's kind of harsh, but after I had my girls, I called her and told her I finally understood what she meant.
Being away from your kids can be difficult for any mommy, whether it be for work or play. We adore them, we want to see every new move they make, we never want to miss a thing! But just like it's acceptable to step away for work, it is also just as important to step away for yourself. I found that a simple moment here or there gives me little boosts to reconnect with myself. Although finding the actual time to get away can be kind of difficult.
Here are a few tips to get some of that mommy "me" time we all deserve:
15-Minute Breather:My mom is a single mother to three kids and worked full-time. Growing up, she was the superwoman I hope to be. But every day, when she walked through the door, she would give us all kisses, then head to her bedroom and shut the door. She would take 15 minutes by herself. As a little girl, I would sit impatiently outside her door and wait. When I was older, I asked why she took that time and she said, "I needed 15 minutes to myself to switch from work-mode to mommy-mode and just breathe." So somewhere throughout the day, I try to take 15 minutes by myself to simply breathe.
Hire a Friend:Hiring a babysitter or getting your spouse to watch the little ones is an obvious choice but what about hiring a friend who is self employed, like a writer, actress or artist whose schedule isn't as set in stone? They can come over and facilitate nap time while you step out to get that mani-pedi you have been dreaming about.
Organize a Mommy Babysitting Exchange:To be honest, I haven't tried this yet but I know of friends who have and are totally obsessed. Once a month, a different mommy is on mommy duty and sits for all the kids. It frees up the rest of the mommies for a night out.
Enlist the Grandparents:Once again, another obvious but solid option. If you have parents that are very active or unavailable often, then set up a "grandparents day" with them: a predetermined time of the month when they can enjoy the grandkids for a couple of hours during the day or even better, a sleepover, while you go and get your mommy "me" time on.
What are your favorite mommy "me" time moments? Feel free to share in the comments below and follow along with me on my mom life journey.
Images via Elizabeth Mathis
This post is produced in collaboration with Mom.me and CoverGirl. As always all thoughts expressed in this post are entirely my own.