Sit back and relax with your Monday morning cuppa while the two Sarahs of Salt & Nectar let us in on their secrets of how to carve out precious “me” time during the busy hustle and bustle of motherhood. Enjoy!
When chatting with The Outlaw Mom about her transition from working full time to life as a stay-at-home mom, we thought it would be fun to offer “sage” advice on how to carve out “me” time when one lives, works, eats, sleeps, and plays in the boundary-less world of one’s home where the days have no beginning and no end. Although our words of wisdom are probably anything but wise and profound, we’re pretty certain they reflect the reality that we all struggle with when trying to maintain a sense of our former selves while also being our new selves and mothers. With that in mind, my partner in crime at Salt & Nectar and I sat down and got to talking about how we actually make it to yoga, go out with girlfriends, or make it to date night.
The Other Sarah (TOS): Hello, darling! After much ado, we’re finally able to sit down and have our chat about making time for ourselves. I guess it’s hard to make time for oneself, right?
Sarah Stewart Holland (SSH): Amen. Although I have no room to complain today, my amazing aunt volunteered to clean my house and watch my kids today! Reason #49028 why I love living near family. That’s something I’ve learned. Making time for yourself is not a solo endeavor. The key is reaching out for help.
TOS: So true, but so difficult when one is a single parent or temporary single parent as was the case for me. I think I’m still recovering from the lack of “me” time when my husband was away working each week for 14 months. But thankfully it’s a new day and he’s bending over backwards to make sure I have the ability to do things for myself, which I really appreciate.
SSH: I really can’t even imagine. Even if Nicholas were away, I would still have my parents. I know a million different people have said it a million different ways but I am a better mom when I have my own time.
TOS: It was tough, especially because we were new to LA and I didn’t have an established network either. But things are so much improved. And I completely agree that you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others.
SSH: We are so lucky to live with technology that can make that possible – even if you can’t “get away.” I was just talking with an older friend whose children are grown. She was saying how isolating it was to be a stay-at-home mom when she was doing it. Now, even if I can’t get out of the house, I can take some me time during naptime to plug into my online mommy community and vent/laugh/relate. Dear Internet, I love you.
TOS: I know, what would we do without the Internet!?!…
…So, we initially came up with the idea of interviewing each other about how we make time in our wacky WAHM schedules, when you said that you and Nicholas had a fight about making time for yourself. What was that fight about?
SSH: I had lined up my stepdad Ron to watch Amos while Nicholas took Griffin to swim class and I went to yoga. Nicholas was upset because he needed help getting Griffin ready and I was on my way out the door. I had just started going back to yoga and it was so important to me to keep going and not miss one. The word selfish was used, but I just had to stand my ground. This summer I’ve spent a lot more time in just solo mommy mode and I needed a break.
TOS: Were you surprised by that reaction since Nicholas is usually so much of an equal parent/partner?
SSH: Definitely. But hey, having two kids is stressful and he gets way less “me” time then I do. In fact, we’re currently working on getting him some alone time, too. Just because he gets out of the house doesn’t mean he doesn’t need a break to explore his interests, too.
TOS: Very true.
SSH: How do you and your husband strike that balance?
TOS: Striking a balance is always a work in progress. Now that my husband works primarily from home, we initially hit some road bumps until we figured out a system that works for both of us. When he got his new job and didn’t have to travel anymore, we nevertheless maintained the status quo where he would work during the day and enjoy time off at night, and I would be “off” during the day watching the Little Dude and then working into the wee hours of the night. Then one day, I woke up and said the arrangement was no longer fair or healthy. He agreed. So, as long as he doesn’t have inflexible client meetings and the like, he usually works in the morning and takes the Little Dude after naptime, and I then work once our son goes down for a nap. Then, we both have free evenings to enjoy (on most nights anyway)…
…We’ve also reached out to family more. While we don’t have family that lives in Los Angeles, my husband’s mom lives about an hour away. So, we’ll arrange to have her come down for a day or two at a time and babysit. During her visits, we work, do independent things, or even go out on afternoon movie dates (although the latter has only happened once).
SSH: I wish Nicholas worked from home. That would be so amazing.
TOS: It’s a double-edged sword. It’s actually a lot harder to maintain boundaries and remain efficient.
SSH: I can imagine. Something else I struggle with when it comes to the whole “me” time debate is feeling pulled in both directions. Sometimes the most convenient time to take time for myself is the same moment Nicholas and the boys are doing something fun or just hanging out. And I want to spend time with them too.
TOS: I totally commiserate about wanting to hang with the fam and wanting to have me time. Often my husband takes the Little Dude somewhere fun to give me a break but then I feel like I miss out on the family bonding. Like I said, striking a balance is always a work in progress.
SSH: Definitely. But I think me time can be whatever replenishes you.
TOS: Even though you occasionally joke about living in a small town, do you think your return to Paducah has made it possible to have more “me” time than living in DC? You do have the greatest thing on earth called Mommy’s Day Out.
SSH: In the infamous words of Mr. Big—abso-f@#ing-lutely! Mommy’s Day Out is cheap, cheap, cheap daycare from 9am-2p, on Tuesday/Thursday which has allowed me to teach part time and write and run errands and do all manner of other things. Plus, like I mentioned before, I have a long list of family members willing to help out. Days like today—when I went to yoga, met with an inspiring local writer, and spent the rest of my afternoon writing in the local coffee shop simply would NOT be possible if I had stayed in DC.
TOS: How has baby number 2 changed making time for you?
SSH: Well, it’s tough starting back at zero as far as breastfeeding and how long I can be away. I hate pumping with the burning passion of a thousand suns. But I do it for that all-important me time. Plus, I have less down time generally because there is only that small nap window with Griffin and there’s no guarantee that Amos will go down at the same time, although I’ve been very lucky and they usually sleep at the same time.
TOS: Well, we’ve established that family is the key to carving out time for oneself easier. Do you have any other last minute tricks for other busy moms out there?
SSH: I would say just do what you can. Some days me time is just a hot shower. Other days it’s an entire afternoon out. Be flexible and kind to yourself. The last thing you want is for “me time” to become another chore or stressor….
…What about you?
TOS: I second what you said. And I also have found that making a standing commitment with friends is helpful — it’s a weekly motivator, my husband has agreed to the timing so there are no surprises, it seems to always be the perfect little recharge at the end of the week, and it’s obligatory me time.
SSH: I totally agree. I have a standing coffee date with one of my favorite people in the world. Never ceases to lift my spirits….
…So, sadly, my me time for today is coming to an end.
TOS: I think that’s a wrap. Thanks for spending your “me” time with, well, me.
The Outlaw Mom thanks the Sarahs of Salt and Nectar for taking the time out of their busy schedules to guest blog today. Sarah and Sarah first met as staff members of their law school’s only feminist legal publication, otherwise known as the “Gender Journal.” After stints working in Big Law and on Capitol Hill, the Sarahs said goodbye to DC and hello to CA & KY to swap lifestyles and start families. Now, their imperfect but sweet lives as moms makes for good blog fodder at Salt & Nectar.