-I feel like no one has time for me, including myself.
-“me time” is actually spelled “bullshit”
ok, let me get this out ahead of time.. for many of us, the phrase “make sure you get ME TIME” sends a surge of anger through every fiber of our bodies. Now, obviously I can’t speak for all or even most SN parents, BUT, speaking for myself and the few SN friends/parents I do have.. “Me time” simply DOESN’T EXIST, ever. There is not a spare minute to get away, much less an entire day or weekend. We don’t have the support system that many parents do of an endless drove of grandparent’s, aunts/uncles, cousins, friends, or hell even nanny’s/babysitters that are lined up to “help” with our little human. We are LUCKY that my MIL keeps her overnight every so often. I can guarantee you that those few times she does, “me time” is the absolute LAST thing on my mind. that time is used for sleep, drinking, uninterrupted sex, more drinking, and more sleep. Sometimes more or less of all of the above depending on man human’s work schedule & the mood we are both in.
What I am saying is.. for some of us.. the reality of “me time” such as manicures, reading a whole book, meditation, quiet time, or just watching a tv/movie that ISN’T kid related is non existent. Hell, I’m lucky to get a shower alone every other day & to not have the words to a Moana or Frozen song stuck in my head! Most of my emotional life is spent in survival mode. What can I do today that will let me get through this hour, this morning, this afternoon, and this evening. What can I do to help little human today, to make her life better and happier today than it was yesterday & go through the monotony that is this season of our life without totally losing my shit. It has taken me literally all day (and into the evening) to write this post because little human is running around from 1 tv to the other and closing my computer with each pass, or she wants her 4th peanut butter & jelly of the day, or she wants my soda or coffee (yes, I currently have both sitting in front of me) or it’s time to work on her alphabet or number or shapes. Are there days when I let her have too much “screen time?” most definitely, probably more days than I would like to admit. Are there days when we will only spend 10 minutes outside because it’s as hot as Satan’s armpit, yes. Are there days when I literally change BOTH TV’s from mickey mouse to bubble guppies back to mickey mouse to Moana back to mickey mouse then to the wiggles back to mickey mouse back to Moana then to Toy Story back to mickey mouse back to bubble guppies to Frozen back to Mickey Mouse (are you noticing a pattern here) AT LEAST 50 times in one day.. yep. Just like there are times we go out and play in the sandbox for 5 minutes just to come inside to take a bath and go right back out for another 5 minutes and come BACK in and take ANOTHER bath.. and then it’s usually back to Mickey for a bit, then some learning/school (if I’m lucky) – then back outside for another 5 minutes then another bath etc. ALL DAY LONG. There are days when she demands to go play with “B” and we drive across town to our friends house to stay a total of 10 minutes before she’s “all done” and ready to go home. My “me time” is the 15 minutes of jamming to Pink or Rent or The Greatest Showman soundtrack in my car on the way to and from said friend’s house. The point is.. for some of us, the reality of “me time” for an extended period of time (5 minutes or more) just doesn’t seem attainable, but.. as I have found out (the hard way) that if we can switch our thinking just a smidge, that those 5-10 minutes of “me time” are able to actually happen. sometimes. but hey.. that’s better than nothing & never, so I’ll take it!
If you’ve made it this far into the post, I applaud you, and thank you for reading. I also extend a virtual hug to you because that most likely means that 1. you either know me or 2. that you are in this stage of life too & want/need to know that you aren’t alone. I am here to tell you most certainly that YOU ARE NOT! AND..although they may look and be different than other “me time” postings or ideas below I have listed some “tips” and tricks for my version of “me time” during the day/evening as I can fit them in. Most days, at least 1 of these is feasible, even if it’s just for 5 minutes. These are things I have found (most often very randomly) that work for me and for little human throughout the last 5 almost 6 years to keep us both sane. Now that therapy (ST, OT, PT, & ABA) are in the picture again (after over a YEAR of no services may I add.. but that’s for another post) I have included that “alone time” as well. Not all of these may work for you and your family and/or you may have to tailor them differently.. go for it honey.. a virtual grabbing of hands as I’ve said before can be the best thing for a tired soul.
Reality based “Me Time” Tips/Tricks
- SAFETY FIRST, THEN ALONE TIME: “child proof” your area/kid’s bedroom/playroom etc. and go to the bathroom ALONE. Close the door & breathe, scream, play on your phone, or simply enjoy the quietness.
- our “child proofing” is more intense than most as we are living in a “studio” style garage apartment & little human doesn’t have her own room. So for me, this includes but ISN’T limited to: moving EVERYTHING that is even close to her reach up on a higher shelf, shutting and locking every door that she can possibly open or get into (closet, outside door, inside door to the rest of the “other part of the house” we share with my mom), putting all of my electronic items out of her reach, making sure all the clothes are put away and not in a basket or on the couch, removing all drinks/food from any area she can get to (such as my current coffee & soda) and last but not least, putting on mickey or whatever show/movie she is demanding.. (currently it’s Mickey, even though Mickey is ALREADY on the back tv.) This may seem like a lot, but let me tell you, on REALLY tough days, it is worth the trouble for those 5 QUIET minutes.
- TAKE A DRIVE: go ANYWHERE, just to get out of the house. I have a “loop” that I drive from my house around our town and back. It takes about 30 minutes & has been a lifesaver on more than 1 (or 10) occasions. I’ve also been known to make the loop 2 or 3 times if little human happens to fall asleep in her car seat (which almost NEVER happens, but one can always hope)
- Even with little human’s special needs, she has always loved being in her car seat (thank God) so there is a little bit of “silver lining” in that. I know many a “normal” parent’s nightmare is having their kid in a car seat for any length of time (welcome to our 24/7 life people)
- GO “PARKING”: Find somewhere with some shade, park your car, and chill for a minute (or 5 – 10)
- this goes along with “take a drive” above. It’s mostly about getting you and your LO out of the house, even for a few minutes. go on a scouting trip one day & find a good spot. It doesn’t have to be the same every time.. I’ve hid out at the far end of the McDonald’s parking lot with shade tree’s!! Toss your kid a toy/snack and relax until they’re “all done”
- BATH TIME!!: take 5 minutes to shampoo/wash/rinse your kiddo, fill the bathtub & throw in a few toys.. take a breath & sit.
- Let them splash and play, swim like a dolphin or whale.. you can always dry up the floor later with used towels. A little (or a lot in our case) of water on the floor is SO worth the 10 or so minutes of down time you can get in this case. I’ve actually gotten to read 2 chapters in a book during this time. **always stay in the actual bathroom with your child if they aren’t able to keep themselves above water or can’t care for themselves without supervision**
- EXTENDED TV OR TABLET TIME: Put on your child’s favorite program (or movie if you’re lucky enough to have a less active kid than our little human) on the tv or tablet & let them get comfy on the couch.. Then snuggle in beside them & turn on YOUR show/movie! If they’re on the tablet, turn on the tv and switch it if it’s the opposite. You’d be surprised how much an episode of Grey’s or Downton Abbey or Call the Midwife can do de-stress you. (yes, I promote all 3 of the above!) If your child can tolerate headphones/ear plugs EVEN BETTER!
- This one may be controversial to some, but for me, it has given some sense of sanity on the occasion that I simply CAN’T listen to another round of the hot dog dance, do the propeller, let it go, or you’re welcome..
- DANCE IT OUT: Speaking of Grey’s.. Find or make a song list with your “dance” favorites (YOUR’S.. NOT YOUR CHILD’S) – this means NO wiggles, mother goose club, little baby bum etc.) turn it up & dance it out!!
- Jump up and down, fist pump, twirl, do the sprinkler & lawnmower, running man, & moonwalk.. dance the heck out of it.. let your little one (or big one..) dance around with you. Grab hands and twirl or pick them up and dance and laugh with them (careful not to spin too much, or you’ll end up with puke.. talking from experience!) Endorphins are your best friend & nothing brings out endorphins like a good dance session.
- HEADPHONES & MUSIC: Put them in, turn up the volume, and drown out the world..
- During a meltdown or those times when you need to “check out” for a few minutes while still being able to keep an eye on your kiddo, put on those headphones or ear buds, turn up the volume and JAM!! -Adele and Pink are great for these moments
- USE YOUR THERAPY TIME WISELY: once your child has gone back with their therapist, LEAVE THE BUILDING. go to your car or just go sit outside, weather permitting.
- Sometimes therapy offices are incredibly loud and it can be overwhelming and aggravating. yes, I said it. I have a SN child, but therapy waiting rooms SUCK because there are kids running around EVERYWHERE & for me, it’s a lot to deal with. I have my own little human in my lap and in my face all day long, I don’t want yours in my lap too or getting dirty looks because your kid trips over my feet as they’re running circles through the room. So.. GET OUT. take these few precious minutes of silence and quiet time to relax without your child while you know they are being taken care of (and having a great time themselves) ** always let the receptionist/front desk know where you will be just in case there is an emergency.**
- SLEEP: go to bed when your child does. Everything else can wait.
- Some days seem to drag on like summer in Texas and it’s all we can do to get through the day. Many of us wait until bedtime for our supposed “me time” but what we are really doing is binge watching that tv show, folding long forgotten laundry, doing the day’s dishes, etc. let me tell you.. some days.. IT CAN WAIT. The show will still be on Netflix, the laundry will be there tomorrow, and the dishes won’t grow legs and walk away (unfortunately) – We parent’s miss out on SO MUCH SLEEP that it is a wonder that we can function. So, take a cue from your kiddo & curl up in bed at 730 when they do (you know you’re gonna be woken up at midnight anyway..) so the extra few hours REALLY do make a difference.
- IT’S 5’OCLOCK SOMEWHERE: this one is best used sparingly.. but every once in awhile, a glass of wine at 9 am or a shot of Bailey’s in your coffee can help to chill you out and make your day run much smoother.
- My former SIL introduced me to “Rum Chata creamer Coffee” last Christmas & my life has NEVER been the same!
So there you have it lovelies.. some venting & some (hopefully) helpful tips and advice that have worked for me now and in the past. Is there anything you do to help get through those rough days? Any tips/advice for those of us out there searching for coping strategies and help.. send em’ on sister (or brother!) – we can use all the help we can get.