Self-care in motherhood seems to be all the buzz these days. Of course as moms we tend to run ourselves ragged putting our family’s needs in front of our own. More often than not we’re the first ones out of bed on Saturday mornings, and the last ones to hit the sheets come Sunday night. We spend countless hours doing the thankless tasks no one seems to notice. But of course they get done because there we are, picking up the seven half-filled sippy cups from around the house and emptying the gag inducing contents into the sink. Wash, rinse, repeat…literally.
I’m a huge proponent of taking care of yourself both mentally and physically to not lose it in this craziness known as motherhood, but somewhere in the midst of raising newborn number two I realized I needed more. Sure getting up at 5 a.m. to work out has been great for my mental and physical health, but do I really consider that my “me/fun” time?! Is a solo trip to the grocery store or doctor’s office supposed to suffice my need for alone time?! No and no.
What I really wanted was a moment where I could mindlessly scroll my Instagram feed and enjoy the bitterness of a cold IPA with no children, or husband, nearby. I wanted the ability to enjoy a meal out without the anxiety that my child could lose it at any moment, forcing me to scarf down what’s on my plate or let it be as we dash out the door. Basically I wanted the fun and free feelings associated with going on a date, but alone.
That’s when I discovered the joy of self-dating.
Sure, I love date nights and girls’ nights just as much as the next person. But what I don’t love is all the planning and overly high expectations involved. I’ve found myself coming home from date nights with my husband feeling disappointed. Not because we didn’t enjoy each other’s company, but because the food wasn’t as good or the atmosphere was a drag, and it just didn’t seem to outweigh all the countless texts with babysitters and instructions and hair-curing and make-up applying it took to get us there.
Same goes for girls’ nights. I mean it’s not exactly easy to line up a 3 or 4 hour window with all your besties when they too have moldy sippy cups all over their homes. It often takes weeks, if not months, to nail down a date in the distant future when you can all get together and pretend you don’t have kids.
When I’m only trying to please myself, it suddenly becomes way easier. Wearing the same leggings and old ratty hoodie I’ve worn all week?! Looks good to me! The benefit of dating myself is I can do what I want on a whim’s notice if the moment strikes, no need to clear my own schedule. Kid’s are in bed early? Time to see that new movie I’ve been reading about! Running a few errands during nap time? Maybe I’ll sneak in a quick beer at the restaurant bar next to the shopping center. Husband can tell I need a break and encourages me to get out, think I’ll go work on my current knitting project at the local coffee shop, and listen to that podcast everyone keeps raving about.
A former version of myself would have never sat at the restaurant bar alone on a busy Saturday night, out of fear of looking like a loner. Now that’s something I strive for! Yes I’m alone and I love it! Sometimes I’ll even have a conversation with a complete stranger that doesn’t revolve around my kids. It’s almost like I gain a little bit of my former self back with each of these solo dates. Like I’m remembering who I was before I became a wife and a mom, and learning a little more about who I am becoming as I take time to just be me.
It’s fun, and I don’t have to worry about pleasing anyone else. Plus I’m buying, so yes I will have dessert.