Take Time For Yourself

Take time for yourself.

I actually really don’t like this phrase.  It’s not that I don’t appreciate the sentiment, but it’s that most of the people who say this to me have no idea what my schedule is like or what “me time” is, or should be, composed of.

My “time for yourself” isn’t getting a “mani/pedi” (I hate cutesy abbreviations).  While I admit I love having people take care of my hands and feet, it seems like a waste of money when I can care for my own, and it takes me away from my house during valuable kids-are-awake hours.  Look, I’m away from my kids 50 hours a week at work… if I were to go to a salon on a weeknight evening, I’d miss dinner with them, and on the weekend, I’d miss playtime.

My “time for yourself” isn’t going out with girlfriends on a Friday night.  Friday night is when we cook chicken fingers in the oven, then tuck the big girls into our bed to watch Dora videos and watch movies, and drink wine and eat popcorn.  And while, unfortunately, it is the night my girlfriends invite me to do things, my husband and I designated it our night, and it’s untouchable.  Friday night is for family.  And truthfully, while I’d like to see more of my girlfriends, hitting a restaurant or bar on date night isn’t really that appealing.  I wear heels all week.  Friday night is for pajamas.

Not me, folks.  (And no clue when Miranda ever saw her kid.)

My “time for yourself” isn’t getting a massage.  Why do people always suggest that?  It’s expensive!

My “time for yourself” isn’t going to the gym.  That would involve packing a bag, taking makeup and clothes and a hairdryer and whatever I need for work.  Working moms who are able to gym it at lunch baffle me.  Not to be a martyr, but I work through lunch.  I’m a lawyer, and if I want to leave at a reasonable hour (unlike most lawyers), I need my whole day.  Plus, gym= more money.  I invested in a treadmill last fall and have been giving up an hour of sleep every morning to get on it.  Yes, I have to get up at 445 am to do this.

My “time for yourself” isn’t a leisurely cup of coffee in the morning, reading the newspaper.  (I’m overrun by toddlers then).  My “time for yourself” isn’t a romantic weekend away with my husband.  (Maybe someday, but right now, the kids are little and it’s hard to babysit three toddlers).  My “time for yourself” isn’t reading a good book or doing yoga or taking a walk with my dog on a Sunday afternoon.

I really would like to know what people are visualizing when they tell me to take time for myself.  Because… contrary to what this may portray… I DO.

Time for myself happens when I spend more than eight hours a day at work, where I’m intellectually stimulated, surrounded by interesting people, doing something that fascinates me and challenges me just enough, and leaves me with a sense of accomplishment when I head out every day.  Toddlers don’t hang on me there.  People bug me for things, but they don’t whine.  And I have a lovely office.

Photo credit to the Virginian-Pilot.  And, um, that’s actually me working, when I sort of accidentally showed up on the front page of the paper.  I work in a somewhat controversial field of law.

Time for myself happens on my (inconveniently long and tunnel-filled) commute, when I listen to podcasts and sip good coffee, and browse my Blackberry when I’m sitting in standstill traffic (most days).

Time for myself happens after 830 pm, when my kids are in bed!  Kids sleep a lot, dude!  I do some work at home (again, lawyers work a lot of hours), I watch Netflix, I blog, I talk to friends on LiveJournal and Facebook and Twitter.

Time for myself happens WHEN I’m talking to those friends online.  This is how I am able to have friends.  I’m not sure what I’d be doing now if Facebook hadn’t come about, truthfully- sad, but there you have it.  And it’s really not sad, since I chat, I share my goals and triumphs, I hear about what people are doing, I reconnect with high school and college friends, and people I’ve never met, or people I’ve met but hardly knew in person.  It’s a social life.  If you’re out a lot, maybe a bit of a lame one, but it makes me so happy.  Online… I’m POPULAR like I never was in high school!

Time for myself happens when I get home and my girls jump on me.  While they wear me out and it’s not REALLY pure “me time”, it does make me smile, especially when I’ve first walked in the door and they’re so happy to see me that they’re angels.

Time for myself happens when I can indulge my inner child by buying big child-size Princess Tiana socks that fit me, justifying that they’re just “because Christina wants me to have some like hers”.  (Yeah, I’m admitting that right here.  They’re for ME.  And I’m bitter one got lost, but I got new Tinkerbell socks, so it’s okay.)

Time for myself happens after dark, when  my husband and I are alone, and we get to chat, and laugh, and watch Netflix, and play computer games, and we have fun just like we did a zillion years ago when we met and were “just friends” for three years before we dated.

Time for myself happens at 445 am, when I run on the treadmill; when I paint my toenails and my girls’; Friday nights when we all eat chicken fingers together.

I somehow don’t think the time I spend on myself is what people are expecting when they tell me “busy moms need time for themselves!”  I really don’t.  Especially because the actual busy moms I know are usually too busy to say silly things like that.  Sure, I’d like indulgences, nights out, and way more sleep (and I’m not faulting you if you get any of these things!  God knows, I went and bought a treadmill!), but we do without a lot of it for our kids and everything else we’re responsible for, and you know what?

We’re usually pretty darn happy.

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