The other day, my pre-teen daughter asked if she could take a bath in my large, perfect-for-bubble-baths bathtub. Considering the fact that I most certainly wasn’t going to be using it, I said, yes. When I went into my bathroom a bit later, I realized that a) she is no more likely to pick up her towel or dirty socks off the floor in a bathroom that is not her own (I am sorry to all of the parents who have had her over for sleepovers) and b) this kid knows how to take a bath.
On the edge of the bathtub I found a face mask, a tub of bath bombs, and several recently lit candles. But among her bathtime remnants, the true crowning glory was the layer of glitter that lined the bottom and sides of the bathtub. After spending a few minutes trying to figure out how, exactly, glitter came into the equation, I sought out said pre-teen and found her relaxing in her room, wrapped in plush a bathrobe, painting her nails.
“Hey princess, how was your bath?” I asked (all irony completely lost on her, of course). “Oh, it was good,” she languidly replied. “I just needed a little me time…you know?”
And, yes. Yes, I do know. I know all about me time. It’s a thing I used to have before I had to pick up other people’s dirty towels and scrub glitter out of my bathtub so I don’t look like I’m on my way to a rave next time I go to the grocery store.
Me time is an important part of life. We need those precious moments when we disconnect from the outside world to settle our consciousness, rest our minds, and restore our sense of self. Introverts might need a bit more, extroverts a bit less, but we all need it just the same. And there was a time when finding me time was as easy as saying “no” to a few social engagements, turning off the phone, or simply settling into an appropriate me time activity.
That was, of course, before we had kids whose idea of “respecting personal space” meant standing next to you while you tried to use the bathroom, instead of sitting on your lap.
From the moment you have a child, me time takes on a whole new meaning. No longer a time period or set of events that you plan and execute with military precision, me time becomes a handful of frantically snatched moments that you grab as, and when, you can.
And once you have kids, me time has a very different look and feel. For example:
Went to the spa for a manicure and pedicure. Paid extra for aromatherapy.
Quickly paint over the chipped polish on your toes, because flip-flops are your primary shoe choice. Lock the bathroom door so no one can smell the nail polish and ask you to paint their nails, too.
Spent a Saturday afternoon casually shopping. Actually tried outfits on before purchasing them.
Fold three loads of laundry in front of the TV after the kids go to bed and use it as an excuse to watch the final episode of Game of Thrones…from last year.
Read entire novels in less than a week. Set aside even more books for vacation.
Put everyone in front of the TV for 15 minutes to actually read/sign the 4,897 school notices and permission slips that came home in backpacks. Some events may have already passed.
Went to gym faithfully. Always attended Tuesday night yoga class.
Chase a toddler down in the mall food court. Give yourself points for cardio and weights after carrying her back to the stroller containing 97% of your worldly possessions. Also give yourself points for pushing said stroller.
Stayed current on all popular series. Binge-watched other series at your leisure.
Watch an entire episode of Paw Patrol while the kids are napping without even realizing that Paw Patrol is on.
Woke up and enjoyed a quiet cup of coffee before getting ready for work.
Woke up at 5am in the hopes that you could quietly sneak downstairs and have a cup of coffee before the breakfast stampede. Forgot that your three-year old has bat-like sonar hearing. Nevermind.
Staying up late
Stayed up until midnight to finish aforementioned novel/TV series/whatever you wanted.
Stayed up until midnight, possibly folding aforementioned laundry/watching Paw Patrol, but for the love of all that is holy, it’s the only time the house is quiet.
So, yeah. Me time may not look like it used to before you had kids. Your moments of alone time are probably limited to the brief snippets of time that you spend cleaning the house because that’s the only time, miraculously, everyone else is “busy.” But truthfully, me time (while important) doesn’t even begin to compare to the gorgeously chaotic moments that are now “us time.”
Kids grow up. They leave the house to start their own families and discover that bubble baths aren’t as readily available as they once were. So savor the noise and frenetic energy that exists today, because you’ll have me time again one day…and chances are, you’ll miss “us time” more than you thought possible.