Is it weird that I find an eyebrow wax deeply relaxing?
I used to pay $25 minimum for a “brow design” back in Seattle. Here I go to the corner salon and pay $8. Sure, it’s not Burke Williams, but the place is clean, there’s soothing music playing, there’s a waterfall, and the chairs are super comfy. Plus, the technician never tries to chat me up - always a bonus for me.
I was a very settled-in 32 when I had Little Miss. I enjoyed a lucrative career and relatively simple life. I had plenty of time (and money) to spend on myself. I got monthly facials, the occasional massage and a bi-weekly wax. We were DINKs back then (double-income-no-kids) and it never occurred to us that those dollars would have been useful five years later when we’d find ourselves facing a car repair, broken air conditioner and $285 for preschool all in the same week. Regardless, I’m the type of person who needs to be alone with her thoughts now and then… like every day… for a long time… And, like most moms, I find that my daily reality is simply not conducive to “me time.”
These days the $100 super-relaxing monthly facial just isn’t an option. An $8 wax is about all I can swing (with a $2 tip, of course - I’m not that girl). So I make it my mission to enjoy every second, from the quiet ride over to the wait in the cushy lobby chairs to the event itself, which, despite the inherent discomfort, involves closed eyes, focused attention on me and only me, and 10 or so minutes of blissful quiet.
I’m a firm believer that being a stay-at-home mom is crazy-making if you don’t take the appropriate steps to keep yourself sane. These steps include a) making time to think, meditate or otherwise relax occasionally; b) finding things to do with your children that you both enjoy; c) establishing clear boundaries so as not to become an indentured servant; and d) taking reasonable care of yourself (i.e., not “letting yourself go”).
That “me time,” albeit incredibly difficult to come up with, is also INCREDIBLY important. Don’t get me wrong - I know moms that take it to a ridiculous level. I’m not suggesting you ship your child off to playcare after school twice a week so you can get your nails done and have coffee with your girlfriends. I’m simply suggesting that you find a few minutes, every now and then, to reflect, regroup, and remind yourself that you matter.
“But we don’t have the budget for that,” you protest. I get it. I feel you. Making time for yourself needn’t involve an expensive trip to the spa. Be creative! There are plenty of ways to “get away from it all” without literally getting away. And you don’t need a babysitter - just a few minutes before bed or on a weekend when the hubby’s around to kid-wrangle. Here are just a few suggestions to get you started:
1. Got a laptop or MP3 player and decent set of headphones? Try white noise and a darkened room to create a sense of aloneness. Simply Noise is free and awesome.
2. Guided meditation is another fantastic way to take a break from your mommy stress. There are loads of free podcasts and low-cost downloads available on iTunes.
3. Take a bath in the dark. I know it’s cliché, but it absolutely works! Light candles if you want, but, honestly, it’s the quiet that matters. Banish your husband, lock the door, play music if you need to drown out the household chaos… just float, enjoy the warmth and the darkness, and let your thoughts drift.
4. Got some time but no funds? Try calling a local massage school. Many schools offer free or low-cost massage sessions to allow their students to perfect their skills before entering the professional world. Don’t worry - student practitioners will have spend many, many hours working on each other before being allowed to work on you.
5. Head to the library. If you’re a reader, the library can be an intensely relaxing place. Where else is quiet a RULE? The library is a great place to read, to draw, or to write in your journal - whatever helps to relax and refresh you.
As a side note, taking time for yourself only works if you don’t feel guilty about doing it. Do whatever you need to do to make sure that you’re able to enjoy your time alone without feeling like you’re neglecting your family. Which, of course, you aren't... but you know what I mean.