The name of this blog is "My Ten Mommy Minutes". I came up with this name in 2010 when I started this, my very first blog. The idea was that if I could carve out just 10 minutes everyday for myself to write and share my Mom Journey, that whomever was reading it could to. ME TIME, ALONE TIME was at the heart of this blog when I started it.
I had enrolled my then 18 month old son in daycare in the fall of 2010. I had come across a crunchy, organic daycare in Sedona, run by a woman who acted like a child herself, in the comfort of her own home. Not only was this a small, private, out-of-the-way sort of set up, but Carrick's best friend (yes, he had a best friend at 18 months) also attended this daycare. The only reason I enrolled Carrick in the first place was because my own best friend was returning to work, and needed a place to park her first born (Carrick's bestie). Carrick was only attending 2 half days a week when he first started out. As a breast-feeing, co-sleeping, attatchment-style parent, I was nervous and reluctant to give my baby to someone else. But I did it, knowing that at least he was with his little buddy. On the days that his friend was there, I would pick them both up and watch them both after lunch, thus helping my friend reduce her daycare costs.
My time alone without my son was minimal, spanning 8:30-11:30 twice per week. However, in those few precious hours alone in my home, I was able to sit quietly, gather my thoughts and write. Stressed as I was as a new mom (yes, 18 months deep into child-rearing is still new when it's your first), spending time alone meant the world to me. It was my renewal time, my time for myself, my time to fill my own cup. My husband wasn't around complaining that toys were not put away. My son was not around needing a diaper change, or acting like a tordano in general. His time at daycare was my small bit of sanity in an otherwise demanding, yet satisfying life.
I say satisfying because as I look back, this was perhaps the most bouyant I felt in the past decade. We recently have gone through some major family upheaval, and most of it was due to the fact that I felt so incredibly depleted; I simply could not continue down the path we were walking as a family. I needed most of how we were living to change.
I will not elaborate too much (we are still working many of the kinks out, and we are far from "settled"), however, we have made major changes to our life structure. For me, the most significant change has been that my feeling of depletion has stared to...deplete itself.
As I look back at our time in 2010, this was the happiest, most fulfilled our entire family felt, since becoming a family of 2+. I don't know if there has been a time since when each of us simultaneously felt cared for, happy, and fulfilled, as if our cups were running over with life energy. Even our son has had his ups and downs, and he's only 8! When Carrick was young, attending daycare, Corey was working at a place that payed enough to support the family, with a little extra to spare, and I was the house/mom/wife, we all had our own space and our own time alone.
Carrick didn't really have "alone time", he was 1 1/2 and still needed adult care. But what he did have was time away from mom and time specifically set aside to spend with his best friend. Corey had a job where he would be alone for some periods of time, but most importantly, he had his favorite refuge at hand...a bathtub. The dude loves to escape to a bath full of steaming hot water. (He is a Cancer, after all, so it's no surprise this crab enjoys warm water.) I had my "Me Time" while Carrick was at daycare. Granted, I could have used more of it, but that's what our single-income budget would allow for, and was grateful for that.
As time pressed on, the need for us to change daycare providers became apparent. I ended up securing my first job after having a baby in April of 2011. Carrick was now 2, and my days of chasing after the tornado were too much...mama needed to get out! My job as hostess became an added bonus to my alone time. Carrick was at school for drop-in half days, four days a week. I could take him to daycare, go to work, pick him up, and as long as his day was less than 6 hours, I was only paying for half days. It was a perfect setup, aside from the fact that my alone time was now at work, and all of his daycare hours were used while I was working. I had to find another way to get alone time.
So, I enrolled in bellydance classes right around the corner from my house! My best friend would watch Carrick for me, watching her son and mine giggle and play together. Sometimes I hired a babysitter, when she was unavailable, and I would walk to class and groove for an hour. This definitely filled my cup, and my alone time was mine again!
Meanwhile Corey continued to work, but his hours slowly mounted. Towards the end of 2011, our family's balance of alone time started to shift. I found it harder and harder to get someone to watch my son. As he grew older, his ability to wear people out grew with him. My friend needed to work more, so her time also became more precious. When she moved in 2012, my struggles to continue to have a babysitter during bellydance grew each week. I was also pregnant with baby # 2. After her birth in 2013, my alone time all but vanished.
Ever since then, we as a family have struggled to find that sweet spot again of alone time for all. Whether the kids are in each other's spaces, or I have to go grocery shopping alone to get my alone time, most of our efforts to carve out just a teeny-tiny bit of alone time have been thwarted. With little support, and even less of an "overflowing cup", my abilities to even begin to chisel away at what our family needed were non-existent.
After a very rough holiday season, we, as a family, decided to make some major life changes, and are still working on them. We are not sure where this path will lead us, but for the time being, I am seizing the opportunity of change to once again fill my own cup first. I look back and see how angry I have been at my kids and my husband as a result of feeling depleted. I see now the cost on my family of ignoring my own needs for so long.
It ends today. It ends now.
So what can I do? How can I change and restructure my day, my life, so that my children are not recipients of a frazzeld mother? What shift can I make so that my husband I can connect without resentment or anger? I can take time for me again. I can clear my mind and MAKE time. I can try things that have not worked in the past, but might work now after making some changes. I can try new things that I was too scared to try before. I can get a job. I can get up even earlier to make sure I have time to write, like I did this morning (on this blog).
While our abilities to make time for ourselves varies as much as our fingerprints do, there is one thing we as moms (and dads) can all do. We can set aside those Ten Mommy Minutes and start there. Give ourselves that small window of time to just breathe, to think, to love ourselves, to fill our cups. When our cup is empty, our lives feel empty too. But when we take the time to fill it up, everyone gets to drink from the gift of YOU that you have to offer.