In past, I did not even think about taking time just for me. My rational was that as my son's only parent, I had to be there 100 percent and then some. Like many other solo parents, I never wanted him to feel that his life was any lesser because he only had Mom instead of Mom and Dad. So I rarely took time for myself to do things I'd enjoyed before becoming a parent, like taking a yoga class; meeting a friend for a coffee; going thrift shopping; or just wiling away the afternoon with a good book.
Instead, I focused on my son because I felt so guilty for having to spend many hours a day away from him while I worked to support us. When he was asleep, I would work more on all kinds of side projects I took on for extra income. While this freelancing fed my creative side, it consumed many evening and morning hours that should have been free time. I didn't do much, if anything, simply for myself. When I wasn't working my full-time job, I was spending time with my son or working the side jobs and while it was great and I felt good about my choices, it was a busy, busy life without much time for self care.
Fast forward to now...I have learned so much. As my son grows older and desires more independence, I still make sure I am always there for him, but I've come into a stage of parenting where he often chooses to do things separately from me. As it's his choice, I've no reason to feel guilty that I'm not spending time with him when he asks to go stay with my parents for a night or spend the afternoon at a friend's house. Instead I am proud he feels confident to be away from home a couple of hours or days and that he is spending time with other people who love and care for him.
And I make the most of this new occasional time on my own by indulging in a bit of self care! It's so important. I've learned that because I AM the only parent, I've got to make sure I take proper care of myself so that I feel good, have energy and my mood is positive. Burning the midnight oil might have fed my wallet but it began to drain my spirit, and for that reason, I now carefully balance my freelancing with my regular work and time with my son, but I also make sure to allow plenty of time for self care and special things just to honor me, and also time with friends.
This past week, I had to return to work and my son opted to stay with my parents instead of go to school with me as he's done in the past. I took the evening on my own for a great back-to-work relaxation time...massage, dinner out, and dessert by sunset! My friend Grace had a gift certificate for two at the Happy Feet Spa, Beauty and Personal Care and I was the lucky person she invited to go along with her!
An hour of pampering, which included foot massage; head, neck and shoulder massage; even a side of green tea! What more could a busy mom want when it comes to being pampered?
After our spa time, we visited the adjacent Fusion Japanese and Thai restaurant for some edamame, brown rice and sushi. It made for a light, healthy meal and was delicious!
Having Fusion right beside Happy Feet was a stroke of marketing genius... a healthy meal after some good spa time is perfect!
A few months ago, Grace had given me a small stash of yarn she was not going to use and I'd knit her up some socks from one of the skeins as a gift in return for the yarn, which is kind of a custom among knitters! She was delighted with them! **
As the evening seemed to have developed an Asian theme, after dinner we headed over to the Asian Market for some Green Tea Ice Cream, which I had never had before! We took it to the patio area of our local Starbucks and enjoyed a splendid late summer sunset while chatting and finishing the ice cream (and yes, with chopsticks!)
This is the kind of evening that, a few years ago, I might not have allowed myself to enjoy. The old me would have taken any time that my son wasn't with me and used it for freelance work, telling myself this was most important and valuable way I could spend it. My priorities have definitely changed! Now, if I have an evening or afternoon to myself, I may spend it with friend or friends; stay home and watch grown-up television and knit; go to yoga class; take a long walk in the woods on my own; go thrift shopping; or do any number of things that bring me joy.
Self-care can look many different ways to many different people, but it is an important part of life, not just for solo parents like me but for all parents and people! It is so easy to get caught up in DOING that we can forget the importance of BEING. My evening out with a friend was a great way to gear up for the coming work year and also simply enjoy being in the moment, trying new things, and a little bit of pampering!
Find a way to give yourself a little care this week!
**You can find the pattern for Grace's socks, which are so fun and easy to make, free on Ravelry.com! Just look for me under zenmamaknits and take a peek at my projects, you'll see them there!