Self Care: Reclaiming My Me-Time in 2021

I miss my me-time. I bet a lot of you out there miss yours, too.

I started a remote job in late August. And even though I chose to be remote so I could easily pick my kids up from school/daycare and get things done around the house during the day, I miss going into the office.

It’s not the in-person camaraderie I miss because I’ve formed close friendships with people over technologies such as Zoom, Slack, and Microsoft Teams. No, what I miss is those nine or more hours a day when I wasn’t focused on being somebody’s
mom.

Of course I love being a mother, and I love, love, love my children, but when I was working in an office and commuting every day, even though I had my kids’ pictures and artwork hanging up at my desk, I was focused on work and on being Pam.

I had time alone with my own thoughts. 

Now at my desk in my home office, I’m always aware of my role as “Mom.” There’s always errant toys on the floor, meals waiting to be cooked, laundry needing to be done just outside the door. I need to find more time to just be me.

My friend and working mom mentor, Pamela Martin, told me that moms have got to reclaim our time. I love it! Martin is a former executive and owner of her own coaching practice, The Balanced Way, so she knows what she’s talking about.

She told me a long time ago that she knows moms often come in last, and it’s not fair. “It’s impossible to fill others’ cups when yours is empty,” she said. “You need to learn to put your needs at the top too.” 

It’s so true. I did an informal crowdsource of Facebook friends recently and asked other moms how they were finding “me-time” during the pandemic. Most of them aren’t. Too many said trips to the grocery store were their self care. This. Is. Not. Enough.

I’m resolving to reclaim my me-time in 2021. Here are some ideas so you can also reclaim your time.

Make time for daily exercise  

I’ve been doing a combo walk/run for 30 minutes most mornings since the spring. It’s not enough, but it does help me clear my head and gives me a little time alone with my own thoughts. I have to get up early — before anyone else in my family is awake, but it’s worth it. 

Some of my other mom friends do yoga or YouTube workouts, and I do too when it’s just too cold/rainy for me to leave the house.

Alternate dinner responsibilities

I don’t mind cooking, but the stress of figuring out what’s for dinner every night shouldn’t just be on me. My husband is working from home right now, too, and he’s perfectly capable of microwaving nuggets, baking a frozen pizza, or ordering takeout. He actually likes making more complicated stuff, but it’s tough during the week. He was fine with this deal. What I need to start doing in 2021 is stepping away while he’s doing meal prep for some solo time.

Make self-care appointments (manicure, pedicure, haircut, massage, therapy, etc.)

Some of my mom friends say they have allotted time just for them. Maybe it’s once a week, maybe twice a month, maybe even just once a month, but it gives them alone time and something to look forward to. And Martin said self care doesn’t have to cost money. “It can be a long reflective walk, a 15-minute breathing exercise, a warm bath, hiring a babysitter so you can have a day off. Ultimately self-care is learning to love yourself as much as you love others.” I’m all for that. 

Stay in a hotel or bed and breakfast by yourself

Two other working moms I admire — one former boss and one current one — told me they have solo weekends. No partners, no kids. They read books, get dinner, sleep alone… How boss is that? I feel like my children (and maybe my husband) might be a little too young and needy for this right now, but it’s my dream. One day, I’m doing it!

Take a solo car trips and listen to a podcast

Lots of moms told me they get their time in by taking the long way home from the store, browsing longer at Target, or just leaving to get a cup of coffee and driving around. If you’ve got a favorite podcast, listen to a whole episode before you go back home — even if you have to hire a babysitter.

Let go of the mom guilt

Lots of moms — including myself — said they are letting go of screen time guilt to get in a little me-time. One mom friend said she sits outside by their outdoor heater and drinks coffee and reads a book alone while the kids are watching TV. Another said she drives around listening to a podcast or talking to a friend while the kids are watching something in the back. If you have a partner, you can just designate them to be in charge while the kids have some screen time, and you can go read (I check out library books on my phone), listen to a podcast, catch up with a friend, or whatever you want. 

Find what works for you

Maybe it’s outdoor yard work no one else wants to do. Maybe it’s a weekly video call with friends where you check in and discuss a topic or show (I had a great standing call during “Insecure Season 4”). Maybe you take turns with your partner sleeping in on the weekend days. Just find something you can do alone that brings you joy and makes you feel like yourself — not just a mom — because you need it, and Mama, you deserve it.

Pamela Spencer de la Fuente
Pamela de la Fuente is a proud native of Flint, Michigan. She moved to Kansas City in 2003 to work at The Kansas City Star. Since then, she’s bought two houses, gotten married, worked at some other KC companies, and had a couple of kids. She is a La Leche League leader (Ask her about breastfeeding!), a mom of two toddlers, and a professional writer and editor. Pamela loves big and small adventures with her family, sampling craft beer with her husband, David, and eating ice cream all year round.

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