The other night was date night. My date was tired and stressed out and more than a tad grumpy. My date had no interest in having a conversation and actually opened a magazine at dinner. At one point, my date almost fell asleep! Sounds like the worst date night ever, right?
Wrong. This date night was perfect. You know why? Because my date was me. And as I read my magazine while sipping on a glass of wine and eating a roll of sushi in my favorite Japanese joint before using a Groupon for a discounted massage, I asked myself, “Why don’t I do this more often?”
Military spouses do it all. Well, we try anyway. Whether we’re forced to wear a million different hats out of necessity because our servicemembers are gone or we feel the need to wear all those hats because that’s all we know, we need to give ourselves a break. Every now and then we need to remove all those hats but one: the “Me” hat.
“Me” time is so much more than putting the kids to bed and crashing in front of a mindless television show. It’s about taking an occasional break to make yourself a priority. And taking a time out for yourself even has health benefits, such as reduced stress, renewed energy and improved sleep and concentration.
That means we as Mil Spouses (and moms and friends and all the other roles we play) owe it to ourselves to carve out that “me” time. Sometimes that means hiring a babysitter. Sometimes that means telling your husband it’s his turn to clean up after dinner. And sometimes that means letting go of the guilt and reminding yourself that “me” time will make you a better Mil Spouse (and mom and friend and every other role you play).
Don’t know how to embrace “me” time? Here are my top 10 ways to take time out for myself:
1. Fly with the greatest of ease. Several months ago, I noticed on Facebook that a friend was posting beautiful pictures of herself floating in the air with this huge smile on her face. When I asked her what she was doing, she told me all about the trapeze classes she takes. I couldn’t wait to sign up! I have to admit I was terrified once I got up on the platform and forced myself to jump off of it. But after I got over that initial fear, I was hooked. (And now I have a Facebook picture of myself floating in the air with a huge smile.)
2. Go to the commissary solo. Grocery shopping with two kids who fight like they’re competing for the heavyweight boxing title: pure torture. Grocery shopping by yourself and having the freedom to actually pay attention to what items end up in the trunk of your car: a little slice of heaven.
3. Hold a dance party for one. I’m not the world’s greatest dancer, but I love music. And sometimes, when no one is around, I crank up my “Sweat Therapy” playlist and let loose. Dancing pumps up my heart rate up, gets those feel-good endorphins going and clears my head. Lady Gaga makes everything better.
4. Retreat to your realistic happy place. My happy place is digging my toes in the sand on a deserted beach, listening to the waves and sipping a fruity cocktail. But that’s not exactly doable in the day-to-day. So I often head to my realistic happy place. In this house, it’s in my bed, curled up on 3 pillows with the covers pulled up and a book in hand in complete silence. In another house, my happy place was the kitchen table. In another house, my happy place was on my back porch, swinging on my patio glider. Find your doable happy place. Go there often.
5. Put on makeup and pretend you have somewhere to go. I work from home. And there are days that I realize I never bothered to get dressed. I don’t like glancing in the mirror at 3:00 in the afternoon and looking like I just rolled out of bed. So now I’m trying to put on makeup every day and wear something other than my favorite cozy outfit. Not only do I feel better about myself when I glance in the mirror and see myself put together, but pretending I have somewhere to go other than my home office actually makes me more productive.
6. Run in circles. I’m a runner. If I go too long without hitting the pavement, I get antsy, I don’t sleep well and I feel like I’m missing therapy sessions. But there are days when I just don’t have time for mileage. That’s when I go in my backyard with my dog and run in circles. Literally. After a few minutes of that, we’re both panting from chasing each other, but happier than we were when we started.
7. Switch up your routine. I’m a planner. I like schedules. I thrive on routine. However, every now and then it’s nice to mix things up. A few weeks ago, I decided to pack up my laptop and work at Starbucks for a few hours. It was such a nice change that I almost felt guilty because it didn’t feel like I was working.
8. Go to a movie alone. This is something I never thought I’d enjoy doing. It seems so lonely to go to the movies alone, doesn’t it? It’s not as bad as you might imagine. And just think, you can see a movie that isn’t animated and isn’t of the bang bang shoot ‘em up variety. Go see that chick flick your husband doesn’t want to see. Eat the biggest tub of popcorn with extra butter. Cry your eyes out at the gooey romantic parts. (Okay, I know this isn't for everyone. So grab a girlfriend and go. That still counts as "me" time.)
9. Hit the spa. This is an obvious one, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to get forceful with friends to get past their feelings of guilt and book an appointment. I’m not big a mani-pedi type of gal, but give me a 60-minute massage, and I go home a new woman.
10. Let Groupon decide. Groupon is a website that offers “deal-of-the-day” discounts on everything from restaurants to zumba classes to liposuction. Sign up for free and receive emails for featured discounts. I don’t think I’ve ever paid full price for a massage thanks to Groupon. So see what kind of deals are offered and try something you’ve never done before! (Ooh, I might try a hot air balloon ride next!)
How do you make “me” time?