Otherwise known as "The Bathtub Epiphany".
Yup. It deserves capitals.
Let's set the scene. I'm now a sleep deprived mom of young kids who hasn't used the toilet or taken a shower alone in years. My decorating style is early fisher price, and my clothing is chosen based on what will best withstand the various bodily fluids deposited on it by runny noses and leaky diapers. In other words, I'm a tired, sloppy, often cranky, hot mess.
One night, after Justin and I have gotten the kids down for bed, rather than collapse on the couch and stare at a screen until I muster up the energy to make my way to bed, I decide I'm going to do something radical. Something I haven't done in ... well ... a really, really long time. I'm going to soak in the tub.
I shut myself in the bathroom, almost giddy with the thought of a gloriously long, blissfully solo soak in some steaming hot water, and turn to the tub.
Oh, right...we have 25,496,385 bath toys...
Five minutes later, I have found the tub, covered the sink and counter with various animals, letters, and containers, and have the water running. I throw some baby bedtime bath bubbles in there - hey, you use what you've got - and settle into nirvana.
In the busyness of raising young kids, I had forgotten how much I loved soaking in the tub. The enveloping warmth, the weightlessness, the softness of the water, and the scented steam all combine to create utter physical relaxation and allow my mind to wander free. It feels something like this:
I lay there for probably an hour, slowly relaxing and thoughts drifting from chores that needed to be done to mentally writing sarcastic articles about motherhood to pure appreciation for the time alone to just be. When I got out of that tub, I was relaxed, peaceful, and happy. I had both the physical and mental energy to have a fun, relaxing evening with my husband for the first time in months, and I was calmer and more patient with the kids the next day.
And that's when it hit me. The Bathtub Epiphany (are you ready for it?).
Here it is:
I'm a better mom, better wife, better person if I take some time for me.
It seems pretty obvious with today's awareness of self care, but back then it was a revelation. I loved spending time with my kids. I loved teaching them, playing with them, snuggling them, giving them new experiences...but I had lost me in the process. I made the decision then and there to try to carve out one hour a week to soak...to indulge in a sensory experience that relaxed and refreshed me, and restored my reserves of energy and patience for the week.
And she did, and her husband and children sing odes to her, and the woodland creatures flock to her calm, joyful presence, and she has changed the world for the better.
...wait, this isn't a made for tv movie....
Ok, real life happens. I didn't get my soak every every week. But I did make time for it more often. It didn't make me a perfect wife and mother, or suddenly grant me the ability to be superwoman and save the world while maintaining a perfect home. But it did restore my energy and equilibrium, and better equip me to manage the day to day life in the trenches with young children and still be able to enjoy time with my husband.
My kids are older now, and daily life is significantly different than it was back then. But I still need that weekly time. And I still have to be intentional about carving it out. So do you. There is always something to do - young kids, teen kids, elderly parents, sick spouses, work projects, volunteer opportunities - the list of really important things that can fill our calendar is endless. But do yourself a favor, and put an hour a week on that calendar for yourself.
Do you take the time to recharge? What restores you? Let me know in the comments below! (oh - and you can find the first post in the series here.)