Let me tell you how I ended up having my first solo date since becoming a mom. It was completely unplanned—but it ended up being the best alone time I’ve had in a long time.

A few weeks ago, I had plans to meet up with someone for a brunch date. It was scheduled for a morning that my husband didn’t have to work, so he stayed home with our son. I woke up bright and early to get myself ready for this much-needed time away.

I got cute and felt good as I walked out the door—excited to hang out with a friend and indulge in some adult conversation. But to my disappointment, due to some unforeseen circumstances, my friend told me she wasn’t able to make it—after I had already arrived at the restaurant. And that’s how I ended up having my first solo date since becoming a mom.

Related: You need a break… before you break, mama

It wasn’t at all what I was planning for—but it was everything I didn’t know I needed. 

Initially, I was going to get back in my car and just head home, figuring that there was no reason for me to be out any more. But there was a reason—me. 

I needed to become intentional about making time for myself.

Something told me to continue about my day as if I had planned this entire date for myself. So I did—and it turned out to be the best thing.

I didn’t realize how much I had lacked alone time until then. I didn’t realize that this was what I had been asking for whenever I mentioned I needed a break. I didn’t realize that time with myself didn’t need to be anything extravagant to make me feel good. I didn’t realize how much a mere few hours away from my family would recenter my mind and emotions. And I didn’t realize how much I truly needed that time with myself until then.

Related: Do moms really only get 30 minutes of ‘me time’ per day?

No offense to my friend, but I’m so thankful that she didn’t show up that day. Because I was finally able to realize that I needed to date myself again. As a wife and as a mother, I rarely have any time for myself. Most of my time is occupied by working, tending to my 15-month-old (which if you know, it’s the busy stage!), spending quality time with my husband and doing so many other things to maintain our home and my familial and social relationships.

For years—and especially since becoming a mom—the way that I cared for myself was by making sure I spent quality time with my spouse, friends and loved ones. I would focus on intentionally scheduling date days for my husband and I. I’d focus on setting up brunch dates with friends. Family dinners with relatives. Play dates with my kid and other mamas with little ones. 

Related: I need a break from my kid—and that doesn’t make me a bad mom

But I never intentionally scheduled any time for myself. I never for once thought about waking up and getting excited to spend the day with just me—picking out a cute outfit, dancing to music as I got ready and simply just enjoying my own company for once in a while.

And so I needed to become intentional about making time for myself again. It was easier when my husband and I were just dating. It was easier before we had a kid. But just because it’s become a little harder to schedule that “me time” now, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it.

It is.

Because self care for moms is important and moms need time alone. But how often do we actually schedule that into our plans? With everything that already overwhelms our to-do lists and the mom guilt that lingers whenever we think about even one second away from our kids, it almost feels impossible to have any time to ourselves. 

And then that lack of alone time often turns into burnout, resentment and loneliness. It often leaves us feeling overly consumed by motherhood. 

Related: Errands and showers are not self-care for moms

But I had to realize that even though my family means the world to me, I am still more than just a wife and a mother. There’s still this woman that exists deep within me—underneath cooking family dinner and scheduling doctor appointments and doing the laundry. There’s still a woman that exists beyond being a wife and a mom, and I’m the only one who can find her.

I’m the only one who can learn how to tend to her so that she isn’t feeling depleted often. So in dating myself, I’m not throwing my family to the curb (well, maybe I am for a few hours😅), but I’m making myself a priority, too.

Because I matter. And I don’t have to lose myself. That unplanned solo date reminded me of my love for aimlessly wandering and finding random things that catch my interest. I stumbled into a new plant shop that day, and you betcha I purchased a few plants for my home.

Related: After kids, vacations become trips—so take a solo mom vacation

So whether it be a solo date day or a full-out solo trip for a few days, choose you, mama. And make it count. Because we need to remain intentional about ourselves so that we have balance. We need to prioritize ourselves just as much as we prioritize everyone else in our lives. Because moms need time alone, too.

So I’m leaving the mom guilt at home—and I’m encouraging you to do the same. Take yourself on a date. Go grab a coffee, sit at your favorite restaurant, take a walk or even tell your spouse to take the kids out while you stay home and do whatever you please. Just be intentional about you, mama. You deserve it. 

I surely know that I do.

Because even though I love my child and husband dearly, I’ve been consumed by motherhood and marriage for so long. It’s time to get to know me again.