Menu

Hey sleep-deprived mama, you need to take yourself on a date

I am their mother—totally, wholly and entirely. It is my proudest role. But that is not all I am. 

Hey sleep-deprived mama, you need to take yourself on a date

If you’re a sleep-deprived mama that stays up late for no reason, I get you.


No, really. I get you.

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that at one point, someone has said to you: Okay, you’re sleep deprived—it’s essentially all you ever talk about, so why are you still up now that the kids are in bed?

My very logical, rational husband doesn’t understand why, despite the fact that I haven’t slept for longer than a two-hour stretch over the past couple of months, I still stay up well past the kids’ bedtime. You say you want ‘me-time’—but isn’t sleep the ultimate ‘me-time’? ‘ He asked me once.

Before I had kids, the concept of ‘me-time’ was pretty stock standard.

I’d take the full hour lunch break at work and walk through the shops with no agenda whatsoever. On the weekend, I’d set off to the gym on my own for an hour and then stop by my favorite cafe and grab a cappuccino. Sometimes I’d get more than one bout of ‘me-time’ in one day. It was great.

Me and myself had the perfect amount of quality time together.

Now, as a stay-at-home-mother of two kids under 3, most mornings start with me being pulled from my bed either figuratively, by the sound of my 6-month-old wanting to nurse, or literally, by my 2.5-year-old yanking on one of my limbs asking for her daily smoothie and Paw Patrol. (Disclaimer: if I’m really lucky she wakes up at 5:30 a.m. and her father is the recipient of this wake-up call instead.) After getting out of bed, I begin the diaper-changing-breakfast-providing factory line as quickly as possible so that I can inject some caffeine into my bloodstream.

Enter one of the top-5 things I didn’t quite understand before I had kids...being a stay-at-home-mom means that almost everything I do in the course of a day, will be interrupted.

I’m going to be totally honest with you—recently I’ve felt myself becoming resentful towards the fact that I am always, always, being interrupted.

I never get a minute to myself.

Never.

I can’t finish a single task from start to finish. And on the rare occurrence that I do, it’s usually when they’re napping—and I can’t really bask in the success of that because the whole process was saturated with the anxiety and panic of wondering whether I just heard someone wake up.

Hungry? Don’t bother making that sandwich. That’s why the cliché of mothers eating their kids’ leftovers was born.

Need to pee? Sure. Go right ahead, knowing that you will be followed, so you will either have an audience or the phrase “are you finished?” chanted repeatedly through the door loudly.

Just had a moment of inspiration for something you want to do? A project you might want to start, perhaps? BAM. Stop. Interruption. I need a snack. I need crackers. I want to go to the playground. I’m sitting on my baby sister. I’m hungry again. Feed me. My gums hurt. Hold me. That sound scared me. Hold me. I just rolled over and now I’m stuck. Pick me up. Feed me. Hold me. Play with me. Sing to me. Dance with me. Just sit there and watch me. Deal with my diaper. Now deal with her diaper. Oops, my diaper again, please. Feed me. I need you. I’m tired. I need to sleep. I’m bored. Let’s play. Feed me. Hold me.

Wait, what was my thought again?

I’ve recently created a list on my smartphone titled “Things I Want To Do.”

Do not confuse this with a simple to-do list.

It’s not just things I need to do. It’s made up of the haphazard half-thoughts that run through my mind while I’m tending to the kids. The thoughts I don’t quite get to finish. The moments of inspiration to start something, do something, think about something. I’ve started noting them down. It’s made up of the little errands that crop up. Things I know I’ll probably forget. It’s made up of emails I need to send. Text messages I need to respond to. New recipes I want to try. Amazing world-altering ideas I have.

It’s sort of like a poor man’s Pinterest board, I suppose.

When I surveyed this list the other day, I thought to myself, ‘When will I ever get around to doing all, or any, of these things?’

Resentment. I felt that resentment again. And I didn’t like that feeling.

I did understand though—this is why I stay up late.

The few hours between the kids going to bed, and the first middle-of-the-night waking, are the only hours in a day where I might possibly not be interrupted. Even a need as basic as sleep is interrupted, from when my head hits the pillow until it’s time for the day to officially start.

So I sit there, splayed on the couch at 8 p.m., wanting to do everything—everything—on that list, but literally feeling like I can’t move my body and will it to do anything at all. I’m just. So. Tired.

So a couple of days ago, I told my husband I needed something.

I need a regular date—with myself.

While I’m home with our children, I need to be interrupted, but then be able to graciously accept that interruption and not feel like I have to cast away everything that I want to the side.

I need to think of something I want to do, just for myself, be interrupted, be okay with being interrupted because I know that I’ll have my time to get back to that thing, whatever it was.

So I asked for a weekly 3-hour me-time date. To do whatever I want, wherever I want, however I want.

Maybe I want three hours to bake in the kitchen while he takes the kids out somewhere. Maybe I’ll go out to a cafe on my own and write. Maybe I want to lock myself in the study with noise-cancelling headphones on and design something. Maybe I want to go for a run. Maybe I want to get my nails done. Maybe I just want to walk somewhere, anywhere, and stop and explore whenever I feel like it. Maybe I want to call my mom. Or finally sort out that really messy cupboard. Or sleep. Take a nap. Go for a swim. Whatever.

When I started feeling that resentment, I knew I had to change something.

This wasn’t my children’s fault. They’re not out to get me. This is my job. I’m supposed to be here, and really be here, for them. Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to try and do things for myself as well while I’m with them, but I need to make peace with the fact that with kids this young, they will need me—often, and for almost everything. I will be interrupted. I most likely won’t finish most of the things that I start.

And that’s okay. That’s just how things flow with little kids around.

But I don’t want to lose myself. I don’t want to forget who I am.

I am their mother—totally, wholly and entirely. It is my proudest role and it fills me with so much joy and love I can barely take it. But that is not all I am. I was, and am, many things before I became their mother. I miss her, sometimes. She has a heart that fills with excitement at the prospect of a new project or goal. She is revitalized by the adrenaline flowing through her body after going for an intense run. She loves to sing—loud. She has ideas. She wants to do things. She loves her family, but she feels that part of herself becoming smaller and quieter.

She knows that motherhood is an indescribable, beautiful sacrifice of so much of yourself, but she also knows, that to be able to take care of the people she brought into the world, she needs to make sure she takes care of herself, too. She needs to take herself out on a date, to remember what she loves about herself and to remind herself of everything she has been through to arrive at this landing point in her life.

Does the mama in your life need a date with herself?

I’m willing to bet she probably does. Whether you are that mama, or you’re married to her, or you’re her best friend, her parent, her neighbor—tell that mama to take herself out on a date. She may resist it and start to tell you the five hundred reasons why it’s not feasible. Whether you’re talking to yourself, or to another person, tell her—this is important. You can make this work. You don’t even need to leave the house. And you’ll be happy you did it afterward.


Join Motherly

10 must-have registry items that will change your life, mama

The baby gear heavy hitters that should be top of your list

Calling all mamas-to-be! It's a fundamental truth of (impending) motherhood that your prepping-for-baby To Do list can feel a mile long, but really the best way to feel organized is to sort out the most important item at the top of your list: your registry. Sure the items you choose to include will end up running the gamut from nice-to-haves to absolutely essential game-changers, but mamas in the know quickly learn one thing: Not all baby gear is created equal.

So while you can and should pepper your registry with adorable inclusions that aren't necessarily can't-live-withouts (go ahead, add 'em!), you should make sure you're ticking the boxes on those pieces of baby gear that can be absolute life savers once you're in full-blown mama mode. From car seats to bouncers and playmats, your play and travel gear will be some of the most obvious important items on your list, but so can unexpected things, like a super comfy baby carrier and a snooze-inducing white noise machine. So to help you sort through the must-have options, we turned to the holy grail of motherhood that is buybuy BABY and handpicked 10 of the very best essential pieces that will change your life, we promise.

Keep reading Show less
Our Partners

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Shop

10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

Here are the 10 photos you will want to take on baby's first day.

Keep reading Show less
Life