After kids, a woman must completely redefine the concept of “me-time.” Lazy Sunday mornings with "The New York Times" spread out across the unmade bed? Ha! A bath, alone, and no one chanting “Mama. Mama. Where Mama?!” at the door? Never. Me-time is now something only found in stolen moments, when everyone else is too busy to pay attention. Here are seven ways moms can sneak in some alone time.
In the Bathroom
(10 minutes, max) If you can somehow sneak a magazine into the bathroom without being seen, and the TV is on the just-right show and maybe the dishwasher or dryer is humming softly enough that no one notices the strange quiet of mom’s-not-in-earshot, you might get to read a whole feature article. If you’re truly lucky, you might be able to finish one of those 10,000-word "New Yorker" pieces.
In the Car After School
(10 to 25 minutes, depending on how early you are for pick-up) If you have children of school age, and you handle pick-up, there is the inactive bliss of sitting in the car in the 3PM pick-up queue, binge e-tailing on your phone while also half-listening to public radio, so you kinda, sorta know what’s happening in the world. It all evens out.
(8 blissful hours, for those who work full-time) There are those who will disagree, but for a lot of working moms, the office is a form of “me-time.” Sure, coworkers can be as maddening as toddlers, but at least they'll let you in the bathroom stall alone. A recent study out of Penn State showed that cortisol levels -- a marker for stress -- was much lower for women at work than at home.
In the Wee Hours of the Night
(20 minutes to 2 hours, depending). A lot of new moms still wake up regularly in the middle of the night well after a baby or toddler has finally learned to sleep through. Some might be lucid enough to tap out notes for a work project or refine a to-do list, but, at 3AM, most moms are Facebook-stalking old boyfriends and frenemies.
In the Early Morning Hours
(15 to 90 minutes, depending) When push comes to shove, desperate moms will set alarms for 5AM, before the sun -- and everyone else in the house -- is up. At first, the 5AM club can mean almost two hours of solitude, with coffee, a yoga mat or whatever helps you feel like you again. After a while, you're hitting snooze, and it's just 15 minutes before the kids -- but those 15 minutes count!
At the Store
(30-45 minutes) Sure, getting the groceries is technically a chore, but shopping alone someplace where everything is stacked neatly, the food is shiny and fresh, and someone hands you food or drink that you didn't have to cook for yourself? Heaven. Bonus: Choosing the longest checkout line, so you can thumb through the latest "US Weekly" or "Star."
During the Magic Hour
(Up to an hour, sometimes more) When you have a friend whose kids are at an age compatible with your own, and everyone has napped, and no one is hangry, and maybe it’s nice out, and maybe there is wine... there’s a magic moment when you’re deep in conversation, unhurried, and you’re completely there. You’re not alone, true, but, for that one fleeting moment, you’re you, unemcumbered -- and that’s as me as me-time gets.