I remember it like it was yesterday.
It was 5:30-ish-pm and my husband walked in the door after a long day of work.
He looked at me and saw his once lovely wife, covered in spit-up, hair in a not-so-fashionable Mom bun, with a crying baby on my hip, with a whining toddler wrapped around my legs, cementing me into place. The house in disarray.
Tears welled up in my eyes and my chin started quivering the moment I saw my husband in the doorway. I was in the middle of a full-blown meltdown.
He took one look at me and said “Go, just go. I got this. Get in the car and I’ll see you in a few hours.”
Thank you dear husband, thank you…
After a quick 5-minute spit shine and a new clean-ish shirt, I pulled out of my driveway, leaving the chaos behind.
Deep breaths, deep breaths.
With tears in my eyes, I drove to the end of my street and stopped. Where was I going anyway?
I have been graciously given a few hours to spend on my own and I had no idea where to go.
I looked left and right, trying to decide which way to turn the car when…HONK!…apparently, the angry driver behind me was tired of my indecision.
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So, I turned left and went where all mothers are supposed to go. Target.
I spent a few hours perusing the aisles, sipping my Starbucks mocha frappuccino, and picking up a few things the kids needed.
I didn’t see much that I just had to have, so I meandered, by myself.
As I walked back into my house later that evening, I didn’t feel fulfilled or rested. I was still tired and upset and didn’t feel any better than before I left.
I sat down on the couch and cried…again. That’s when it hit me. I had wasted a precious gift of time that my husband had so graciously offered me.
I was sad. More than that, I was mad.
I was mad that I had let myself get lost in motherhood.
Mad that I had lost grip of all the things that made me me.
I was just a Mom, wife, homemaker and nothing else.
Where was that woman who loved to run outside in the fresh morning air? Where was that woman who enjoyed having intelligent conversations with her friends? Where was the woman who loved learning at museums and getting lost in a great book?
Now, I’m the woman who can’t even figure out where to spend one kid-free hour. I had lost touch with the very things that made me me.
I loved my life, but I needed more. My family needed more.
There, sitting in our dark living room with tears running down my face, knew I needed to find me again.
So I ran down to our small office and pulled out my old dusty journal and started writing.
I began that journal entry with the phrase, If I could do anything I wanted what would I do?
I wrote and wrote and wrote. For hours it seemed, page after page, I wrote out all of my dreams and desires.
When I was done, I took a deep breath and went back to page one and reread my raw emotion and inspiring dreams.
Reading back over that journal entry, a few things came to light.
I could see that my soul needed me to get outside, treat myself, and to be around good people. I was also reminded of long forgotten hobbies, such as knitting and reading.
Frantically, I tore a page out of my journal and wrote: Things I Love To Do at the top and made a list.
It started with these:
- spend time outside
- treat myself with good chocolate and wine
- walk around a bookstore
- read an actual real book
- have a cup of coffee with a friend
- sit and knit with the old ladies in a local yarn store
My list went on, as I wrote out every thing, little or big, that brought me joy.
I tucked that list away and two years later, I still use it often.
Whenever I find myself with alone time, I can go to my list and do something that fills my soul.
Now, tell me….
When’s the last time you filled your cup?
I’m not talking about just kid-free time, but when’s the last time you did something that made your soul happy?
After you get some time on your own, do you feel refreshed, happy, relaxed?
If not, it’s time to start daydreaming. It’s time to make your list.
What is calling out to you?
Writing is extremely therapeutic. It unleashes creativity and helps you dig deeper into your subconscious thoughts and needs.
So take some time and sit with either a pen or pencil and grab something to write on. A journal or even a scrap of paper will do.
Find a quiet place, or wear ear plugs like I do (I love these) and get to writing.
If you need some help getting started, try one of these journal prompts:
- If I could do anything I wanted what would I do?
- If I had a kid-free day, I’d….
- If I had a magic wand and could do whatever I wanted today, I’d…
- I’ve always wanted to…
And just start writing. Don’t think too much about what you’re writing, just let the words flow.
Write in sentences or just throw words on paper, there’s not a right or wrong way to do this, just get your thoughts out.
Create Your List
After spending some time writing, look back on your list. What sticks out to you? Do you see any themes?
Maybe you dream about being in nature, like I do. Maybe you wish to go to a music concert or dance. Whatever it is, notice the things that make your heart sing.
Now, make a list.
Write down all the things, big and small, that make up your daydreams.
Keep it handy for when you find some time for you.
I keep mine in my wallet, so it’s always close at hand.
With my trusty list, I’m happy to say that you’ll no longer find me meandering around Target alone with my mocha frappachino. If you need me, I’ll be hiking outside or knitting with the ladies in the closest yarn store, filling my cup.
To help you get started on your list, I’ve put together a free journal page and happy mom list just for you. Download it, print it out, and get to writing!
This is so spot on! I’ve definitely found myself in a wild daze in the middle of the kitchen- frozen with indecision on how to spend unexpected kid-free time. I agree, when I “squander” it- I often feel worse than before! I love the idea of keeping a list of things that fill you up.. it is silly, but sometimes when you are in the moment you do forget what things you enjoy! 😀
Yes, I agree. It’s a strange feeling when you realize that you’ve forgotten what things you enjoy. I was tired of squandering it and my list has helped a lot. I hope this helps you too.
Wow this is an amazing thing to do, way to go Amanda A BIG THANKS for reminding us mothers THAT we need some time out too.
Unfortunately there are days when you have no support no friends its just you figuring out life seems imposible. But thanks your words have really good impact on my life. Love you stay blessed ALWAYS
Thank you 🙂
Totally.Get.This. I realized that this is still an issue for me even though my kids are older and more independent. I had a couple of days (!!) to myself this past week and I was sitting on the couch going, “Ok. Now what??!?” I couldn’t believe that I am still stuck in this place. You would think after 11 years of being mom I could figure this out!!! Thx for the good ideas. I’m going to grab my journal and write too!!!!!
Oh, I hope writing helps you. It’s amazing how wrapped up we get in motherhood, that we slowly forget how to spend time alone.
Lotta De Coster
Thank you Amanda :-), your blog is inspiring,
Thank you <3
Ha! Finally I am not alone and I knew there were others suffering with the same thing! It took me until my daughter was 8 and the loss of both of my parents to realize that life is short and I also have the need to be happy and fulfilled. After a 28 year hiatus, I started riding horses again and at the young age of 41, I compete in barrel racing and have even tried out for the Drill team for Rodeo. It’s long practices are very physically demanding but I go home happy and giddy even with dirt and horse sweat covering my face. Rediscover your passion(s) and don’t let them go. Now, both my husband and daughter come watch me practice and cheer me on from the stands. I have even got them in to riding and we have grown our family to include 4 beautiful horses. We are a much happier and closer family because we all are getting to do what we love in addition to being a family unit.
Oh my gosh! I love your story, it made me so happy to hear you found such an amazing passion after all those years. Good job, that’s amazing!
This is a really, really important topic – for anyone. Most of us are good at squandering free time (and money) and coping with stress/hard times in unhealthy ways. The hard part is that stay-at-home moms with multiple children feel this so much more than anyone else. Husbands and working moms can sort of understand but don’t go through the various shades of continual self-neglect where little to nothing promotes your-SELF (even if just a career or being free from a whining/tantruming/needy/fighting little people for a few hours). Making a list like you did can liberate the mind, even if physically none of that is possible yet.
What if you don’t even remember what you enjoy doing?
The journal writing helps with this a lot. Start writing out your daydreams (as far fetched as they may be) and from there you can see patterns of things. If you’re really struggling, check out my Banish the Mom Funk Challenge, it will walk you through the steps of discovering hobbies and how to truly find joy in your daily life. I think it can help, and it’s free.
I felt like that. My answer is what do you fancy trying. Knitting, crochet, drawing, music, a museum, a walk, running, reading, a manicure, reading at the library, playing video games. Needle craft. A visit to a store like Michael’s can be inspirational. Make jewelry or perhaps wood work. Maybe gardening. Or card making or scrapbooking. Maybe just sorting out your photos into albums on or offline. Walk dogs at your local pound. Just a few thoughts for you. I found I like a variety of things I keep my list and decide what I’m in the mood for.
So true! I read the article thrice just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming as I often get to hear that you are not the only mum in the world so I had to make sure. But again, it’s an awesome piece of advice and it will help me find me! Thanks
Bee | www.betterthanbusy.com
This is such a common phenomena. I’ve had the discussion with so many mummy friends.
If we do get a break we clean the house or make dinner (GUILTY!!) instead of nurturing ourselves or getting in touch with our creative side.
I started writing again after many years hiatus to try and remember who I was. Now I can’t imagine myself stopping and I”m always pulling out journals or notepads to jot down a thought or two.
Thanks for sharing this Amanda! I’m a first-time mom of a two-year-old and I’ve found myself stuck in the same cycle. My husband will often offer me the opportunity to go and take some time for myself and I either pass it up, or squander it, because I can never figure out what I would truly like to be doing. While I’ve recently re-discovered my passion for writing with a new blog, it is great to have a reminder to simply sit down and make a list of the things that I used to enjoy, or things that I’m dying to do – it is so incredibly easy to get completely wrapped up in motherhood. I find it hard to remind myself that taking time for myself will make me a happier (and more patient) mother to my rambunctious toddler. 🙂
Thank you for sharing Amanda! I came across your post in one of those moments. Your brilliant suggestion has become the capstone of my personal balance. Letting the words flow in my journal gave me that renewal I was so much looking for.
Very inspiring. My son is 6 and, while I have made a lot of progress on filling my cup, I still find myself wandering around Target at times. The list idea is awesome. Getting to writing now.
Agree 1000%. The only thing I want to do when I’m alone is watch TV in a bathrobe, or lay by a pool, and I can’t seem to imagine anything beyond that. I have no answer to the question “what would you do if you had a million dollars.” Makes me sad to think I have no interests anymore. Will definitely give this a try- thank you.
As an entrepreneur, the transition to motherhood was rough for me. After I had my son, I looked and felt exactly like your description at the beginning of the post! I had a kid breastfeeding around the clock and felt like I had no time to be me. No time to return calls or emails for my business. No time to write a blog (which is something I truly love to do). No time to attend the many meetings that were on my schedule that I had hoped to drag baby along to!Those first few weeks and even months were rough until I sat down and reminded myself of what makes me me. Being productive makes me happy and I knew that I had to show some productivity, whether that be around the house, related to my business, or writing a new blog. Once I reminded myself that I’m more than just the milk supplier for my son and actually took some action to make that happen, I was so much happier. And I was better at being there for my son too!
Don’t feel bad, ladies, if you have to take some time for yourself. As a counselor, I hear way too many moms tell me that it’s selfish to take time away from the kids for me time. It is so not! And now that I’ve had the opportunity to experience it first hand, I can promise you that it makes you a much better mom in the long-run. They won’t remember that you took an hour for yourself before picking them up from daycare, but they will remember if you spend most of your time yelling because you’re so stressed out by all of the many expectations that are unfortunately placed on moms (especially this time of year). But don’t worry, a little bit of yelling here and there isn’t going to ruin their life either 🙂
This is great! I never really sat and thought about what I would want to do when I was kid free. As a new mom, it is hard not to feel the guilt of wanting to be without my sweet angel. My husband has told me plenty of times to “Go get out of the house” but it usually ends up with me running errands. I love the idea of making a list and journaling. Thank you for the post!!