How I finally found time for myself

January 4 | Guest post by Addie Pobst
Poker chips
Photo by Uwe Hermann, used with Creative Commons license.

I love Tuesdays.

On Tuesday nights I play poker with my lady friends. The group has evolved some over the three years our game's been going. Some of us have gotten married, we've been pregnant, we've nursed our babies at the table and passed them around to be held by someone else while mama deals.

When our babies are old enough to stay home with our partners we revel in getting out kid-free for a night. We bitch about our jobs, our partners, politics, the weather, traffic, everything. We swap recipes and child-care tips and ideas for family outings and where the best clearance racks in town are. Our standard is a $5 buy-in, but when money's tight (or the tomatoes are ripe) we'll happily accept a barter item in place of the cash. I love my poker ladies.

As wonderful as Lady's Poker Night is, the BEST part of my Tuesdays now is the part before the game.

You see, once upon a time, poker was on Wednesdays, and it was early. I just had time to leave work, grab some kind of heat-n-eat or take-out dinner, and head over to the game. So that was OK; I got a night out, baby-free, and a game, and socializing –that's what everyone says a new mom needs.

It was hard, though. I was too tired to really get into socializing. As a mom and a wife and an employee I had people talking to me and needing things from me all the time, and poker started to feel more like another commitment to be discharged than a respite from the rest of my life.

But then people's schedules changed, as they are wont to do, and with one thing and another we ended up switching the game to Tuesday nights at 7:30. Well, that left me with around 3 hours between work and game time. I could go home, but when I tried that I ended up getting caught up in dinner, bath, etc. and blowing off the game entirely. No good! I needed my night off, away from home!

One day, I went to the library to return some kiddie books, and decided to grab a book for myself. I took it to the park and ate my take-out dinner and read. It was wonderful.

I started saving up errands. I'd go to the bank, grocery shop, go get some new socks and underwear, maybe get the oil changed in the car. That was better — my time was filled and I was getting my game in, but somehow it still didn't quite feel right. I mean, it's supposed to be my night off! I tried meeting up with friends before the game, but it was hard to fit schedules together consistently. And then one day, I went to the library to return some kiddie books, and decided to grab a book for myself. (I know — crazy, right?) I took it to the park and ate my take-out dinner and read. It was wonderful. It was exactly what I needed.

Now, the part of my Tuesday that I look forward to the most is the hours between work and the game. I go to the library, grab something at random from the "new releases" shelf just inside the door. I try not to spend too much time choosing – I'm not looking for the BEST book ever, just something to occupy my mind while I eat. I like to try different cafes, and I get a kick out of mixing and matching the book to the most unlikely type of restaurant. Little-old-lady mystery? Cajun food. Modern cyber spy thriller? Co-op bakery. Cheesy pre-historic romance? Korean stone pot restaurant. Elizabethan fantasy swashbucking adventure? Shrimp shack. Definitely. I've already got a book for tonight, a post-apocalyptic vampire novel. I'm thinking tamales.

I order my food, sip my tea, read my book, and no-one asks me to do anything. Nothing gets done — no errands, no socializing. Just pure "me" time. Then I pack up and head off to Poker recharged, ready to swap gossip and jokes and probably lose $5 — or maybe a basket of tomatoes — to my best friends.

Tuesdays for Sanity! Everyone needs a bit of time to themselves. I had heard the advice but I hadn't really understood it. I thought Poker — the socializing, the comraderie, the not-being-home-for-bedtime was what I needed. And it WAS part of what I needed, but just as you can't live on toast alone, I needed something more. Time for yourself sounds pretty simple, but it took me almost two years to figure it out. Blame it on sleep deprivation, I guess.

  1. Roller Derby is my thing, I go an hour early to read or draw and then run the stairs a few minutes before practice starts. Practice provides me with all the socialization I need, plus exercise!

    1 agrees
    • Roller derby is my "thing" too, although I am merely a nanny, hoping to have a lil one of my own in the next year or so (I am totally planning pregnancy around roller derby, don't judge!)

      There is no way I could give it up and luckily the other half knows this all too well 🙂

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    • For over a year, I've been harassing a friend to write a post about how he and his daughter both do roller derby. Hoping it'll come through at some point — I want to get some derby on Offbeat Mama so bad!!

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      • There are a few mother and daughter skating duos out there! I could try and find a few contacts if you like?

  2. that sounds so nice!! i wish i could have that!! i am a single mom of four, and i have no one to watch my kids… time to myself is zero.

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    • Maybe you can find another mom you can trade kid-watching with, just for a couple of hours a week. That's essentially my deal with my husband, he gets wednesday nights off and I get tuesday nights. Wednesdays are horribly hectic for me being alone with the kiddo but it's worth it, to keep us both sane.

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    • Just a thought for you, and all other parents on their own with no funds for professional childcare, when I was a teen I had a trade-off deal with a single mom of three down my street. I would watch her kids for an hour or two (so she could jog, go grab a quiet lunch, etc) and she would usually give me a little help with my math homework. If you don't have a trade-able skill, never forget the power of free food! For me, a home cooked meal with their family was worth at least 3 hours of watching the little 'uns 🙂 Time off is worth a little bargaining! As we see time and time again on this site, teens can be good people and, therefore, great resources for time-crunched parents.

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  3. Good advice! Sometimes it's hard to remember that you can't be of much to other people if you aren't taking care of yourself. And I hope you're reading "The Passage!" It's sooooo good.

  4. This is a great article. It is so true that we really need to listen to ourselves when finding what we need to re-charge. I am also a big fan of going alone to the library or bookstore and just having some me time. I often do a morning-afternoon trade with my husband, or do a trade with another mom. Even better is when I can send my son out so I get time alone in the house. I curl up with a good book or work on some art.

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  5. post-apocalyptic vampire novel…. I Am Legend? If not…. PLEASE! Tell me the title! I need this post-apocalyptic vampire novel stat!

    • It was "Vampire Winter" – pretty good, despite the seriously cheeseball cover art. Not the best ever, but a fun quick read. 🙂

  6. Nights out are how I survive. I used to have guilt about it but no more. Just takes a few crazy episodes to remind us we need to be individuals first in order to be sane partners/parents/etc.

    1 agrees
  7. My hubby is trying desperately to allow me this, but my son is trying desperately to NOT allow this, since I"m the only one who can put him to sleep. XD Soon, though, I will definitely be having my night out a week or so. <3

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  8. I totally appreciate the moments as I get them….yoga is one way I find solace, and then sitting in peace reading a novel or the newspaper (maybe with a cup of coffee or tea at hand!). This spells heaven!

  9. I get very litte time to myself right now; our new daughter is 3 months old and breastfeeding so I need to be on-hand. We do gaming on Friday nights here but like you said, some nights it just feels like *another* thing to get done. While I have time to myself in the afternoons, it's *with* my daughter. I save my sanity from sitting at home too much by taking us for walks and grabbing lunch, with a book, while Little Miss naps. I'm glad you've found a way to get some Me Time; it's SO important!

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