We've all been there. One minute you're wondering when you're ever going to get any blasted time to yourself, when suddenly it all lines up. The kids are gone, the house is quiet, and the possibilities are endless. At least for an hour. Then the indecision sets in. Before you know it, the whole crew is back and up in your grill about "what's for dinner!" but all you did the whole time was scroll through Facebook and watch like six Beyonce videos. (True confessions, right here.) It's like being offered any dessert on the menu and being so overwhelmed that you blurt out "I'll have the jello!" OH MY GOD. I DON'T EVEN LIKE JELLO! NO ONE DOES! WHAT IS HAPPENING? I TOTALLY CHOKED.
I could have been productive. I could have learned something, or relaxed, or improved myself in some way shape or form. To prepare for the next time a free hour is spontaneously, gloriously, bestowed upon me, I asked a few hundred of my closest internet ladies what they would do in the same situation. And if I learned anything, it's there's no demographic better equipped to tell you how to maximize 60 minutes than brilliant, busy mothers.
Here's what they suggested: Round up the outgrown clothes and forsaken toys and bag them up for donation. Put the bag in your car so nothing sneaks back into rotation. Savor that pile of magazines you've only paged through. Go ahead and choose US Weekly over The New Yorker. No one has to know. Take a long hot bath. With all the fancy stuff. (Bubbles, candles, sour patch kids, your call.) Enjoy the fact no one is going to barge in and have to poop. Fire up the Netflix. (Pick a show from the travel channel, and it's almost like taking a vacation.) Take a walk (or a run if you're not me). Head in a direction you normally wouldn't. Make a meal.
Eat it with both hands while it's still hot. Go grocery shopping. Take your time and buy only the things you want to buy. Toss in some fresh flowers. Post up at a coffee shop with a fancy drink and write/read/draw/knit/stare off into space. Call someone you haven't caught up with in awhile. (Surprise! My mother not so passive-aggressively suggested this.) Groom your pet. (This is not one that I would have ever considered. I once gave a cat a flea bath, and that was about as much fun as hugging a cactus. But in all fairness, that cat was an asshole.) Crank up the music. The kind with obscenities. Do some yoga. Go to a store with breakables.
Antique shops, fancy boutiques, anywhere you'd have chest bursting anxiety bringing your kids. Get your nails did. Make a list. Places you want to go. A month of goals. Recipes you want to try. Books you'd like to read. Five things you want to learn. All the reasons you're awesome. Plan an epic meal. Research the recipes, makes the lists, strategize execution. Have an orgasm. Or two. Then take a nap. Write a letter. Mail it. Sit outside with no distractions. Listen.
Listen to a podcast while cleaning/walking the dog/sitting in the sunshine. If you want pop culture, try The Read. For stellar story telling try This American Life, Death Sex and Money, or Mortified. If you want to expand your noggin, try Note to Self, Question of the Day, or Ted Talks. Shave your legs. Past the knee. Wander through the makeup department and try all of the things. Treat yourself to a lipstick that kills. Eat candy and play video games. Because that's what the kids think they're missing when you send them to bed anyway. Take a bike ride. Go for a swim. No one will splash you, make you watch the same trick over and over or require your eyeballs to keep them from drowning. Paint/Dance/Draw/Take photographs/Play an instrument. Whatever inspires you.
Take yourself out for ice cream. I don't know why, but eating ice cream alone makes it taste even better. Plan a night out. Rally those included, book the reservations, secure the babysitter. Clean the car. Or better yet, drop it off to someone else and eat a croissant while you wait for them to finish. Start a craft project, or put time into one already in progress. Go to an expensive store and try on anything you want. In peace. Make an epic playlist for your next workout/party/chill session. Organize the photos on your phone. Add them to Notabli, back them up into Dropbox or Google photos, order prints. Delete. Start a "what to wear" Pinterest board. Include pieces you already have. Use it in the mornings when you "have nothing to wear." Finally, drop off that bag of stuff you've been carting around for a whole damn month with the intention of donating.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, these are the leading causes of death for infants and preschoolers. Awareness is key
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