I got in my car, and I drove five hours north. It was normally something I would have dreaded doing on my own, but this time I was armed with an audiobook and an overdue need for some alone time. After all, it had been a year since I last spent that much time solo.
I am privileged; I realize that. My husband was able to manage the kids. (It was in exchange for a recent fishing trip, see my previous post). And my aunt and uncle had given me, and my recently vaccinated and soon-to-be birthday girl/college friend from Chicago, access to their lake house in Wisconsin for the weekend. We caught up, drank wine, read a lot, ate delivery, took a couple of snowy walks, and quietly sat around in the side-by-side recliners. If I am being honest, it was glorious. Here are a few things I realized during this exercise:
- In order to be all-in for my kids and my husband, I need to take care of myself too. Part of that is prioritizing myself on occasion. It feels good just to say that. Mom burnout is real, ladies. Now more than ever.
- Sitting with yourself and your thoughts is healthy. Journaling is great. Reading is wonderful. But you don’t have to always be doing something. In fact, doing nothing is really healthy.
- It is not all about being alone. A good lady support system, moms and non-moms, sisters and friends, are crucial to our mental health. I am lucky to have family that I see, friends that I talk to every day, a group text of best friends that have given me life on many an occasion, and girlfriends who will listen like it is their job. I recently came to terms with the fact that apparently, drinking wine with my girlfriends is one of my favorite hobbies. And unfortunately, this pandemic has taken a lot of that away from me.
Recently, for her 50th birthday, Spanx founder and mother of four, Sara Blakely, asked her husband for seven days alone. She hid away in a cabin drinking red wine, journaling, and eating room service French fries. Documenting the journey on Instagram (she’s a great follow, by the way), Blakely promised that in her new decade, she “will definitely be letting go of the guilt I feel when I prioritize myself with self-care and love.” While not all of us can take that kind of time or have access to a cabin in Wisconsin, we can and should take a page out of her book. Here are some suggestions:
- Take a drive by yourself. Try doing so with no real destination, no plan, and definitely no errands.
- Check yourself into a local hotel for the night. There are many great hotels in the area where you too could drink red wine and order french fries from room service. Plus, it is always fun to be a tourist in your own city.
- Take a walk with a friend. Leave the kids at home with your husband or sneak away on lunch while they are at daycare and catch up with a friend in real life. You will feel better, promise.
- Use nap time for yourself. I don’t know about you, but I always try to sneak in a ton of chores or a workout during nap time. Try using nap time to do nothing, maybe catch up on a show you want to binge, read a book, or take a nap yourself.
- Find a therapist that works for you. The pandemic has caused massive anxiety for all of us. Don’t be afraid to find a therapist and share your feelings. Even once or twice a month can make a difference. I know, I just started my therapeutic journey.
Born and raised in St. Louis, Jessica (Lillie) Ciccone is mom to Frank “Trip” III and Winnie. She is married to Frank II, whom she convinced to move back to her hometown after eight years in Boston, where he grew up. Together, Frank and Jessica enjoy finding new and exciting places to travel with their kids. While in St. Louis, they love spending time with her parents and the extended Lillie clan as Jessica is the lesser, but older, one of three redheaded sisters and fellow moms.
Professionally, Jessica serves as the Director of Communications at Saint Louis University School of Law. When she can find spare time, she enjoys running, biking, and a nice glass of wine with friends and family. She is a fierce advocate of paid family leave and dreams of knowing a world where moms in the United States can take an unlimited amount of time with their newborns.