I spent the past 3 years in grad school (graduated last August) and have spent almost all of my time either at work, school or with my kids. Work and school took up so much time that I didn't want to lose anymore time with my children so I decided to just put my social life on hold unless I could take my kids with me. It also meant that I never got time to just have fun without responsibility. Even when playing softball (which is a stress reliever for me), I had my children for all but 2 games and had to split my attention between the game and keeping at least some kind of eye on them.
I am done with school now and had a chance tonight to go out with a friend I hadn't seen in over a year. This friend also has a young son but wanted it to be "kid free." My first reaction was to turn her down. After all, the restaurant was expensive and I knew I couldn't afford to eat there and hire a babysitter. I talked to my dad about it and I think he realized how badly I needed some adult time with a good friend I don't see often. He and my mom volunteered to watch my kids which meant I didn't have to pay for their dinner or a babysitter.
I can now say that was some of the best money I have spent. I came home feeling more relaxed and energized than I have felt in a very long time. All of a sudden, I had more energy when getting the kids ready for bed and can feel myself being more patient. I don't know how long this relaxed feeling will last but I can say that it was well worth the expense of a dinner out. Especially since it's the first time in my life I have spent that much money on one meal and the last time I will spend that much for a very long time. And don't forget it's the first time in three years that I had a girls night out. Every girl deserves one and three years was way too long to wait.
I love my kids to death and want to spend time with them. I am also learning that by taking a little time to myself, it makes me a better mom the rest of the time. I have more patience, more energy and feel better. I have a habit of always giving to others and forgetting to care for myself. I know this and I struggle to find a happy medium. I am learning that time to myself doesn't count if it means I am spending it shopping for Christmas or Easter gifts for my kids. I am still being a mom then and spending that "free" time meeting their needs and not my own. My kids will always come first and I will never want to leave them with other people so I can go out very often but once every 3 years is definitely not often enough. For now, I am just going to enjoy having my batteries recharged for the time being. That and hold, hug and appreciate my children during the time I am able to spend with them.