No matter what holiday is right around the corner, if you're a mom who shares time with another parent, you are already calculating the calendar for every holiday that follows in this year. While we might be working really hard to be present in this one moment, many of us are tick-tick-ticking to the time ahead when our kids won't be with us on that one day. With that can come sadness or anxiousness. There can be welled-up tears and walled-up emotions. There can be a lot in anticipation of the quiet empty. Time helps. And so does experience. Here are some ways to put them together to practice enjoying the time. If you need to stop, take a nap, wallow – that's OK. Then when you're ready, give it a try again.
You can do this. You can take this tiny plunge. You can slip in and savor for one little hour, one holiday, one otherwise very long weekend at a time.
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1. Send yourself on secret missions.
All of those "I've been meaning to" and "one day, I'll..." and "maybe when the kids are older" excuses have been cleared from your brain. This holiday is when you get to that decades-old list and turn it into something fun. Or when you dream up an idea that's way out of your neighborhood/comfort zone/daily habits and figure out how to make it happen. Send yourself out – sleuthy, savvy, simple and savoring the walk as well as the sights and conquest.
Here's some inspiration.
Find the perfect silver clogs.
Scout out three Georgia O'Keeffe paintings at the art museum (maybe even buy yourself a print or little postcard to hang on your bathroom mirror as a memento of precious time alone)
Investigate the top spots for a burger in your city. And hey, how are the fries?
Find out who gives the best foot massage in town.
Challenge yourself to home improvements. Can you wallpaper a powder room in one day?
See how many free trials at new gyms you can rack up.
Give yourself a DIY MBA when you watch as many free webinars as possible.
Become a hand-lettering master through an online class site.
2. Clean your fucking closet.
You know you will feel better in an hour or day (depending on the size of your closet and the amount of crap packed into it).
Is this daunting? Choose shoes (or something small and manageable).
Are you dating? Choose undies (or your white tee collection or something that makes you feel super sexy).
Ready to dig in? Pull out 20 items and post them on Poshmark or Craigslist or eBay. Take photos in a flat lay. Let the cash roll in – it may be slow and it may also add up so you can buy something you really love, escape somewhere outside of your home or take care of some practical expense.
3. Use up all the beauty samples.
Stop saving them. Stop stashing them. Today is that special someday when you get to slather on the fancy masks and use every drop of the spendy shampoo. I know you have a Rodan + Fields or Mary Kay friend knocking at your Facebook door this very minute. Hit them up for some samples. Or invite them over to give you and your lady friends a facial (they will be there in seven minutes flat, I promise). Give yourself seven makeovers if that's what the holiday calls for, or make it one long, luxurious head-to-toe pamper session.
4. Binge, baby.
Here's your time to power through every kid-inappropriate show starring badass ladies. Queue up Insecure, One Mississippi. Ozark, I Love Dick. Channel Claire Underwood (minus the murdery-sex stuff) – especially if you're pairing this with the closet challenge. Make it a party with paper plates that require nearly no clean-up, order in dinner, Amazon over some booze and invite some friends who are also going solo or desperately need a family escape excuse.
5. Get the hell out of here.
Yes, that means TRAVEL. As budget allows, gift yourself with experiences. Grab an AirBnB in your own city (ooh! and tie to another secret mission!). Snag a last-minute flight out of town. Explore another city. Visit a friend. Sleep in. Order room service. See something that is a lot easier without children who need naps/screens/early dinner. If you absolutely cannot untie your kids from your thoughts, consider this a scouting trip for a future adventure with them, and get the fun adult stuff in now while researching the child delights on the plane/train/Lyft ride.
6. Remember hobbies?
My boyfriend didn't believe that once upon a time I watched real, live, untaped, un-DVRed prime time television while I scrapbooked the crap out of everything happening in my life – until I pointed out the seven bins of fancy archival paper and circle cutters stashed in our storage space. I am not sure I need to return to that level of craftiness (you'll believe me when you see my suggestion below about tackling a melted plastic bead project for less than a half-hour, right?) but I do feel invigorated by calling up that same creative fire in small bursts.
Spend 15 glorious minutes doing a kid craft set. Bonus: This time you get all the glitter to yourself.
Dig into Jenny Lawson's delicious, spiritual, heart-tugging, feel-goody You Are Here: An Owners Manual for Dangerous Minds coloring book.
Get out the guitar. Dust off your tap shoes. See if you can still jump rope.
Open up the unused bread maker/gelato maker/waffle maker you got for your wedding and somehow ended up with in the divorce.
Don't just watch the makeup and nail tutorials, do them. (Start with Wayne Goss.)
Give yourself a photo challenge. You know the Black and White. No People. No Explanation challenge all over your Facebook feed right now? One up it.
Most importantly: WASTE HOURS DELIGHTING IN YOURSELF.
Whatever that is, whatever it looks like, whatever amount of time it takes, just delight in you.
The time will pass. The sadness will fade. The calendar will turn. Your kids will come home and life will go back to its chaotic, fantastic ways. Be there to greet it feeling good, accomplished, relaxed, alive and totally immersed in something you love (that's YOU, doll).
I want to hear more of your great ideas for savoring the time when your kids are spending holidays (or weekends, winter breaks or vacation) with another parent. How do you do it?