Moms Deserve a Time-Out, Too

Image source: Suzanne Jannese/Jessica Mason
Image source: Suzanne Jannese/Jessica Mason

After a day of frantic school runs, making rushed lunches, tedious homework-checking, baking (badly) for a school fair, creating a rough costume that my son only mentioned needing at 5 pm the night before, doing endless laundry, putting away endless laundry, desperately cleaning and tidying the house, sorting through the stack of bills, oh yes — trying to write for a living, and then cooking (read: burning) dinner, I am, how should one say? A tad fraught.

I’m bored of trying to cajole my 4-year-old daughter into eating her dinner for the guts of an hour, I’m completely over my 8-year-old’s math homework (didn’t I give that up at age 16?), and I can no longer sustain enthusiasm for kids TV, a football game story, or another drawing to coo over. I’m sorry little people, but I want some ME time. And staying indoors is not the key. By the time the kids head to bed, it’s 8:30 pm and I know I have an insane amount of clothes to fold in my laundry room. The only solution to relax and have some fun is TO GET OUT OF THE HOUSE.

For me, that usually means seeing a movie, but I MUCH prefer a night out with my gal pals. There, I can down a glass of red wine or two, (who am I kidding — or four) natter about life, and laugh like a drain. I come home completely satiated and in much better spirits than when I left.

So it is with much confusion that I read this week that U.K. TV host Holly Willoughby told The Belfast Telegraph that she doesn’t hit the town anymore.  She said, “It’s just not worth it. It’s fun at the time, and then the next day you go, ‘Oh, I can’t do it.’ It makes it all so much harder.” Willoughby, I should add, is 34 years old and has a great looking gang of girl mates that she often tweets photos of.

However, she has three children — Harry 6, Belle, 4 and Chester, 6 months — so it’s no wonder she has her hands full. But I would argue that this is PRECISELY why she needs a social life, if only to retain a bit of her former self.

I’m not going to lie, trying to have a social life once you’ve had kids is no walk in the park, particularly when you have a small baby. But I was completely determined to not lose all sight of my former self, or lose touch with people who were dear to me, just because I had become a mom.

I have a distinct memory of going to the movies with my husband 10 days after our son was born and thinking, “I’ve missed this.” Perhaps this sounds odd, but we used to hit the movies three times a week! Meanwhile, I’m convinced that my extreme loneliness at being inside a house with a baby 24/7 (my husband worked evenings and weekends so I was often alone, with no family nearby) only contributed to my postpartum depression.

My husband says I am the most social person he has ever met, and while he prefers to spend time alone, I thrive best in company. Without it, I’m like an unwatered flower. I physically droop, I lose my joy for life, and I am honestly miserable. If anything since I became a mom, my need for a night on the town is even GREATER because it is such a rarity. Having a baby meant I went from the woman who had six evenings out a week, to one a month, and it was beyond a shock to my system. It derailed me in more ways than I ever imagined: I felt trapped, isolated, unconnected to culture, friends’ lives, and work, and above all – horrifically lonely.

So many women seem to lose themselves when they become moms: they hang up their party shoes and settle down to life of box-sets and takeout. And as great as these things are, I can’t help feeling these women — once so full of interesting conversation — are now reduced to talking about baby poop and what the best schools are in the area.

Of course having kids means they should be your priority, but what about YOU? Don’t you deserve some time out? A night out to have some fun and let off some steam? Surely we need that after being responsible for the lives of one or more people!

I do completely understand where Willoughby’s coming from when she said that going out isn’t worth it, as after consuming one too many martinis, dancing on a table until 2 am, and then having to get up at 5:30 am with a sick child, I’m not fit for anything. But should we let the responsibilities of the next day ruin our fun? I say NO! No matter how shattered, hungover, or even ill we feel the next day, it is still worth it. Because it is a moment of sanity in an otherwise chaotic, relentless, often thankless life that we have as moms. Yes, being a parent is a great life and one we all chose and adore, but that doesn’t mean we have to turn into completely new people.

If anything it means we should strive to get out as often as we can! (If we have the energy for it, which is a whole other ballgame!) I’m not saying become some promiscuous lady on the prowl who thinks she can flirt with 20-year-olds and give Beyonce a run for her money in the booty-shaking department. I’m just saying that getting out and being social is an important part of ourselves to water so we don’t start to resent the other areas of our lives.

We all need something for ourselves, don’t we? Now, where are those ridiculous heels I last wore in ’97?

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