Staying Sane: 41 ideas for yourself

Through my research of talking with other working mothers, reading email list boards, web surfing other mommy blogs, it becomes painfully clear that to maintain sanity and keep the balls in the air, you need to stop from time to time and take care of YOU, the juggler. It is so easy to get trapped into being 100% devoted to your first child — but when you re-enter the workforce after maternity leave, you very quickly realize that there isn’t enough of you to go around for child, for work – let alone yourself. I was one of those women over the past 5 years that essentially gave up on who I was as a person – I still tried to have EVERYTHING. I wanted the job/career, I wanted the kids – but mathematically that just can’t happen with just two goals let alone fitting some time for myself in there too. I’m sure you’ve heard all over the place that one way to give more happiness to your kids is to make sure YOU are happy, recharged, revitalized. Not a depleted, sorry mess. Which is easier said than done.

For the past 5 years I absolutely DID NOT take care of myself. I lost myself into my babies and my work — and the person I was before children essentially disappeared. I remember one time the wife of one of Hubby’s friends, who is a stay-at-home mom, told me that her husband carved out time to enable her to take TWO different art classes. She asked me if I’m able to do anything like this. I looked at her like she had three heads. I work full-time. At that time I had two small kids. NO I did NOT have time for an art class. I responded to her: “Um, I take a shower for 5 minutes each day but even then there’s usually a kid on the outside pounding to get in.” Hubby and I did not have date nights. The “girls nights” I used to organize just stopped. It became harder and harder for me to make my quarterly trips to the East Coast to “get back to my roots.” The problem was not that I didn’t have the time to do these things, it was that I was not ALLOWING or DEMANDING that I get the time to do these things. The result was that I lost the essence of the person I was before children. I became completely depleted and alone — feeling like I had no friends, no outlet, and that no part of my life was for me any longer. For this and other reasons, I felt lost and stuck in a very, very dark place. But then I dusted myself off and proclaimed that 2011 is the “Year of [Mama K]”.

Since it was the Year of Mama K and since I’m a woman of extremes, I went a little crazy focusing on ME. After years of pent-up self-deprevation, I suddenly went hog-wild on anything related to ME, MYSELF, or I. It was actually a lot of fun during the process.

  • I purged my entire closet and donated about 9 garbage bags of dated, old clothes
  • I proceeded to buy beyond belief via online shopping with Seriously, I think I became one of their top-tier customers overnight. I started with shoes. I must have purchased 9 pairs of high, high heels – ranging from silvery numbers to gold-tone crystally numbers, to commutable flat shoes, to various boots, to leopard stilettos, to new Tevas and it just goes on and on.

These a just a few of my new purchases for ME

  • I then went to shirts, dresses, belts, bags, costume jewelry…. I enlisted the help of friends who said my wardrobe MUST contain designer jeans (who honestly pays $250 for a pair of jeans??) and a trench coat so I still need to get them. I also need to physically go shopping for pants (I cannot do that online). I’m about 60% complete with replacing my entire wardrobe. Just in time for a NEW season! HA!!!!!!
  • Massages — yes I got them, I think 3 of them so far in the past 4 months.
  • Online make up — with COLOR versus my standard natural palate. Check out Bare Essentials – I love that stuff now. I decided to expand beyond my natural palette and experimented with blues, purples, and smokey gray/black shades. Love it.
  • Nails, pedicure, lotions, bubble baths. I also bought a Clarisonic for deep cleaning my face. I’m also big on at-home mud masks.
  • A trip to Florida to see my dad was my most extravagant splurge. I just needed to re-charge. I took Twin Crazy with me. I had not been to his house in 4 1/2 years which I think is pathetic.
  • I’ve been meeting friends for lunches and dinners. I try to do this at least every other week. I tend to drink during these meetings and get tipsy over just 1 drink! One night I got so drunk that I had to leave my car in the city and a friend had to drive me home — she literally went 45 minutes out of her way to do this for me. [Thank you Mama HJ]
  • Starting this blog I think is another way for me to talk about me. It’s still focused on work and my kids, but it helps me to use this outlet to describe how I feel and what is going through my head. Plus NOBODY tells me what to do. I control this project all on my own. I ask advice but I’m the one that owns this baby.

So essentially, I went COMPLETELY overboard. Even people at work know that this is the Year of Mama K — since I’m showing off all of my new outfits and there are Amazon boxes all over the place. I realize though that I cannot keep up the spending spree, although it was gloriously fun. Since I’m already on a roll with “Year of Mama K” and thinking selfishly, I decided to keep the momentum going and started to brainstorm some simpler things to be good to myself WITHOUT breaking the bank. I worked on this until I hit #41 as a goal (my age). You may enjoy some of these as well…

  1. EXERCISE — moms are continuously talking/writing about this. Start out slow. Go for a walk just to breath and let your mind wander. Build up to a stronger workout when ready. Either alone or with kids (walking, riding bikes, hiking). Try DVDs like Pilates, Yoga. Try walking or exercising on your lunch hour. Rotate evenings with your partner so each of you can have time to exercise.
  2. CONNECT WITH PEOPLE. Use commuting time to call friends to say hello. Try to reconnect with one “lost” friend every month.
  3. Home spa: Facials, mud-masks, exfoliate! Foamy bubble baths! Make a weekly ritual.
  4. go out a grab a fancy coffee — one with a really long name that is preferably high-calorie
  5. read a book (not child-related)
  6. subscribe to a magazine on a topic that only I will enjoy
  7. meditate, deep breathing
  8. sleep; ask Hubby for one weekend morning OFF from kid-duty to allow for extended sleep. [maybe make this a ritual and trade-off – one take Sat morning and the other take Sun morning]
  9. take a nap
  10. eat consistently – don’t skip meals
  11. Take vitamins
  12. plant flowers; grow some herbs
  13. Get a new haircut. From an upscale place you have not been to before. Maybe get adventurous and do some color too!
  14. Go to a wine/beer store and pick something out that looks exotic and fun that was NEVER had before. Crack it/them open with Hubby or friends
  15. Take a walk to nowhere
  16. Take a drive to nowhere on a sunny day. Roll down your windows. Blast music. Sing loudly.
  17. Take a ferry ride to nowhere
  18. Take a train to nowhere
  19. Download music and create a folder/ playlist only for my favorites. Make a point to LISTEN to this music on a daily basis – with or without the family
  20. take 15 minutes every day or so to lay or sit in the sun — soak in that vitamin D.
  21. Find a hobby and spend short bursts of time routinely to cultivate it. Pick an instrument and learn to play it. Experiment with painting/watercolor. Learn to knit. Learn to sew. Learn a different language.
  22. take a short weekend getaway by yourself, with hubby, or some friends
  23. do a “girls only” vacation
  24. rent a hotel room for a night in the neighborhood — either alone, with hubby, or a girlfriend. Enjoy the fresh sheets, use all the towels that they offer, throw them all over the place, and take home the lotions and shampoos. Use the indoor pool, exercise room, hot-tub. Or not.
  25. go to a park and have a picnic. Drink a beer. Lay down under a tree and take a nap.
  26. go to the library alone and sit down with a book
  27. buy some fun hair accessories – clips, bands, fun pony-tail bands, barettes
  28. buy a SOFT pair of pajamas
  29. get a pair of new slippers
  30. buy new / comfortable yet sexy underwear and bras
  31. Go dancing. Or dance in the house with the kids
  32. Have a Guinness (or many)
  33. Get engrossed in a HBO series (I love True Blood, Treme)
  34. Eat a chocolate sundae with extra fudge
  35. Make yourself a nice tea, in a BIG teacup — buy a teapot where you have the strainer and real tea leaves
  36. Get a water fountain over stone set up — very “zen-like”
  37. Use a sound machine and pretend you’re at the beach! Or in a Rainforest!
  38. Wake up before ANYONE else does and go for a walk
  39. Write a blog entry; surf the net, comment on interesting blogs
  40. Get a Wii with dancing, etc.
  41. Explore a new part of your neighborhood. Discover streams, trees, and houses you never were aware of

We owe it to ourselves to get back some of our “old” selves and also allow ourselves the opportunity and time to get to know our “newer” selves. As new moms and working moms in particular, we are always transforming and changing…. trying to figure things out — we need time to devote to ourselves to allow us to recharge and find ourselves. I can’t joke or pretend that any of the above will bring true happiness, but I do think that allowing myself time for ME on a consistent basis will at least help me feel happier, more connected with who I am, let me know the person I have become/am becoming, and possibly/ HOPEFULLY help to balance work/kids/life…. just by demanding some more of ME.

Please help me!!!! Let’s start a MOVEMENT here!!!! Think about more things to do just for YOU!!!! What do you do for you? What would you LIKE to do to reconnect with your old or newer self? Please do two things for me: 1) comment to this post and add your ideas — and keep the numbering going (e.g., first commenter please start at #42…. ) and 2) Please pass this along to others.

How many new ideas can we realistically brainstorm???? Can we get to 500? 1,000? More???? I think so.

And then make a promise to yourself to fulfill the ones that interest you. You deserve it, your family deserves it, your kids deserve it.


Looking forward to hearing responses —

– Mama K


  1. 44. join a gym that has child care — and go as much as possible, even if it’s just to sit in the sauna/ hot tub/locker room and enjoy the peace and quiet!

    • Sounds wonderful…. Thanks for the addition. I’m feeling that tension wash away just thinking about it. I like the idea of joining a gym, telling everyone that I go 3 – 4 times a week, and really just sit in the hot-tub. That’s a perfect way to work out in my book! Mama K

  2. Love this post esp “year of mama K!” Couldnt agree more with you on the need to do things for your own fulfillment but like you said it’s hard to find the time. Here’s a few more for your list
    – take a yoga class
    – get a henna tattoo
    – get a coffee and one of those those trashy magazines- people, Us weekly, etc and sit outside & read
    -outsource – this isn’t so much for self fulfillment as much as it is for keeping me sane. It’s my new mantra- can’t do it all so I outsource as much as possible. House cleaning, dog walking, and sometimes laundry…all outsourced. If it buys me an extra hour each day so I can do any of the things on your list then it’s worth it!

    • Mama D!
      Yes I love your entries! Thank you! I was actually thinking of yoga lately. The “outsource” piece was going to be a whole topic that I write soon in my “Staying Sane” series. And believe it or not…. I actually got a tattoo several months ago. It’s the symbol from this website. That started the whole project going. I was in New Orleans and felt the need to get a tattoo about the meaning of motherhood. Me and a friend found this Celtic symbol in 5 minutes from doing research on her phone and then 20 min later I had it on my shoulderblade. I am branded as a Mama In Motion for life!!!!!! Thanks for your ideas and am so happy you reached out! Mama K!

  3. 42. Go on facebook! These little spurts are like my current day cigarette breaks.
    43. Getting a babysitter is rare for us so we invite another couple with thier kids over. Parents drink, kids play- it’s like a playdate with booze!


  1. […] I did not participate in it since I’m trying to tone down my shopping sprees. I KNEW that if I started with holiday shopping for kids (rational purchases), I would go overboard with items for myself (irrational purchases, considering the amount of stuff I’ve purchased for myself over this last year — refer to my post “Staying Sane:  41 ideas for yourself”). […]

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