Before I had baby O, I couldn't understand parents' need for "baby free time". Now. I. Do. But it isn't always easy to get a break. Once a week on a Saturday, I dress up in non-accessible clothing (I breast feed), pop a pretty choking hazard around my neck (O eats everything at the moment, so around him I can only wear my silicone teething necklace from here), give my fellas a kiss goodbye and head off to the exciting adventure of a coffee and the grocery shop (on a mega exciting day, I like to head to Bunnings as well, usually to buy plants I never get to cultivate). Here's where I confess that, despite how fiercely I love my husband and son, I don't spend this time pining for them. Sure, if I'm out with a girlfriend, all I talk about is O, until, like a needle on a broken record, they can lift me out of it, but the point is I am having "me time" (again, a concept that was foreign to me before motherhood). But some weeks this little jaunt really doesn't cut it; like when my tiny one is teething, or growing, or whatever crazy shit is going on that makes him wake frequently overnight and cry for the better half of a day. So I've come up with a list of ways to get more time alone; remember, these are to be used in case of emergency (defined as when you want to run and hide under the house. Yes, with all of the spiders):
- Schedule a root canal: Sure, they're expensive, but you really do get what you paid for: a couple of hours per appointment and whinging rights (they don't actually hurt, but either your spouse hasn't had one, or he's had the boy version - a little like man flu - and so can't argue when you need a lie down when you get home).
- Commit a minor offense: Aim for something small enough so that you are tied up in the police station for a few hours, but that if someone did a police check you could explain away with an amusing anecdote or tale of self-sacrifice. You may need to do a little homework first; this isn't one of those "trial and error" things (ha - no pun intended!).
- Start an argument with your partner: Make sure you a) have a spare bed or at least a futon; b) are completely unreasonable and insanely wrong, so you are the one who has to sleep on the couch. This really only works if you have your baby in your room with you, although if the spare room is out of earshot of the nursery, you're good.
- Take up a sport: I know the last thing you want to do is anything physical, since your body is aching from the combination of little sleep, poor diet and carrying around a baby who thinks the world is ending when you leave the room to pee, but it will be worth it. It's probably not possible to feel like anymore of a train wreck, and at least you will get outdoors. If you can find a club 30 minutes away, and something that has monthly competitions, even better. Bonus if it's something like Tae Kwan Do where you can kick the shit out of something.
- Get a job/go back to work: There are these great places filled with nice people who are willing to care for your child in a stable, structured environment. They'll even feed them and change their nappies! Pop junior into childcare, and head off to work where someone else can dictate your life for a change. Try for somewhere with a coffee machine, or at least a decent vending machine within 20 paces. Don't forget to take your bag of change with you into work each day. Ooh, and make sure it's a job with sick leave or carers leave, because the first 12 months bubba will be a petri dish of whatever virus is flavour of the month at child care.
- Cause a minor car crash: This can be hard to get right, and carries with it the risk of your spouse losing it, or the person you hit flying into road rage. Have some pent up anxiety and stress on standby, so you can turn on the water works before they can say, "bloody women drivers!". Try to clip the car of a man, a kindly old lady, or another mum with kids (careful with this last one; you don't actually want to hurt anyone), then let fly with, "oh, I'm sorry! It's just that my baby is so (insert sympathy-inducing noun here)". Have a few pictures of your gorgeous tiny one on your phone on stand-by (I'm sure you'll have one or two). Again, this could end up in a police file somewhere, so crash with care. Oh, and this probably goes without saying, but make sure you're on your own and you haven't bought ice cream; you'll be busy for a while. For extra time off, drink 7 coffees at Maccas before you get home and blame the shakes on the accident.