Monday, January 25, 2010

Recharging Your Engines (in 30 Minutes or Less)

I've learned a lot of useful skills over the past three months since Ryan was born. One-handed typing, for instance. The art of the three-minute shower. Picking things up with my feet. Positioning a bottle with my teeth. Singing in my sleep (I think). But the most useful set of skills I've developed has to be the ways I've found to recharge my engines in less than 30 minutes.

Those readers who have children understand the 30-minute window. Naptime that lasts for several hours is reserved for crucial things like laundry, running errands (if the baby is a car-napper), and the occasional REAL nap. But it's during the shorter catnaps that you can snatch a few minutes for yourself without feeling guilty. I suspect every mom has her own list of things that refresh her and re-energize her to get through the rest of the day, but here are a few of the things I've discovered that work for me.

A 30-minute bubble bath. Incredibly hot water, an absurd amount of girly-scented bubble soap, a cushy neck pillow, the radio set to a classical station, and a paperback copy of Shakespeare, and I'm in heaven for half an hour. It doesn't matter that there are rubber duckies in all colors of the rainbow lined up on the side of the tub watching me. It doesn't matter that I'll have to rinse carefully so that Ryan doesn't get a mouthful of soapy-tasting boob the next time I feed him. It doesn't even matter that I know I may have to wait another week or more to finish the tale of Romeo or Viola or Petruchio. It just matters that for 30 minutes it's pretty much all about me and my comfort.

Another favorite is a big steaming mug of flavored coffee or herbal tea or cocoa with whipped cream and a piece of toast with cinnamon sugar sprinkled on it, enjoyed at the kitchen table watching the birds at the bird feeders. I even sometimes get my brain going by researching new birds with my electronic birdsong book or my faithful Peterson's Guide. The peace of nature warms my soul while my beverage of choice is warming my body all the way down to my toes.

Speaking of warmth, how about 30 minutes spent snuggled under a fluffy blanket just listening to music? (Okay, maybe catnapping a little, too. But mostly listening to music.) Grownup music, that is. Nothing with lyrics about holes in buckets or the bottom of the sea, or little old ladies eating bugs and livestock, or three little fishies/ducks/pigs/bears. Just music that soothes me the way the buckets and bugs and bears soothe Ryan.

And last but not least, I have to admit my favorite 30-minute guilty pleasure: cable TV reality shows. Not the cool competitive shows like Survivor or the Amazing Race or even Hell's Kitchen, but the really cheesy low-budget ones like Say Yes to the Dress, What Not to Wear, I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant, and Bridezillas. I suspect the reason I enjoy them so much is that they make me feel so well-adjusted, personable, and well-dressed. I never threw a temper tantrum while planning my wedding. I've never worn my mom's hand-me-down 1980s power suit to a job interview. I've never thought I had food poisoning and discovered in the emergency room that I was in labor with a baby I didn't know I was having. I may still be in my pajamas at 2 in the afternoon eating peanut butter toast as my first meal of the day, but I've still got it together more than these people.

So when Ryan goes down for a nap that I know is destined to be short-lived, I know what I need to do to fill that time and recharge myself for the rest of the day. And since he's falling asleep in my arms right now, I'd better wrap this up. I'm pretty sure I can find an episode of Tabatha's Salon Takeover on somewhere.

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