Back-to-School Basics for Mom: Recharge Your Relationships
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Back-to-School Basics for Mom: Recharge Your Relationships

The kids are back in school. Now what? After a summer packed with family vacations, outdoor activities, untold sleepovers, and all the "fun" that comes with being cast as a taxi driver, housekeeper, short-order cook, and referee during the hottest weeks of the year, it's time to recharge and reclaim your own life.

Even though homework, after-school clubs, and sporting events will fill your late afternoon and evenings, you can still find time to find yourself and revive your love life during this hectic season if you're crafty and creative. To find out what real women do to fill the void left by a half-day empty nest, we asked real moms what they do to reinvigorate when the first leaves of autumn begin to fall.

Love Your Children, Love Yourself

Beth Wakefield, 40, of Nashville, Tennessee, says she can be seen doing the "happy dance" as she's dropping off the children and heading out to get coffee at the corner market. "I love this time because I can have 'me' time which includes perfect quiet, completed thoughts, full sentences without being distracted or interrupted, lunch with friends, projects at home, and of course dedicated time at the computer to do my paid job as a meeting planner. I try to get all of my work done prior to the bus arriving each afternoon so I can focus completely on my children when they are home." A favorite activity that Beth says makes her the happiest is to venture out on a "field trip" with her best friend, which includes driving up to an hour away from home and exploring a new area, where the two lunch, shop, and catch up. "It is amazing how a few hours with your best girlfriend can make life better! I'm always re-energized as wife and as a mother."

Seriously, LOVE Yourself

Amy Dumas, 36, of Kauai, Hawaii, drops her two daughters off at school and thinks of a way to pamper herself for at least an hour before resuming her hectic schedule. She loves to take a walk on the beach or enjoy a long bath. "I would love to be able to go to a spa every day of the week, but that's not very realistic (according to my husband), but I think a monthly massage is helpful in relieving stress and increasing circulation so that you feel reinvigorated enough to put on your drill sergeant's hat when homework time rolls around." Amy also likes to play golf to unwind on the weekends with her husband. Of course, many of us don't live in a fabulous resort setting, but we can still heed Amy's advice. Take a stroll around the neighborhood with a friend who makes you laugh. Many spas hit hard by the recession offer during-the-week specials and less costly half-hour massages. If you live near a golf course (even if you don't play golf) try hitting balls at the driving range. It's a great place to let off steam after an unfortunate morning episode involving refusals to get up, lost shoes, and ear-splitting sibling squabbles.

Keeping Up Appearances

Hitting the salon is a good idea not just to escape your everyday routine, but for keeping yourself well-maintained for your own self-confidence and so that your partner still finds you attractive after three hours of soccer practice in the rain. Sure, economic times are tough, but you can always find time to paint your nails and toes and touch up your makeup (even just a little lipstick and mascara is better than nothing at all, even if you ARE Megan Fox). If you look good, you feel good. So lose the sweatpants and ponytail at the end of the day. If you both only have limited time at night, and the kids are everywhere, try to have some together time after the children are in bed. Invest in some pretty pajamas and cozy up on the couch to talk about your day while watching your favorite television show.

Make Time for Playtime with Your Partner

Liz Ramey, 41, of Mobile, Alabama, says that unlike the times she played hooky from high school as a teenager, "the only way I can get my place to myself is to call in sick and have a whole day of what I call 'Nooky Hooky.' It is not recommended to take this approach too often, but hey, swine flu is going around.... Couples may also consider planning a lunchtime rendezvous. Spice it up by meeting in a hotel room and surprise him with sexy lingerie and maybe some bold new moves. You'll feel like you're getting away with something sneaky, even if you meet at home. And you won't have to "keep it down" because of the kids. Remember, it's easy to fall into a sexual rut, particularly for busy couples who have been together for a long time. (Besides money, sex is the top reason for divorce in the U.S.) Toni Shirley, 43, of Temple, Georgia, says you have to literally "steal" time to be together. Since her husband works from 4 p.m. to midnight, the two enjoy making time for each other over breakfast. When the kids sleep over with friends on the weekend, they plan a special date night. "If it's important to spend time together, you will find a way. Because our time alone is limited, it just makes it more special when the opportunity arises."

Get Away from It All

Penny Surrett, 42, of Newnan, Georgia, plans an annual getaway with her husband without their two boys. "Since we've been married almost 20 years things can sometimes get a little boring, but we always take a trip alone together each year without the kids so that we can do whatever we want whenever we want." Penny also sets boundaries within her home. She provides a separate living area upstairs for her children to entertain themselves, complete with a mini-fridge to eliminate those constant visits to the kitchen for drinks and snacks.

Originally published on LHJ.com, September 2009.

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