I have an addiction. I give into it just after 9 p.m. every night. The cravings come and go throughout the day but I hold off until my children are sound asleep in their beds. That’s when it’s all clear to indulge. In a bath. That’s right. I am a soap-sudding, warm water, floating junkie.
No matter how late it is or what time I have to be up the next morning, I have a bath before bed. If my day is tough, I find myself looking at the clock to calculate how much longer until I can run the water. I can turn the tap to the exact temperature without looking or testing. I can walk away and return at the exact time the tub is filled.
I thought I was a bath addict but now realize it has very little to do with the bubbles. It has everything to do with the fact that for 45 minutes out of the day, I am guaranteed to be alone.
I have had a bath every night for five years. That’s how old my son is. I think it started as survival mode. Breast feeding was hard, sleep training was torture and household work was never ending. But when I was in the tub, the door was locked and our very loud bathroom fan drowned out all my responsibilities. It was exactly what I needed to do it all over again the next day. A recharge. I love being a mom, but it’s reassuring to know that there will be a point in the day where I get to tap out and enjoy “me time.”
I am just doing what I’ve been told to do by nearly every mother I’ve met. Take time for yourself.
Now I am being told to get more sleep. My doctor doesn’t think I am well rested. Is any parent? She pitched all these great ways for me to sleep more; involve the kids in the chores that I am staying up late to do. Go to bed when they go to bed. Get up an hour before they get up and tackle things early. The entire time she was pitching my new schedule all I could think about was, ‘Where does my bath fit into this plan?’
I surveyed some friends on my quest to find out if you can have it all… alone time and sleep. Everyone I quizzed seemed to pick one or the other and surprisingly most picked sleep. I did find some trying to master both. As part of a New Year’s resolution, Morning News anchor Erin Chalmers challenged herself to do something for her, something grown up. She picked watching more television, shows that aren’t cartoons or newscasts. Because of her early morning start time she goes to bed with her sons, so her alone time has to be squeezed in somewhere. She picked an hour between morning and noon news and is watching Breaking Bad.
I think my 1,800+ baths since becoming a mom have made me a better parent and a better wife. I am more present when the kids are awake and I really enjoy my bedtime routine. So if I am a little tired, that’s OK.
My alone time greed is growing. For my birthday I have asked for 24 hours alone in my house. That should be plenty of time to feed my bath addiction and possibly develop a new one.