Do you date yourself?
Everyone talks about date nights, how to fit them in, why they are important to relationship building.
Maybe you have even implemented family date nights or individual dates with your kids to give them the extra attention when things get hectic. We try to work those into our calendar too.
But when was the last time you took yourself out on a date?
I was listening to my new pod obsession this week (Side note: if you have been around me in the last month you might have heard me reference the Forever35 podcast only 1324 times. I’m deep into it.) One of the guests, Rachel Wilkerson, mentioned she plans a regular date with herself. The date varies but whatever it is it is intentional focus on just herself, her growth, her self love and self care.
As she was talking I got to thinking about my annual birthday tradition. For as long as I can remember, I take my birthday very seriously. But a big part of this celebration is actually a day spent with my own thoughts, wonderings, muses, inspirations. As a mother, regardless of our work/life set up, separating our selves from the selves of our children is a struggle. I find this most challenging as an introvert but I don’t think this feeling is exclusive to this personality trait. Even those who are energized by social interaction need to realign their focus back to their own wishes and desires every now and then.
Would I like to do this day date with myself more often than just on my birthday? You bet I would. But the regularity of an entire day alone is not in my immediate future. That doesn’t, however, mean we can’t be more intentional about the time we can take for ourselves away from our family. It can happen all in a day if you are lucky but it doesn’t have to. A night away from the regular grind of your evening routine can be intentional. Maybe you can sneak away for a lunch or an early morning coffee.
The most important step here is to recognize this as a date. Take it seriously the way you might take a night out with a spouse. Plan it out. Put it on the calendar so you have something to look forward to. The intentional aspect of this date is the key to it feeling better connected to what you need in your life instead of the influences of everyone else around you.
Today I want to share how I spent my birthday self date, as well as share other ideas I have thought about that might fit more into your own individual schedules.
My ideal birthday starts at a coffee shop. I order the fancy coffee. I take pictures of the pretty latte art. And then I pull out a computer and or notebook and write out some thoughts. Because I need direction, I usually plan out what I want to write about or think about ahead of time so I don’t spend a majority of my time thinking “hmmm…what do I want to think about.” This comes from my awareness that time is precious. I probably was once much more relaxed about these musings. This year my goal was to think through my last year as a 36 year old to write out this post.
I also like to incorporate a creative field trip. Sometimes this includes an antique store or window shopping in that fancy boutique that I can’t afford anything but I still enjoy looking. This year I did a little something different and it was so fun. The Minneapolis Institute of Art was showcasing Art in Bloom event where local florists created floral arrangements inspired by paintings in the museum. It was completely free, and I had the added bliss of exploring a museum at my own pace not too fast, not too slow, and only stopping at the things I wanted to see. It was delightful. When was the last time you went to a museum alone? Of course this creative field trip is very individual to me but I encourage you to seek out something that heightens your senses, whatever that means to you. Maybe its a movie, a run in the park, a concert. Art and beauty are inspiring and calming in many forms.
Then it was time to eat. I shimmied up to a high bar stool, ordered a BLT and a mimosa, and read my book to the gentle sounds of the Sunday brunch crowd. Again, the solo bar seating situation is not limited to the introverts. My husband, the extrovert, will often take a seat at the bar so he can chat it up with the bar tenders or other social people at the bar who don’t have their noses in a book (me.) There is just something so Parisian about dining and drinking alone in the afternoon. I will do this when I am old and gray.
So that essentially concludes my birthday date. But I don’t feel like this is a formula you have to follow. Here are other things I am thinking of for future self dates.
Sheet mask + bath + new magazine night - I do this sometimes but more on a whim. Marking it on the calendar, particularly surrounding a challenging time in the future, might be a something to look forward to.
Trip to Target - Sure we do this one all the time. But plan a trip simply to peruse the beauty section. Grab a fun drink before you head in. Decide what you might be in search, the newest lip stain, a perfect eye cream, a fun sheet mask for your next date night with yourself. Don't just buy toilet paper or new shoes for the kids, unless that brings you great satisfaction. Make this trip count and be all about you.
Make a vision board - Grab a bunch of old magazines or borrow from friends or the library. Cut out pictures and words for what you want the next year to look like for you. This is great for new years, birthdays, or other new seasons of life. This one I planned on doing on my birthday weekend but I haven’t gotten around to yet. I still want to.
Fancy solo dinner in - When Mike is traveling I like to be intentional about my nights alone. It makes it something to look forward to instead of dread. I like to make dinner of a good cheese and crackers, something I rarely serve for the family. Or the take out place we rarely do. If you have a partner with specific diet needs, this is a good time to eat the things you never make.
Sneak in a date at the end of a work trip - Recently a friend shared with me the guilt and simultaneous joy she had from tagging a personal visit at the end of a long work trip. She hated being away from her children and the partner at home with them, but working parents need to remember to date themselves too. Maybe getting away in the week between work and home obligations seems to much. If you travel, think about building in personal time into that trip. It could be as simple as choosing your after work downtown wisely and selfishly like a really good steak and red wine. Or maybe stay one extra day and take advantage of the spa treatments, like my friend did. You will go home more refreshed, and maybe willing to offer a self date to your co-parent holding down the fort upon your return.
I want to make one final note of distinction about this date with yourself. Just like you wouldn't do work while on a date with your partner, you should also not be doing work while dating yourself. I love to escape to write. But I think of writing as my job. A job that doesn’t pay, but I do better when I see it as my job. Yes, I did write on my birthday day date. But I wrote with the freedom to reflect on my life. In fact, I ended up not opening up my computer at all and just using my journal, which is very different writing experience from my “work” life. Even if you love your job, you are not your job and you need to find this distinction.
I think it is really important to be sure that you are taking time to be alone with your own thoughts. Does this sound scary? Maybe. My thoughts can be really scary sometimes. But the separation from so many outside influences is a necessary step to our mental health every now and again. Only by quieting others can we listen to our own true selves. And every good date should include some good listening time.
So tell me, how do you intend to spend your date with yourself?