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Jenna von Oy’s Blog: The Importance of Mommy Me-Time

11/15/2012 at 09:00 PM ET

Celebrity blogger Jenna von Oy is a new mama!

Best known for her roles as Six on Blossom and Stevie on The Parkers, von Oy is also a musician who has released two albums and is set to publish a book, The Betweeners.

von Oy, 35, wed Brad Bratcher on Oct. 10, 2010, and resides in Nashville with her husband and five dogs.

They welcomed their first child, daughter Gray Audrey, on May 21. She is now almost 6 months old.

In her latest blog, von Oy reflects on the important of taking time for yourself.

You can find her on Facebook and Twitter @JennavonOy, as well as posting on her weekly blog, The Cradle Chronicles.

Jenna von Oy's Blog: The Importance of Mommy Me-Time
Gray and I – attached at the hip! – Courtesy Jenna von Oy

Any mom who tells you she absolutely never has alone time is either lying or damn-near ready to be fitted for her straightjacket! I must admit it is getting increasingly more difficult to find time for myself in the midst of the madness. Now that Gray is almost six months old, it seems as though her naptime is getting shorter and shorter with each day that passes. Consequently, it is difficult to attend to my daily “chores.”

There are mornings I long for a shower so badly that I could wail my way through an entire box of tissue, though I concede it might be better spent cleaning off the drool and snot. And while I’m certain the lingering Eau de Spit-up is attractive all on its own, some days I simply look in the mirror, huff audibly, and decide a combination of deodorant and perfume will just have to do.

It’s the perfect accompaniment to my sweatpants, T-shirt, and un-brushed hair, I suppose. (I might have refrained from admitting all of that aloud, if I didn’t suspect many of you could say the same!)

We’ve all seen the candid photographs of celebrities out shopping with their kids, nursing a latte in one hand while pushing a stroller with the other. I am befuddled by the folks who manage to look eternally composed during those outings! Apparently, I am not a card-carrying member of the calm, cool and collected club. I’m thankful the paparazzi aren’t as prevalent here in Nashville, as I undoubtedly wouldn’t fair as well.

But it’s the life of a mother, isn’t it? It’s wonderful and, simultaneously, dirty work. And it’s no secret that I love it, despite my current inability to remain clean for longer than two consecutive minutes. If showering is so abysmally tough to conjure up the time for, exercising the right to have some “mommy me-time” is as farfetched as a cow jumping over the moon. (Or anything jumping over the moon, for that matter…)

But it’s an absolute necessity — for all of us! None of us is exempt from the urge to take a few moments to regroup. Warning: our sanity may be at stake if we don’t!

I know, I know, “me-time” sounds like a miracle, to say the least … something akin to winning the lottery twice or seeing the Virgin Mary on a loaf of Wonder bread. If shaving my legs has become a thing of the past, you ask, how can I possibly find time to do something relaxing such as curling up with a good novel or sipping tea in front of the bay window? The simple (but, as you know, not so simple at all) answer is: you make time. For your sake and the sake of your children!

I certainly don’t purport to be mother-of-the-year, nor am I an authority on the subject; I just know my own innate thirst for serenity. It’s imperative. Consider it this way: a car requires gas or it risks stalling in the middle of a busy intersection, right? Without refueling, I find myself doing much the same thing. My frustration levels peak and I fear I can’t be an effective parent.

Mind you, I’m painfully aware that this is easier said than done. Like most of you out there, I don’t have a nanny or easily found babysitters. My parents and in-laws don’t live close enough to stop by at a moment’s notice so they can take care of Gray while I “luxuriate.” Not to mention, separation anxiety has begun to rear its ugly head lately — for both Gray and I. I barely have enough time to get my work done, much less rest!

I am my child’s full-time guardian, so my time is devoted to her … and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Having the ability to spend each day with Gray is something I feel both blessed and passionate about. But everyone has a desire for some time to themselves, including yours truly, and I expect that the future will prove it harder and harder to come by.

How would you bide your time if you had one hour a day to do anything you wish? Forget laundry, or sweeping the floor, or feeding the dogs, or eating lunch. Those are all necessities. I’m referring to one solid hour for something that makes you take a deep breath and unwind.

Jenna von Oy's Blog: The Importance of Mommy Me-Time
Writing my blog – Courtesy Jenna von Oy

If I had my druthers, I might spend my me-time sipping a gorgeous glass of Chateau Margaux and whipping up a Cassoulet. Cooking is my therapy, so I’d chop and mince to my heart’s content! I might light some candles and draw a bubble bath, hit up the vintage stores, pen a new song, or work on editing my book for publication (which, sadly, I’ve been neglecting for months now). I might even knit a shawl or begin a photography project.

It all sounds dreamy but, alas, I know none of those things are in the cards any time soon. Don’t get me wrong — my husband is amazing at taking care of our little one for a while in the evenings so I can get a few things accomplished — but lo’ and behold, that obligatory shower generally wins out in the election process! I imagine you can sympathize.

And I don’t want to ignore the fact that my husband should have some downtime as well. He gets up at 5:00 every morning and works until 5:00 in the evening. Daddies need quiet time too! Sometimes, to take the edge off, we try to combine household projects with activities we enjoy.

For instance, Brad often fires up his iPod with a favorite music list and mows the lawn. Combining the outdoors with tunes and physical labor makes him zone out blissfully. Other times, he irons while watching political discourse on his computer. Of course, I can’t swear this relaxes him, per se. I’m often surprised his work shirts don’t have holes burned into them in the shape of certain outspoken, ostentatious commentators. That said, at least he’s found a way to enjoy the mundane task at hand.

My mom recently flew in to visit us for two weeks and I can’t express how grateful I was for her assistance. She offered that my husband and I take advantage of her presence by doing a few things for ourselves. As heartbreaking as it was to leave our daughter for an hour or two, we took her up on it and went on a beautiful dinner date.

I also got to do something special that I’ve been hungering for … I had a massage!!!! I’d set aside some money I received for my birthday in May, and swore I’d eventually get around to using it for that purpose alone. Talk about quality “me-time!” I almost wept with relief as the massage therapist worked my shoulders and back. Breastfeeding definitely takes its toll! It was an incredible blessing to enjoy such an extravagance, and I can’t thank my mom enough for making it possible.

It has been a bit of a struggle, but I’m learning to appreciate and accept the help that is offered to me. I want to be Supermom, but I know sometimes that means allocating some time to concentrate on my own peace of mind. I’m often too quick to turn down proposals of assistance, because I fret about taking advantage of friends or family. I worry it means I “can’t handle” my own life. But that’s probably just my ego talking.

Hearing about a growing number of women with postpartum depression makes me recognize my own demand for quietude. Reserving personal time for my needs is crucial for my health and helps to cut down on my stress level. This means I can be a better mother to my daughter and a more supportive wife to my husband.

I’m not even remotely claiming to be a doctor, but I imagine most of them would be avid proponents of mommy me-time … even when it is tough to come by. Sometimes I think the most selfless thing you can do is concentrate on yourself for a few minutes. It may seem counterintuitive, but it allows you to attack the day with a sense of calm. I can certainly speak to that. I know I’m a more confident and even-keeled parent when I have a few minutes to recharge my emotional batteries!

In a way, contributing to this blog (as well as my weekly blog, The Cradle Chronicles) has become an integral part of my me-time maintenance. I covet the moments I am able to devote to purging my thoughts onto paper. If you’re wondering why my posts are typically so long-winded, there’s your answer! I long for the moments spent furiously typing away on my laptop. This has become a comforting creative outlet that I treasure, and I appreciate you being a part of it with me.

Jenna von Oy's Blog: The Importance of Mommy Me-Time
Reading with Ruby – Courtesy Jenna von Oy

Wishing you all a few moments of blissful respite this week…

Until next time,

– Jenna von Oy

More from Jenna’s PEOPLE.com blog series:

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Showing 29 comments

Hea on

That is one adorable baby!

Libby on

Just LOVE your blog! Your daughter is SO sweet & I appreciate how your family does normal day-to-day activities like the rest of us ie: how your husband irons & mows the yard & how getting a massage was such a luxury. Thanks for sharing!

MA momma on

Jenna, wonderful blog! It doesn’t get easier as they get older, you are right in that assumption.

It is inevitable that when I actually manage to steal a quiet moment for myself with my favorite magazine, one or both of my daughters come running up looking for something. Now, my husband could be sitting in his recliner, looking up a recipe online and they won’t bother him, but they come to me and since he’s so engrossed in his activity, I get to put down my magazine and calmly figure out what everyone else’s needs are.

It is so important to try and take the time for ourselves as mommies but it’s definitely not easy. Happy Thanksgiving!

MommytoanE on

I agree…one sweet, adorable lil girl Gray is.

I remember trying to make time for ME when my daughter was an infant. It seemed harder in infancy than as she got older. My favorite thing to do was stick her in a bouncy seat…and as she got older a baby…what are they called stationary walkers, or activity tables? I forget….either way I’d stick her in one of those…while I sang my heart out in the shower just to have that time every morning to get clean. As she grew, I began to see just how much she LOVED that time! I still remember the sweet sounds of her “singing” with me as she happily bounced and played.

It always felt selfish taking time to myself, but I realized if I didn’t, I would go insane. My girl gave up naps entirely at 15 months…if she napped, she was up ALL blasted night long. First few days were tough. I was used to that naptime to catch up on emails…or my favorite tv shows. But as time passed, it got easier and easier. Now that she’s 10, I can shower in peace while she happily plays in her playroom and I take that “me” time after she’s in bed at night. They really, truely do grow up so very fast.

Jen on

As always, your posts are spot-on and exactly what I need to hear. Thank you!

Blue Buddha on

I too love to cook, so to be able to do that I put my (now 10-month old) into his high chair with a few toys and bring him into the kitchen with me away from heat, water and danger. He enjoys watching me cook and I at least get to do something that doesn’t feel rushed. It’s not perfect, but right now it works.

If I had an hour to myself where I wasn’t working, cleaning or taking care of my son, I think I’d paint or go to the desert to photograph.

torgster on

I just want to squeeze those little chubby arms. She is one beautiful baby that’s for sure.

Kelley on

Love this. The hardest thing that nobody told me about when becoming a MOM was finding balance. It feels like the holy grail and always out of reach. I bide my time sewing and working as I am blessed to be able to run a business from home. Sewing and creating is my sanity and on occassion, my kids play next to me while I work.

Vanna on

I have a 2 1/2 year old and a 7-month old. I am a stay-at-home mom as well. I miss the “me-time” I use to have in the past. Jenna captured my thoughts… all of them. Sometimes after bathing the kids, taking a shower, and packing the diaper bag for a morning outing, I congratulate myself for pulling it together so we can exit the house. Being a stay-at-home mom is a full-time job, and if someone thinks otherwise, they should takeover for the day while you head out for a quiet lunch alone! I love my kids… but I never realized how hard begin a stay-at-home mom was going to be until I had kids.

valeskas on

Best thing about babies, their cute feet.

Kelsey on

Your baby is beautiful, I always love your blogs and pictures, thank you!

Anonymous on

Gray is darling but I must say, your dog just stole my heart! Absolutely precious!

SmiaVS on

I recognize the outfit in that first photo. Kate Quinn Organics? Their products are gorgeous. I hope they still exist, and that I can afford them when I have kids. :)

Skor on

After having my fourth child I was so very thankful for my Kindle. So much easier to handle while nursing and helped me unwind even while taking care of the baby. My oldest is 5 so the demands on my time from the kids is a challenge. Thankfully they all seem to sleep well and everyone has been in good health this fall so life with my little ones couldn’t be better!

Very thankful for my husband who lets me get some time to myself when I desperately need it. Now the only thing I’m craving is a chance to go on a date with him as babysitting for four including a nursing infant is a huge challenge. I don’t trust my kids to just anyone.

Thank you Jenna for the encouragement of knowing I’m not alone.

cole on

Now that my little one just turned 7 months, I’m also in the same struggle of less napping vs. time to do anything. Luckily, she loves watching Sesame Street, so that hour of her having fun watching Elmo is now my go-to when I need a little break for myself. God forbid you interrupt her during her show. Plus, I think it’s just as important for her to have a little time to herself with me out of her view to experience a little independence (and she is very much independent… she’ll slap your hand away if you try to hold a bottle for her these days). I couldn’t agree more that having some me-time is crucial, not just for mom, but for everybody.

Nina on

OMG-you are talking about me. But talking about you! I’m a single mom with a child with Autism, my parents live down south, my boyfriend makes the time he can and that’s it. IT’S SO HARD..but thanks for clarifying what we as all mothers tend to forget-we can’t be good to others if we aren’t good to ourselves. :)

fanofboardwalkempire on

Gray is just beautiful and I so enjoy reading your blog. Everything you say makes such perfect sense to me! take that Mommy me time Jenna you know you need it to be the best that you can be! Sending hugs to the entire family!

laura chappe on

“I am my child’s full-time guardian, so my time is devoted to her … and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Having the ability to spend each day with Gray is something I feel both blessed and passionate about. But everyone has a desire for some time to themselves, including yours truly, and I expect that the future will prove it harder and harder to come by.” Congrats!

RMCRC on

That baby is precious! My #3 is almost 6 months old. Sweet age. I’m confused tho, I’m able to get up, shower and shave, do my hair, pack lunches, get two kids to 2 different schools all with baby in tow. Maybe you just need better time management in order to get yourself together. I don’t have any help either. My hubs works 80 hrs a week. I thought 1 child was a friggin breeze……I dunno. I get up really early so I have some time to myself.

kazumi on

RMCRC, maybe you’ve had a lot of practice that’s why things are easier for you, with my first, i felt like jenna, not having time for myself and i feel like everything is a mess, and then when I had my second child, things were a lot easier because i knew what to do or maybe, i knew what to expect so i did things at my own pace

jules on

Totally agree. Getting up early for alone time is a great suggestion. I remember with my first child thinking I never had time for showers or naps but you really do. It’s all about organization.

Julianna on

The first picture is just adorable – I love the shade of Gray’s eyes, and she’s looking more and more like her father. The third one is precious, Ruby looks so attentive reading with her mommy!

I love your style of writing, Jenna, and I hope you carry on blogging for a long time, be it here or in your personal blog!

Christina on

Gray is such a cutie! My little boy is 2 1/2, but I remember those days when he was younger. For me, it’s gotten easier to have me-time now that he’s older. He doesn’t put things in his mouth anymore, so that’s one less thing I have to worry about.

Also, he’s learned how to entertain himself more. He’ll play with his cars or watch a movie. I take advantage of that time, and I’ll read or play on the internet. Of course, he’s still attached to his mommy and needs me, but not quite as much as before.

My husband and I also take advantage of bedtime. After our little one is asleep, if we aren’t too tired, we’ll snuggle up and watch a movie or have a glass of wine. I’m glad we established a regular bedtime for him at a young age. Treasure each moment! They grow up fast!

NW Mama on

Wow, she is 6 months already, see how the time goes oh so very quickly.

Things will get easier when as she gets older and starts to do her own thing with out mommy, which is also heartbreaking. Always try to find that mommy time, because when your at your best everyone wins…. best line ever! I was fortunate to have my mom take my kids for 24hrs every other weekend. Which gave my husband and I a much needed break. The kids got to be close with their gradparents as well, and always had a good time. My girl’s are 5 years apart so my oldest was always a big help with her sister, and the more experienced you become as a mom, the easier it gets. The precious rewards are in your children!

Keep writing Jenna, love your blog!!!!!

Big kisses to her tiny little feet!!!! oh, and a soft squeeze for that pup as well! Thanks Jenna

donndane on

She has got to be the cutest celebrity baby ever. What a doll!

Kim on

LOL – like the paparazzi gives a damn about shooting Six from Blossom. Get over yourself.

Rachael on

How about those of us that actually have to work everyday? My daughter was born exactly 2 weeks before hers. I get myself showered and dressed and my seven month old daughter dressed and fed all before 7:15am. We leave the house by 7:20am and Jenna can’t even find the time to shower???!!

Anonymous on

She is so adorable…May God keep her always close to you:)

Sharlene on

I loved your blog Jenna. And I’m really disheartened to read the last few comments on this board. You’re sharing with us your personal experience, no one else’s and I applaud you for it. I too am an at-home mom. My oldest is 4 years old and the youngest is 7 months. These quiet moments when I can peruse the Mommy blogs really helps in knowing I’m not alone in some of my experiences. And I completely understand about not getting in a shower everyday! :-) With all we women are expected to do and all the insane parenting expectations it’s easy to forget our needs. Thanks for reminding me! Best wishes for smooth sailing!

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