Taking a Break: for mothers
simple ways to re-set
I'm guessing you're here because 1) you want to take time for yourself, but don't know how (without the guilt) or 2) you thought I'd be talking about Ross and Rachel's break from Friends. I mean....maybe?
Either way, I'm honored to have snuck into part of your day. My hope is this gives you some encouragement and new ways of assuring you can create space for yourself and continue doing the mom-thing you're actually rocking right now.
Let's cross something off the list before we dive in while I have you here:
Comparison is the leader of thieve's - stealing our energy, contentment and ability to accept what we have in front of us is good enough.
It's easier now more then ever to have a preview into someone else's parenting and create the closing captions for the spaces that aren't shown online. We may compare the clothing their kiddos wear in their stories to our own, expect the calm posture captured in family photos as the standard, and translate their vacation level as the expectation for everyone no matter the level of debt you could get into.
However way we write the play, we all have our battles - they look different, and we portray them differently, but we have them.
It doesn't matter for how long, or what the intensity level is - there's no one-size fits all manual for how to take care of a small human (or multiple) while also taking care of ourselves. Not everyone feels the struggle of comparison with motherhood - but if that sounds like you, you're not alone and there's no need for it. You're the only mother for your kiddo(s), and they need you to do what you can, not what someone else is doing.
If you start to imagine someone else as having their "breaks" all figured out - that might be the case, to be honest. Some mom's could have their own rhythms figured out - but we shouldn't be bitter about it. Instead, we could be applauding them, and aspire to do something that works for our own situation and lifestyle.
Breaks are not going to look like how we want every day - trips to the Caribbean would be fantastic, but not suitable for my life at the moment.
One more thing: you're not a "bad mom" for wanting a break sometimes. You're human, it's something to get used to.
Though there are mother's and mother figure's out there who fit the bill - and though I don't know you - I'm pretty sure you don't qualify. With the struggles of caring for our kiddo(s), managing other responsibilities life calls us into - it's nearly impossible to set time aside to be alone or do what we want to re-charge.
Though I wish I could, I can't promise that your worries, fears, anger, frustration, confusion and guilt from parenting will vanish when you include any of the following practices into your daily rhythms.
What I can tell you is by putting these things into action, we lessen the blow of the lack of energy or ability we have to say, "I can mom today".
I believe we can turn the depleting thoughts of "I'm not enough, I can't do this, this is too hard, I want to quit" into affirming truth's of, "I was chosen for this, I am in love with this child, I will lean into the hardships and learn alongside them as we go".
So.....how are we supposed to catch a breath or take a break?
Though what you do specifically depend on personal preference (duh) - I have a few suggestions that will fit into any schedule - open or scarce.
Give me a break (no, really)
When: Time's to Consider Sneaking in Mom-Time
If you're not a fan of waking up in the early hours of the day before the kid's wake up, may I be that extra voice in your head that says it is well worth the struggle in the first couple of weeks.
These early hours are so precious - yet so freaking hard to get up for, right?
I get it - sometimes they wake up at 6:00am (or even earlier). Can you guess what my response is? Set that first alarm for 4:30am. I say "first" because there's a big chance that you'll click snooze once or twice and end up getting out of bed a little after 5am. And if you end up getting up at 4:30am - great! more time to start your day the way the fills you up.
Nap Time Wonders
I know this doesn't apply to everyone as they eventually grow out of nap time (say it ain't so).
During nap time, most of us find this as a chance to tidy up the house or do some "at-home" errands - why not, right?
Sure, if you're not hangry, irritated at the wind or drained altogether. If any of those apply to your situation once the babe's head hits the bed, the dishes can be done later (it can also just be done when they're awake - they'll be fine).
Let's be honest - children like snack time more than meal time (okay, so do I).
Enter "snack-tivites" - a time where they can eat some fan favorite's while working on an activity designated just for snack time.
One of the things we do with Sequoia is give her a cupcake tin and her animal magnets and she puts the magnets anywhere on the upside down pan at the table, couch or the floor (wherever snack time happens to be).
This can give you at least 5-10 minutes - doesn't sound like a lot, but all of the below suggestions (and whatever else you already do to unwind) can definitely be squeezed in.
Aside from assuring your babe isn't causing complete and utter chaos, you can pour another cup of coffee, hydrate, catch up with a friend, read an article, or laugh at a funny video or two.
How: Realistic Way's to Re-charge
Include them in what you Love
When we get to do what we love on our own - oh, the bliss.
But as you are well aware of, we don't get that much time to ourselves as we wish. So when you're in deep need of doing a little something that would help make the day feel better (i.e. help you feel better), include your kid's in on it. For example, if grabbing some iced tea or coffee at your favorite coffee shop would shift your perspective on the day, go for it. I find that it's more so the act of getting out of the house then it is the beverage itself that helps my mindset shift.
If it's going on a nature walk, perfect! There's something for everyone to enjoy when mama deems it so.
When they get fussy - as humans usually do when they are being brought into something they typically don't want to, simply bring some snacks, water, toys, games - the works. And explain that this is what's happening, you understand their frustrations, and mommy needs to get out.
Who knows - they may come to love what you love, too.
Dance Party for 1? I think yes.
Wasn't planning on including this one at all. But since I had myself a mini dance party to Hillary Duff's Most Wanted album the other day, I figured I'd share the greatness that is a dance party for one.
Why is this a good idea?
You're moving your body - getting those dopamine neurotransmitter's to work and your blood pressure rising, causing your mood to lift (or at least shift from the crappy sense it may have had before).
Put on your headphones, press play to your favorite dancing tunes and show off those embarrassing dance moves you only wished you show-cased at your middle school dance (but instead it's just for yourself, and maybe your significant other).
Add THIS to Your Rhythms
Whether in the morning, mid-day or the evening, this is something that has shifted my mindset, energy and ability to reset more easily.
Is it easy to do? No, it takes discipline as all things that challenge to grow us do.
Find yourself a notebook - nothing fancy (unless that's what you like, no pressure) - and write down 5 things you're grateful for in that moment. From throw pillows to that one thing your best friend said to you.
Alongside that, write down what your frustrated about. Yes, putting pen to paper about what we're thankful for does us so much good - and putting down what's bottled up in our heads about why we're worried, stressed, angry, bitter, sad or irritated about will do us some good, too.
Other little things to add to your next break
cold water exposure: splash some icy cold water on your face a few times, or hop in and out of a cold shower! Cold water therapy does wonders for our body and mind.
write a letter:doesn't have to be anything super long or detailed - a quick hello, I'm thinking of you hand written note to someone can shift perspective for you and brighten someone else's day, too
puzzles: don't knock it until you try it! Not all are the same - I personally only really enjoy sudoku puzzles. You have jigsaw, crossword, word search and so many others.
adult coloring book: Or anything else crafty you enjoy doing - but this adult coloring book is hilarious. It does have some "strong language" - just in case that's not your taste.
power naps: The saying "sleep when your child sleeps" is kind of obnoxious, though well-intended - so I'll say sleep when you feel like it ... and your kids are okay / have other supervision in the meantime. Take a quick 20-30 minute nap, and make a cup of tea to help the day move forward.
Friend - you're doing amazing - I know you might not feel it, but you are an incredible you, and an incredible mama for your little(s). We're doing sacred work - and in order for you to do what you are needed for, you deserve to take a break.