How do I get a break as a Busy Mom? Mommy Breaks are a wonderful thing. Being a mom sometimes feels like a long distance race, and we all need time to recharge for a few minutes from time to time. Have you ever tried to take a Mommy Break and found that you honestly really felt no better afterwards? For example, one day when I was just feeling done, I watched my son empty the bookshelf because I was too exhausted to to even think of sitting down to train him on how to put the books back in anymore. So, while he emptied it, I ate my candy bar. I stood there thinking, “Sure, I’m calmer now, but I also have a huge mess to clean up and I’m just as tired as I was before!” Then, in a moment I had a revelation: “This is not rest; this is a timeout….rest needs to be restorative.” This thought was revolutionary to me. Rest needs to be restorative or it’s not rest! Wow! Actually, there is some solid research on the necessity of rest particularly for moms. Check out this article for more on that.
Rest vs. Timeouts
Me watching my son empty the bookshelf was a timeout. Timeouts are just that, a brief timeout to let yourself calm down or gather your thoughts to try again. Timeouts are an important tool in your mommy tool chest, but they don’t replace rest. Actually, in an ideal world you would take a rest break before you got to the point of needing a timeout because timeouts generally come with a bit of a cost (for example cleaning up the books all over the floor). The benefit of the timeout comes from what it prevents. In my case, I didn’t yell at my son or cry about my failures in child training. I took a timeout, calmed down and then started again.
Plan for Rest
We all know carving out time (whether its a few minutes or an hour) for a Mommy Break is hard so let me encourage you to pick something that actually does restore you physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. Truly restorative rest usually takes a little bit of energy to setup. Don’t wait till you’re teetering on the edge of needing a timeout! Easy to say, but yes, I wait this long more often than I like to admit! Setting up a Mommy Break for me might look like this: Stopping my son from destroying the bookshelf, settling him with a new toy or even a Winnie the Pooh episode and then curling up on the sofa to read a wonderful book.
Other times, it’s putting everyone in the stroller for a walk or sitting by the kiddie pool and talking to my sister on the phone. Some afternoons it’s sleeping during that 30-minute window when both my kids are actually sleeping! Or meeting up with someone to swap babysitting so I can workout. It doesn’t matter what the activity is as long as it restores you and isn’t something you regret later. Like drinking so much caffeine that you are up all night. Or helping your toddler destroy the bookshelf!
When you need a Mommy Break here are some ideas to start brainstorming with. Remember that what is really restful for some moms can be the exact opposite for another mom! Be true to who you are!
With the Kids Home
- Get Outdoors – go for a walk or to the pool together
- Watch the kids play at the park
- Put on a kid movie, lay on the couch and relax for a few minutes
- Read a good book while you nurse the baby
- Meet up with a friend for a children’s playdate
- Nap with the two-year-old
- Play a workout video on your laptop while the kids play with a new toy or join in with you
- Put the kids in the bathtub and sit down beside the tub and let your mind just rest
- Watch some funny youtube videos together (babies, puppies, etc.)
When the Kids are Asleep or Out With Someone Besides You
- Take a nice, long shower without the rush
- Workout – especially outdoors if possible
- Watch an episode of your favorite TV show or a few scenes from a favorite movie
- Fix a cup of your favorite tea or coffee
- Clean a closet – yes, for some this is amazingly therapeutic
- Scrub the floors – my friend’s go-to way to clear her brain and release stress
- Have a girls’ chat with a friend
- Read a chapter or two out of a book
- Walk the mall, Target or a fun downtown spot
- Get outdoors for a relaxing walk – at the office this became a must for my lunch break
- Sleep – no explanation needed!
- Fix yourself a nice meal – cranberry chicken salad is a personal favorite
At last, if all else fails…next time you are pumping gas and the kids are safely buckled into the van…take a moment. You have a good 3-5 minutes while the gas is pumping to lean up against your car, close your eyes, breathe deeply and be all by yourself!
Let us know what fun ideas you have for restorative rest on your Mommy Breaks!
Mommy Medicine is a group of moms that love sharing tricks, tips and strategies with our fellow moms, so send us your mommy questions you would like to see as the subject of a blog. We would love to hear from you! Subscribe here to receive posts straight to your inbox!
Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (9/22/2018) Francesca Hotchin (Flickr)