If you’re a mom, especially with younger children at home, you’re in high demand. While you probably wouldn’t change that for the world, you sure could use a break. Am I right?
Until you’re able to experience that dream weekend getaway with room service and lots of alone time—I know I’m not the only mom who dreamed of this—you’d be surprised at how effective very small breaks throughout the day can be at maintaining your energy, stabilizing your mood, and carrying you through until bedtime.
Here are four ways to take a mommy time-out.
Early Morning Ritual
First thing in the morning, before the kiddos awaken, is a golden time. If you can get yourself up early enough to savor the quiet of the morning, a cup of hot coffee, and time to just think, the rest of the day seems to be easier to handle.
It can be tempting at this time of day to get a jump on the laundry or other household chores. It can also be just as easy to get lost on your phone, scrolling away the precious minutes you have to yourself.
Instead, create for yourself a morning ritual that brings you joy, that you look forward to, and that makes you want to wake up even earlier. Perhaps you’ll read something inspirational, write in your journal, sit outside to simply enjoy the sights and sounds of nature, or whatever truly brings you joy and optimism first thing each day. Even a night owl may find themselves adjusting their schedule so as not to miss out on what can be a wonderful and life-giving part of every day.
Nap Time Rule
You’ve likely heard the advice, “nap when they nap.” Well, that may or may not be the best thing to do when your young children go down for a nap. It can be helpful, though, to set up rules for yourself to follow during nap time.
If you would genuinely benefit from a short nap in the middle of the day, by all means, take one. However, you may find that an afternoon coffee on your porch is more renewing or that checking some items off of your to-do list makes you feel lighter and accomplished.
Think about how you can best serve yourself during nap time, and make it a rule that you take care of you during that period.
Pressure Relief Valve
Sometimes the demands on mom can feel too overwhelming. If you find yourself getting frustrated, resentful, or angry during the day, have a plan in place to give yourself a real time-out. Make sure the kids are in a safe space—perhaps a bouncy seat or playpen for very little ones, or a room they’re secure in for older kids—and allow yourself to step away for a few minutes. You can give them a toy or activity to occupy themselves.
Whether you head to your bedroom or bathroom, or step outside your door for a breather, allow yourself the time to calm down, be kind to yourself, and reset. Remind yourself of the important work you’re doing and how blessed you are to have your family and these responsibilities. When you return, consider your nutritional needs. Have you eaten today? Do you need some water? Take care of yourself. If your kids are content where they are, allow them to just be while you give yourself a breather.
After the children go to bed, you’re plain exhausted. It can feel like the only energy you have left is to flop on the couch and let the television take over.
However, this time presents another opportunity to nurture yourself. Before you flop, take just a few minutes to think about what would best serve you tomorrow. Is the kitchen cleaned up? Is the laundry at a good stopping point? Do you need to prepare something for yourself or the children tomorrow? Would it help to take a look at the calendar and note any appointments on the horizon?
Also take the time to take care of yourself physically. Any nighttime self-care routine that supports you should be undertaken before you crash for the night. Take care of yourself like you’ve cared for your family all day.
Motherhood is both challenging and rewarding. It becomes even more challenging when moms forget to take care of the one doing all the mothering. These investments in time aren’t selfish but beneficial to the entire household. Whenever you need it, take a mommy time-out.