Parenting is exhausting! But I think it’s our modern version of parenting that draws the energy right out of me. Sometimes I feel like if I’m not constantly playing, entertaining, and teaching, then I’m failing my children. The result is that my house is a mess, my stress is elevated, and I don’t even feel like I’m my own person. This type of parenting isn’t very sustainable or enjoyable. Let’s talk about breaks for Mom!
I’m working on trying to build some mini-breaks into my day. This is easy with Baby E as he likes to explore and destroy on his own. But I’ve had to work with Miss H on playing independently. This took some practice and patience! The biggest thing I had to work on was alleviating my mommy-guilt. Rest is not just for those who work outside the home! Not only that, but our kids will be better off if we don’t constantly entertain them. They can learn without us- isn’t that great news? Young children learn through play, and pulling them along from one structured activity to the next doesn’t count.
“The part of mother or teacher in the early years (indeed, all through life) is to sow opportunities, and then to keep in the background, ready with a guiding or restraining hand only when these are badly wanted. Mothers shirk their work and put it, as they would say, into better hands than their own, because they do not recognize that wise letting alone is the chief thing asked of them, seeing that every mother has in Nature an all-sufficient handmaid, who arranges for due work and due rest of mind, muscles, and senses.” Charlotte Mason, Home Education
So, without further ado, I’ve made a list of 15 things you can do to grab a break for yourself, even when you’re the sole person in charge of your children. Some of these may be a little more difficult to do with babies or multiple children in the house, but I hope that you can find a mini-break that works for you.
15 Breaks for Mom
1. Join a gym with childcare. Exercising is such a great way to relieve stress!
2. Invite a friend over. Our roughest time of day is from 4-6, before Nate comes home from work. Inviting a friend with kids over at this time allows me to talk to my friend while the kids are playing.
3. Go for a drive. A friend mentioned that when she’s feeling worn-out, she puts her toddler in the car and goes for a drive. She can listen to music and have a little bit of peace!
4. Wash dishes. It doesn’t sound restful to you? When things are chaotic, including our house, cleaning up a bit helps. I like washing the dishes the best during these times because I can focus on the sound of the water and the warm water is relaxing. (Is that just me?!)
5. Take a walk. Again, exercise is helpful. But I also enjoy this time because I can talk to Miss H without constantly being needed for something. We can just have an enjoyable chat about what we see, our plans for later, etc.
6. Read a book. I love reading, but I don’t get a lot of time for it these days. Sometimes I have a quiet reading time with Miss H (we haven’t done this while Baby E is awake, which would definitely complicate things!) She looks at books while I read. Not only is this a good mini-break, but modeling reading is key to creating future readers!
7. Join a group. Groups like Mops or church Bible studies often have childcare. This gives you a chance to enjoy some grown-up conversation while your kids have fun playing with friends!
8. Start coloring or journaling. I wanted to start Bible journaling, but hadn’t found the time. So today I set up camp at Miss H’s little table and offered to share with her my gel pens that she’d been eyeing. She sat and colored beside me while I wrote. This also works with grown-up coloring books!
9. Turn on music that you enjoy. Music seems to change our home atmosphere and relaxes each one of us- especially me! When I turn on music, Miss H happily dances while Baby E bounces in his jumper- which gives me a chance to tidy up, make dinner, or rest.
10. Order out. There’s no shame in scrapping the dinner plan and ordering out every once in awhile! Even if the budget’s tight, you can be prepared for nights when it seems like putting dinner on the table will be impossible by buying a frozen pizza ahead of time (which is still healthier than lots of take-out options!)
11. Go somewhere you enjoy. Every outing doesn’t have to be for our kids! It’s good for them to learn how to exist in adult environments. A trip to Target, a museum, or even Starbucks offers a good change of pace.
12. Take advantage of meal times. Once your child can (safely) eat on their own, try using a meal time for a morning devotion, to read a magazine, or get in any other reading you want to do. (Note: if you have older children and this is a habit that you don’t want develop, maybe skip this one!)
13. Get outside! We love playing outside at our house. But it took me awhile to figure out that it’s best to just let Miss H play and explore without my constant guidance (see my post about it here).
14. Plan a date night. Sometimes just planning a night out makes me feel more rested! It gives me something to look forward to, and it’s nice to show my husband that I’m putting the effort into our relationship, even when he’s not home!
15. Go to the library. There are some library programs that kids can attend without an adult present. You sneak off into another corner of the library and read a book, text someone, or just shut your eyes for a bit!
Your turn! Share what you do to get a little break!
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