Yes – those are my feet . . . up and off the floor . . . with no kids in sight! And not only that – they are in a beautiful setting (at the historic Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia) while my ears listen to a pianist play all my favorite songs, and my mouth sips on refreshing iced tea and indulges in cucumber sandwiches and banana nut bread. Yum! Not quite heaven . . . but it comes close today!
The last couple weeks have been a flurry of activity with the kids home for summer break. My husband had a business trip coming up here, and he originally asked me if I wanted to bring the kids and come with him. That wasn’t going to work out (with VBS, Driver’s Ed and other things going on) . . . however, after seeing me melt down a couple times in the last two weeks (I blame it on my allergy med (who knew it could make your crabby!?), hormones, and the continuous near-100-degree weather!) he suggested – “what if just you came up with me instead?”
Is that a trick question?! Sign me up! Here I come!
Praise God for parents and an awesome sister-in-law who was willing to watch our brood of 5 for three nights so I could get away!
Me Time . . . Mom Time . . . Mommy Time-out
Yes – whatever you decide to call it – you are allowed this. Did you know that?
Didn’t you read about this in the fine print of the back page of the manual that came with your baby? Oh wait . . . did you even get to the last page amidst the exhausting days and sleepless nights, dirty diapers that spilled out all over your clothes (and the baby’s 3rd outfit of the day), the hours of soothing a crying, teething, hungry, just-want-to-be-held precious bundle of joy, and don’t forget the cooking, cleaning, and possibly even taking care of other bundles-of-joy turned toddler-terrors?
Or maybe you didn’t even get a “handbook”. 🙂 (Don’t worry . . . none of the rest of us did either!)
Well – after birthing 4 kids and adopting our 5th – let me just tell you . . . Mom Time (aka Me Time, Mom’s Time-out, etc) IS allowed! Woo-hoo! Thank you Lord!
Am I a bad mom?
Am I selfish for wanting some time to myself?
Am I am a bad mom for not wanting to deal with kid issues today (this moment, this week, this month, this year!)?
Am I a bad mom, or do I not love my kids if I want to sometimes run away . . . just for a little while (or maybe a long while)?
I thought I wanted to be a Stay at Home Mom (SAHM) – but I’m not sure if I’m cut out for this 24/7 kids-kids-and-more-kids stuff.
There must be something wrong with me, because I don’t see any of my other SAHM friends feeling this way. Am I a bad mom?
I could list many, many more statements that I have not only thought myself but have heard other moms say. And those that didn’t say it . . . you know you thought it (or something similar)!
Time for Me
I don’t know where the fallacy crept in and how the Supermom mentality pervaded our culture – to think we can do it all, have it all (a perfectly clean and decorated house like a model home, gourmet culinary delights every night), create it all (crafts, perfect head bows for our little girls, Halloween costumes, b-day parties, etc), and be with our kids 24 hours a day 7 days a week – and NOT need a break.
Does anyone work like that at their job? Who do you know that works 24/7 – always on call – always being needed – responsible for the life and death decisions of other individuals – continuously – without a break?
OK – There are some jobs that come close, that might even seem more demanding or stressful. . . . but I, for one, believe parenting (whether your a SAHM, SAHDad, or working mom or dad) is one of the toughest, demanding and self-sacrificing jobs . . . and there is no “quittin’ time” where you can clock out, go home and put your feet up and not think about your “job”. But there needs to be!
I’ve talked before about Mom Guilt – where it comes from, what to do with it, and what to do about it . . . but let’s expand the conversation and talk about Mom Time today.
Sleeping on the job
Everyone needs a break from their responsibilities (whether at a job, parenting, cooking, cleaning, etc) now and then – and it actually will improve your “performance” in that area. A recent GMA report on the need for naps in the workplace stated that NASA did a study and found that if you took even just a 26 minute nap, you could boost your performance by 34%! I even read an article in Businessweek online that talks about companies like Nike and Google that have nap-friendly “quiet rooms” for their employees . . . because they see the value (to their employees and their business) in a time out to rest, recouperate and and be rejeuvenated!
If encouraging and creating an environment, place and time for naps is good enough for Google and Nike . . . why can’t moms have a nap time or a time-out just for themselves?
Studies have even been done on the effect that taking a vacation has on the short-term effect on overall well being and the long-term effect on physical complaints of employees . . . showing a positive result in both. Employees also typically come back more creative in their thinking and approach to work tasks, and much more.
How to find the time
So – what can you do to create a little down time, Mom Time or Me Time? Think in terms of these areas – Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Seasonally and/or Yearly.
- Daily: What can you do each day to give yourself a “26 minute nap” (time-out, me time, time for just mom!). When my kids were little (and even now!) my “me time” would be my 20-minute shower (if I was lucky to get that much time). I would find a time when they were not awake (or wouldn’t disturb me), bring my laptop into the bathroom to play my favorite pick-me-up or worship music, and spend a few moments with God while I shampooed, conditioned, shaved and cleaned my birthday suit from head to toe. Other times, it’s sitting on my swing out back eating a 50 calorie fudge pop while watching the birds fly by (and wishing I could go with them) or watching the trees sway (like John Travolta would do in Phenomenon) – trying to get a calm rhythm back in my day. Maybe it’s 30 minutes to get out of the house and go for a walk or run, or reading a book or favorite magazine, etc? There are a gazillion options . . . not forgetting my favorite . . . a real nap! 🙂
- Weekly: What is something you can schedule each week that will be just for you? A class, hobby, date night, girls-night-out, MOPS meeting, go see a movie, etc. What is something you can do that doesn’t involve the kids – and that will rejuvenate, rest, invigorate, or just bring you silly pleasure?! 🙂 I had a friend who would switch off each Tuesday with me and we would take each others’ kids for about 5 hours. It was such a blessing to know that every other Tuesday I had 5 hours to do what I wanted – to get things done, go out for coffee with a friend, schedule a doctor’s appointment, etc. Now – not all of those are “vacations” or “naps” – but just not having to drag the kids with me into the doctor’s office or the grocery store was HEAVEN! 🙂
- Monthly: Can you get away for a whole day (and maybe even overnight?) at least one day a month? Seriously – your kids will not suffer for it – and they might actually be better because you do . . .because you will be a better mom if you are refreshed! My mom has a group of ladies who go out once a month for a b-day lunch . . . even if it’s no one’s b-day! Why not make it a whole day?! 🙂 When my youngest daughter came home from Guatemala, she was definitely more attached to me than my husband . . . so much so that she would cry many times if I left to go to the grocery store, didn’t want daddy when she was hurt or needed something, etc. About a month and a half after she came home, I had wanted to go visit my sister in NYC for a weekend. I didn’t know how this would affect my little girl – but I knew that she needed to learn that her Daddy could take care of her and kiss her boo-boo’s, and that I would always come back to her. I prayed, trusted God, and told my little girl that I would be back in 3 days – I promise! When I returned, I fully expected her to come running out to me, crying and clinging to my leg – telling me to never leave again. Instead, I walked inside, and as I said hello, she casually looked up and said “Oh Hi mom” and then went back to playing. And the best part of it – she and her daddy bonded that weekend! My time in NYC was just what both of us needed! Fears (concerns, voices/opinions of others, etc) could have kept me from going . . . but then how long would it have taken for our daughter and her dad to bond? I think it would have been a lot longer. Yes – be wise and pray, but don’t let fear rule you when making these kinds of decisions (there is no fear in love . . . perfect love casts out fear!). Your kids will survive (and might do really well – and overcome some of their fears) if you get away for a day or two. Try it! 🙂
- Seasonally: What are the different things you like to do in each season (again – withOUT kids) that you can plan into your schedule? A scrapbooking retreat? Blueberry picking? A girl’s retreat at a beach, ski-lodge, mountain cabin, etc? An “extended” date with your hubby/significant other – out of town (or maybe in town . . . but you are not allowed to go back to the house!) Think creatively. It doesn’t have to be expensive – and you might be able to think of some free or cheap things.
- Yearly: Create an annual tradition – that helps you to be a better mom by being a better you. Is there a conference you have always wanted to go to? What about a scrapbooking retreat? How about an annual cruise in the tropics with some girlfriends or sisters (My new favorite that I wish I could do every year! Just did this for my b-day in Jan!)? Or maybe it’s something as simple as a Christmas girl’s lunch (my mom and sisters do this every year!), or going to visit a friend or relative.
Ok – some of these higher-priced options might not fit your budget right now . . . that’s ok! I love to think creatively – and I love to think of ways to get to do something for really cheap or even better – for Free! This trip away with my hubby is just one of those creative ways!
Start with today. Where are your “feet” today? Can you put them up . . . even for just 10-20 minutes . . . all by yourself . . . with no little ones around? Try it. See what you can come up with. It really is ok to do. Trust me! You might even like it! 🙂
Talk with your spouse, significant other, family, friends or neighbors – and don’t be afraid to ask for help! There is no shame in that – and you do not have to feel guilty because you can’t do it all! No one can (even if it appears that way)! Think of it this way . . . you are NORMAL if you need help! 🙂
Tout the benefits to those that will help – i.e. you will be a better and happier (more restful, rejuvenated, etc) mom, wife, friend, etc. – or even offer some help in return. If you have older kids – you can enlist their help to babysit . . . . or hire a “mother’s helper” (a pre-teen, teen or college-aged kid) to come over and help you on a consistent basis . . . even if you don’t leave the house (but just need to take a nap, take a bath, get some things done . . . or go to the park and read for an hour).
Where are your feet today?
Let me know what you did for your “Mom (Me) Time” today! I’d LOVE to know! Share your ideas! It might inspire, encourage and give others an idea of what they can do as well!