You're Probably Not Taking Enough Breaks

[long post][self-care][parenting] Moms. They're the real MVPs. They give and give and give. Moms do more for their kids in one day than anyone does for them in months! What moms do is truly amazing and should be celebrated more than once a year.


(Wanna get straight to the skinny? Scroll down to the bullet list.)

BUT being a mom can be DRAINING if we're not careful! Many moms possess the superpower ability to go and go and GO - often off of adrenaline (and coffee) alone! And then they crash ... Hard. Some moms (especially those with multiple children age five and under) feel tired almost all the time. But there is a small percentage of moms who seem to always have energy and radiate joy. I bet you can think of at least one mom who's like that. When you see her, you think to yourself "What is her secret!?"

If you befriend one or more of these moms, you will eventually learn two things. 1 is that she does have moments that aren't as sweet as others; these moments may not happen often but they do happen. 2 is that she takes breaks! When her energy and joy start to waver, she takes a break! She also takes breaks on a regular basis to prevent (or be able to handle) mishaps!

You're probably thinking, "Pssshh. I don't have time for a break!" or "I don't have anyone to watch my kids just so I can take a break!" or some other excuse of why you "can't" take a break. And yes, I said EXCUSE. It may sound harsh but if you aren't giving yourself the occasional break, mama, it's time for a reality check.

You DON'T need to live near family, you don't need to wait for your children to get older, you don't need to have a babysitter, and you don't need to spend money to Take. Regular. Breaks. These are excuses you tell yourself in order to be okay with your poor decisions. Sorry, not sorry. I'm telling you this because I care.

And don't you dare think for a SECOND that you're neglecting your duties as a mother or being lazy for taking breaks. Your kids need a mom who is healthy - physically, emotionally, spiritually, sexually, socially, intellectually, etc. How are you supposed to care for multiple aspects of someone else's health when you haven't even taken care of your own? It's a model that is simply unsustainable. Moms. Who. Do. This. Will. Crash.

See that picture up there? I felt great! But only an hour before I took that, I was at my lowest point of the week. I was sacrificing sleep for my website launch. My toddler had been wanting to nurse more than usual. I felt burdened by my husband's dissatisfaction in areas of his life that I can do nothing about except pray. I felt the most exhausted I had felt in months, but oddly restless at the same time. I felt a little nauseous and just blah in general. I incorrectly thought "I would feel better if I could just get this room baby-proofed and straightened up". I thought, "I can wait to take a break after I get everything done that I need to do." I kept on for a little longer and kept feeling worse and worse until I thought, "You know what? NO. I'm not supposed to feel like this. I'm taking a break."

I thought of what would make me feel the best in the moment. It's not that I needed time away from my kids; I needed to take a moment to stop taking care of everything and everyone else so I could take care of myself for a moment. So, I stopped in the middle of what I was doing and decided to take a bath with aromatic and calming essential oils and I did my makeup! Was it the perfect ideal break? No. Jojo, the toddler, joined me in the bath. I could hear my older kids playing in the next room. But. Those things kinda made it better. It reminded me that taking a break doesn't have to mean getting away from the kids. Often, all you need to take a break is just a little change in scenery (and mood, pace, etc.) And guess what? This little trick often works for moody kids too.

ACTUALLY, YOU KNOW WHAT. Why are we calling it a BREAK when we are TAKING CARE OF OURSELVES. Happy moms take care of themselves. Happy moms are fun for kids. MOMS WHO TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES TAKE BETTER CARE OF THEIR KIDS. Happy moms have happy kids!

How to know when it's time for a break and what kind of break you need (AKA how to know when it's time to take care of yourself and how to take care of yourself):
I've been using this parenting technique called H.A.L.T. for a while. After seeing how effective it was for the kids, I thought "Grown-ups can use this too!" H.A.L.T. stands for the four most common reasons for kids' frustration. I added an element for grown-ups, making the acronym into H.A.L.T.S. (Get it? Halts? Like stops? Like stopping to take breaks?)

  • Hungry - Are you hungry? If not, has it been a while since you ate? Whether or not your answer is yes, a good meal or snack might be just the break you need. Keep snacks on hand for when you need a quick pick-me-up. Fresh fruits and veggies are the best because they naturally boost your mood and there's no guilt involved - even if dinner is gonna be ready soon.
  • Angry - A stands for angry, but really it means any uncomfortable emotion. If you're angry, sad, frustrated, anxious, depressed, etc take a break to do something fun, go work out, journal, listen to therapeutic music, take a long hot bath, cocoon yourself in blankets and read a book, talk to a friend, talk to me, pray, etc. Whatever you do, don't just shrug your feelings off. Your emotions are signals that something needs to be addressed.
  • Lonely - Do you feel lonely? Take time to go to a friend's house, invite someone over, make plans to meet up somewhere, go somewhere busy where you're bound to run into or meet someone, call your mom, call a friend, call me, play a game with your kids, cuddle up with your kids and watch a movie, cuddle up with your kids and read a book, etc. If you are feeling lonely, there is something you can do to fix it. So, do it.
  • Tired - Are you tired? You might need to eat (see "Hungry" above). If not, take a nap. I know moms who take a nap every single day while their kids are at school and their husbands are at work. I take naps. I make sure everyone is safe, set up a show we can watch together, then I take a nap. Obviously it's not the best nap since it's a light sleep so I can wake up if my kids need me, but it's better than nothing. Prevent this problem by making a sleep routine that works for you and your family. If that sounds out of the question for you, then it's time to make some changes. A good night's rest is the backbone of a productive day. Healthy sleep is the backbone of physical and mental health as well. Let's shift gears ... Do you exercise? It might sound counterintuitive to expend energy when you're already tired, but it actually does help you feel better when you get active! You don't have to go to the gym and pump iron (unless you want to); you can go on a walk, follow along with a yoga video on YouTube (I like Yoga with Adriene), or put on music and dance with the kids. Just get up and get moving!
  • Spiritually deprived - Do you have a higher power? Do you know who you are and why you're here? If you don't have a good answer to these questions, you probably have a constant feeling of unrest. Start exploring religions. My favorite is Christianity. I also like Taoism and Buddhism. I've dabbled in many others before deciding to make Jesus Christ my King and Savior. Read about ancient wisdom. Read religious texts. Pray to whoever you want to pray to: God, your future self, whoever. Just pray. Or meditate. Talk to others about what they believe in. Read books about others' spiritual journeys. Hire a soul guide. Go to local or online religious services.

Here is a little infographic you can save or print out to remind you to take breaks. And don't wait until you feel hungry, angry, lonely, tired, or spiritually deprived to take a break! Take breaks regularly to prevent meltdowns and frustration. I, for one, can tolerate way more whining and messes when I remember to take breaks regularly.

Do you have an idea for a good break? Tell me in the comments! 


2 comments:

  1. So good Andrea! I used to think that doing these things meant I was being a lazy mom. Mostly because I’ve always been told I didn’t do enough for my kids or my house wasn’t clean enough. The more they said it I began believing it. Lies lies!!!love your posts. Great stuff!!!

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    1. I am so glad you enjoy my blog! Comments like this are what keep me going. ♥️ Next time somebody says any crap like that to you again, you tell me so I can help set the record straight. 😊

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