5 Reasons to Take a Break Already

Moms need to be less selfish.

We selfishly worry about being THE BEST at everything. We have to be the BEST mom that makes the BEST Bento Box lunches and snaps the BEST Instagram photos of the BEST Pinterest parties for our BEST dressed, BEST behaved kids who think we’re the BEST. We need to stop being so selfish. And we need to do that by being MORE selfish.

By that I mean that we need to take more time for ourselves.

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We need to do more things just for us.

We need to make being away from our kids a priority at times and stop foregoing our needs and wants for the wants of everyone else. Instead of martyring ourselves by falling on the sword of perfect mommyhood, we need to pick our battles and accept our limitations in order to win the war. I’m not sure what the war is against exactly.  It’s probably a war against Universal Entropy trying to snatch away our precious cherubs and turn them into 37-year-old slobs playing video games in our basements for the rest of eternity. But I tell you, as counter-intuitive as it seems, it’s actually more selfless to be more selfish.

Here’s why:

  1. Because we are wearing ourselves thin. We are running ourselves ragged. We are operating under the delusion that if we give up all of ourselves for the sake of our offspring, we somehow love them more and they will turn out better and need less therapy. But it’s not true. We’ve all heard the analogy that you need to fill up your own bucket before you can give anything to anyone else. Well that is true. If you are overtired and hangry and frumpy and miserable, you’re no good to anyone, least of all your children.
  2. Because you deserve it. If our kids deserve every happiness life has to offer, don’t we as well? My children bring me immense joy! But they bring me MORE joy when I’ve had a little break to think my own thoughts and speak like an adult and do an activity that doesn’t involve any mentions of ponies, Pokemon, pimples or pee.
  3. Because your family will survive your absence for a little while. Let’s assume you married your husband because he’s a good, capable, loving man. He can survive without you for a bit. Kids LOVE daddy time. And if he doesn’t take care of the brood and the nest the way you would, all the better. A dad’s method of parenting is its own glory to behold.
  4. Because you are setting an example of healthy behavior for your children. You don’t want to raise sweet little angels who grow up to be codependent pushovers. You want your kids to leave the house as kind, empathetic, assertive, healthy adults. You can be that too!
  5. Because children like a little autonomy anyway. Even if they complain about it, they thrive with a little responsibility. My teen boys are a great babysitting team. One plays with the baby while the other makes hot pockets for dinner. As a reward they get paid more allowance, learn life skills, and get to play video games while I’m gone (as long as the baby lets them).

Here’s how:

Take a nap. Take a night off.  Take a weekend away. Make arrangements for your kids. Your husband or mother or best friend or babysitter or older kids are all perfectly  capable of watching your kids for awhile, and what they can’t handle they’ll call someone for help with. If there’s an emergency they’ll call you, so relax. Everything’s just fine!  If you’re starved for alone time but can manage nothing more, hide in the bathroom a little longer, wake up an hour earlier or stay up and hour later.  Or if you’re needing sleep, go to bed a little early.  Nap while the kids are at school. Have hubby do just one midnight feeding so you can get a solid 5 hours. Pay attention to what you need, try to get it, and ask for help. You can always swap with other moms.  You know you’d be willing to help a girl out when she needed a break, and your friends would do that for you too. You’ll come back refreshed, rested and ready to face those responsibilities with renewed energy. I am MUCH more able to form a coherent thought, not to mention sentence, once I’ve had some time to think by myself for even 10 minutes. And the ability to do so makes me a much more effective human and definitely a more patient and loving mother.

Here’s when:

Whenever you feel yourself going crazy. When you are chronically sleep-deprived, when the tensions are rising and your anxiety level skyrockets, when you spiral into depression and you know that you Just. Can’t. Even.

As moms we can’t just pick up and leave at the slightest whim.  But having something to look forward to, a light at the end of a sometimes really dark tunnel can give us the strength to persevere through one more poopy diaper from a toddler or one more argument from a teenager.

So what’s your holdup? Aside from the obvious things like being unable to find a sitter, and literally having absolutely no time at all in your busy schedule (which is not healthy ladies, let’s not fool ourselves), surely, you can find some way to meet your needs or pamper yourself a little. If there’s anything standing in your way, I just hope it’s not guilt. I know, I know, I struggle with it too. But I also KNOW that this will help you. Sure, it requires creativity and a willing helper (it’s OK if they’re only willing if cash is involved), but it’s necessary. If your husband is not keen on the idea of holding down the fort without you, remind him about how much more relaxed and happy his wife will be *hint hint* when she returns. If you have no money to go out and do something fun, bring your coffee or hot chocolate or diet Dr. Pepper or whatever and sit in the car in the Target parking lot until 2 a.m. doing crossword puzzles. Yes, I’ve done that. It was fantastic.

Fo realz, yo. You need this. Let go of the anxious, guilt-laden lies in your head that tell you you’re a bad mom for not wanting to be with your kids 24-7. Let go of the notion that you can do it all and be it all to everyone always and that you shouldn’t need anything because you’re a giver and being selfish is inherently bad. The irony is that the more you take care of yourself, the more you can take care of others. Being selfish IS being selfless. To a point.  Obviously anything can be overdone.  I’m not saying that you should get high on the couch all day while your 6-year-old attempts to cook noodles and your 3-year-old smears feces on the wall. But if that’s not happening, I think you’re good.

So go ahead, take a break.

If it makes you feel better to tell people that I MADE you do it, then feel free.  I’ll take the blame if all hell breaks loose while you’re gone and your kids end up needing life-long therapy. But trust me on this, everything will be fine.

You got this.

And you’re welcome.

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A peaceful scene to help you relax.
Momming is hard, amiright?

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