For me becoming a mom was the fruition of a lifelong dream. I used to wonder why women would talk about needing a break, needing some mom time. I thought I would want to be with my children every second of every day. Then I had my first child. It was absolutely everything I ever dreamed of, but it was also exhausting and mentally draining. I understood exactly what a little mom time could do for my moods. Before long I had a few more children and I realized that if I didn’t find a way to give myself a small bit of downtime each day I would be fussy and snippy.
I wasn’t in a position to get out of the house or hire babysitters. I definitely did not want to throw the kids at my husband when he walked in the door from a long day of work. I decided to find ways to carve out some mom time at home, with the kids there, to give my mind and body a few minutes to refresh.
When the babies were young I took advantage of their nap time. Instead of trying to get tasks done, I would use the first hour to read a book or lie on the couch and listen to music or take a nap myself. I never felt guilty about not getting anything done during that time. I needed it! If they slept longer than an hour I could chop veggies for dinner to make a few calls, but that first hour was for me to unwind. I can completely identify with how author Sarah Mae writes about her need to find time for herself in her book, Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe:
Day in and day out we give to our children, and it’s a privilege to do so. I’m thankful for the opportunity to pour into my children, but when we choose to give the best of ourselves to them, we will need a break, or we will break. We’ll get desperate. I remember the days when I hardly had any breaks, and I thought I was going to go crazy. I would wake up only to long to be able to fall back asleep because of my exhaustion and knowing that today would be like every other day: long, hard, monotonous (I hadn’t learned yet about choosing to bring beauty and life into my and my children’s lives). I needed a break—an extended time to be put back together again. I needed God, space, nurturing, time, and cupcakes. With sprinkles.
For me, once my children got to the point where they didn’t take a regular nap, then they were old enough to be still and quiet for a little while in the afternoon. I always taught my children that they didn’t need my constant attention. They were able to spend an hour reading or playing quietly (without electronic entertainment) while I rested. It was good for all of us. As my children grew older, they became more capable of having alone time while I took care of myself. Now that I have teens, they understand that I need my own hour during the day and they will often say to me, “Mom, you go rest. I will take care of the lunch cleanup.” They are grateful for all I do for the family and they want to show their appreciation. Sometimes I rest or sometimes I just fold my laundry and straighten my bedroom. Having a clean bedroom is a big relaxer for me. I want to encourage you to carve out a small bit of time for yourself each day. Mom time shouldn’t be a weekly thing or something you put on your calendar once a month—you need time every day! If you have a houseful of small children it may take some effort to teach them, but they can learn to do this. It may not happen every single day, but it is possible. Taking an hour or so of time for yourself each day will be a blessing for your whole family!