Catchy title, eh?? Since the series Breaking Bad was all the rage for a while (maybe it still is?) , I decided to give in to cyber peer pressure and give it a whirl, but the whirl wound down fast, and I only made it through 5 episodes before I decided to take up another Jane Austen novel.
How `bout a post on when it slows down! There are only 3 little people under this roof and I find I NEVER sit. If I'm not prepping a meal (read slapping together a PB&J), I'm cleaning up after one, changing a diaper, prepping for the next meal, gluing a broken toy back together, finding something for the little ones to play with that doesn't involve a "he took my toy" fight, all the while checking the clock on the countdown til the hubby's home.....just to name a few. You know the drill.
Whether you have one child or ten, every mother has experienced moments in her life when she's felt like waving the white flag of surrender. No doubt about it, there's nothing easy about being a mom, whether you stay home or juggle a career on top of it, and finding time for ourselves can often be as difficult as tackling our daily list of daily duties.
With five little guys constructing a laundry pile that would fill the Grand Canyon each week, their non-stop aerobic activity tapping out my energy reserves, and their innocent boyish boogers 'n grunt habits grinding my nerves down to a pulp, I know how important it is to make time for breaks here and there, just to ensure I stay more Mary Poppins than Cruella-ish.
- 1 -First and foremost, sit down and talk to your spouse, one-on-one, about your need (yes, this is a need, not just a want) to have a time during the week (or as you see fit) that you can count on to have alone to yourself. Be honest with him about your feelings, but don't whine about all of the things you have to do, or why being covered in spit up and finger paint all day doesn't make you feel much like a princess. And, please, don't compare his schedule/demands to yours. That's a no-no, and it will get you nowhere. In fact, I suggest putting on some lipstick and holding his hand while you share your needs, all the while reminding him that you are so happy that he can help you make this little scheduled vay-cay dream come true (are you following me??).
Note: At the end of the day doesn't matter if your husband understands this particular need or not. (I don't really understand why my husband needs to go out with the guys to rehydrate himself with beer after he plays basketball with his buddies, but I'm his cheerleader, right?) Remind him that you just need his love and support in this matter. When you come home more cheerful, energized and interested in HIM, he won't need any other explanation!
Perhaps your spouse would be willing to take the children for a few hours during an evening once a week, or every-other-week, if his schedule permits. If so, try to have the house picked up and supper ready when he gets home (a great time to whip out the crock pot), so that he can have quality time with the kids while you're gone. Remember, the more enjoyable the evening is for him, the more enjoyable it will be for you, and the more likely you will be to count on it as a repeat success, which is your goal, right?
- 2 -If your husband's work schedule or outside commitments does not allow him to help you out, discuss with him the possibility of hiring a babysitter if your budget allows. If you are able to find someone whom you have confidence in, set up a consistent scheduled time for them to come to your home. This will help eliminate last-minute cancellations and disappointments.
If you are nervous about having a babysitter watch your children, and if the individual is someone that your children have spent little or no time around, there are a couple of things you can do to help make the experience more positive for everyone. First, invite the babysitter over for lunch and some play time with the kids. This will give everyone a chance to get to know each other better, and the children won't feel as though they're being left with a stranger. Second, before the babysitter arrives, have a special craft, activity or game planned and set it out for the babysitter to do with the children while you are gone. This will help eliminate the possibility of the television becoming the babysitter.
- 3 -If hiring a babysitter isn't an option, consider approaching a friend about doing a child swap. Several years ago, when we had three little ones, I did this once a month with a good friend of mine. We took turns watching each another's children while the other person had the entire afternoon free - a fabulous four hour break! Be considerate and stick to the agreed time out, and offer to bring a snack for all of the kids to enjoy while you're gone.
I really prefer the "child swap" option over asking a grandparent to babysit. We love, love, love our grandparents and want them to have as much time as possible with our kids, but we never want them to feel that they are only wanted if they can be helpful by watching the kids. If the grandparents in your family insist on watching the kids for you, to give you that much needed break each week, then be sure to reciprocate their generosity and show them your sincere thanks with dinner invitations or spontaneous visits just to say "hello" and "I love you" during non-babysitting times.
- 4 -If none of the options that I've offered so far are a possibility for you, consider calling your local high school (or the most reputable one in your area), and asking if the students may obtain community service hours through volunteer child care. If so, begin asking around in your social circles, bible studies, and community organizations if your friends might know of a top-notch student who is great with kids and might be looking to earn a few service hours. You might be surprised by what a little effort in this direction might lead you!
Six years ago, this was the route I chose, and we ended up having the most amazing high school senior come and help after school for three hours once a week. She has remained a very dear friend of our family over the years, and will be staying with us this summer to help us as we prepare for the arrival of #6!
- 5 -No matter what you decide to do with regards to making time for yourself outside of the home, I believe that it's possible for every mom to have a few minutes during the week to herself inside the home as well. This is much easier for me, now that I have older children at home, but even when they were little, I began a routine of having 30 minutes to 1 hour of quiet time after lunch each day. For those children who weren't napping, they were to find a comfy spot somewhere in the living room where I would read aloud to them for 15 minutes or so, just to get them settled down. Then, I would give them the option to read on their own, color or draw pictures or rest for at least a half hour. If they remained quiet during this time, they earned a little treat (Dum-Dum sucker, box of raisins, or points toward something bigger that they really wanted).
This routine has worked for many, many years, and I look forward to having that little bit of quiet time each day (if possible). It's important that you use this time to sit and relax! Don't run off to do laundry or dishes or make phone calls....read, pray or rest. This is your time to recharge before the remainder of the busy afternoon. Part of gaining time for yourself means giving up having a perfect home. Things may seem a little messy for a while, but as your children get older and can help with more chores, this inconvenience will be lessened.
- 6 -Whatever time you have to yourself outside of the home is precious time indeed. Use this time to do something that you ENJOY, not to conquer the list of errands that need to be run. I'm especially guilty of giving in to this temptation, because I really don't like to haul my kids around town for any type of shopping. But, trust me, you won't feel rejuvenated when you get home if you've spent an hour of your outing standing in line at the Wal-Mart check out.
If solitude suits you, go where you can truly have alone time alone. If social time is what you crave, plan ahead and invite friends out for lunch (wine, anyone?), join a class that teaches something you've always wanted to learn (community colleges are a great resource), one where you can meet people, or even volunteer somewhere that interests you (serving others outside the home can be surprisingly energizing!).
- 7 -Pencil opportunities for exercise into your break if it's possible. When we lived in a larger metro area, my favorite afternoons were ones where I could visit our church's adoration chapel for an hour of quiet prayer, then I'd seek out my favorite coffee shop and find a quiet corner to catch up on my latest book or to write, then I'd finish my time out with a jog somewhere scenic. For me, that combination of leisure was the most relaxing and restorative.
- 8 -I've said it once, and I'll say it again. Don't feel guilty about taking a break. For most of us, guilt is the #1 hurdle in motherhood to get over. We feel guilty about so many things, from not baking our kids' birthday cakes from scratch to wishing we could heal their every ailment. We feel guilty, because we want to be the best mom possible to our kids, but usually that looks a little something different than the world's ideals, than perfection.
I see my vocation as a mother as a privilege. For me, giving my life to my husband and children is my pathway to heaven. How can any journey toward heaven be sanctifying without suffering? Without struggle? Without sacrifice? Paradoxically, it is those very things, the crosses we bear, that make this journey of love rich, meaningful, and strong. That being said, as moms, we must also be willing to exercise the virtue of prudence, knowing what our limits are, to have the humility to ask for help, and the courage to share our struggles with others. Making time for ourselves, offers us not only a break from the physical demands of life, but more importantly, the much needed mental and emotional peace we need to return to our life at home with a positive and cheerful disposition, which is a precious gift to our families!
Is there a matter in life that you would like a little encouragement or motivation in??
I'd love to hear from you!!
Please feel free to e-mail me, or leave your requests in the comments!