No matter how organized or effective we feel we are, moms need to find ways to break away from the responsibilities of work and remember who we are. We are women with precariously balanced loads of projects, activities, and things for which we are accountable. Not to mention those people in our lives who make it all worth it – our families. However, sometimes those precariously balanced loads feel like a bunch of jumping monkeys swarming on our backs and we’ve just run out of bananas. As a work-at-home and homeschool mom I am no stranger to feeling the swat of a monkey’s tail across my face, reminding me that I need to take a break before I break – I like to think of these as saving breaks that are my saving graces.
Easy Ideas for Sanity Saving Breaks for Moms
Get outside. I’m not one for lounging in the sun, but nothing refreshes me more than moving around outside. My favorite things to do are work in one of my gardens and play with my kids, and the best is when I can combine the two. We might garden together, or I might just listen to them tell stories in their tree fort while I trim trees and pull weeds. I just stepped back inside from a hilarious round of Frisbee with the boys and was presented with my first of many dandelion bouquets of the season.
Create a retreat. You don’t have to wait to have one find you. I have two dear friends who are proactive and plan their own retreat weekends. They know when they need a break and either plan a girls’ night away or even a solo trip for reflection and rejuvenation. It doesn’t have to be expensive, either. Church groups and nature centers often offer basic accommodations free of distractions and commercialization if you’re looking for an overnight away from home.
Exercise. I admit this one I struggle with sometimes because it doesn’t always feel like I am accomplishing anything that will be noticed – the laundry piles stay the same, the dishes still wait, and the floors are still dancing with dirt from the day. However, after one particularly long day at the computer of 13 hours of writing, there was nothing more needed than a bike ride to get my legs moving and my focus shifted. The healthy benefits can’t be denied, and if you are a work-at-home mom who sometimes sits at the computer too long, exercise is mandatory to feeling well.
Play a game. Even a round of Go Fish with the little ones or a serious duel of Wii tennis can be the best distractions. Laughter can reduce stress hormones and lower blood pressure. Just make sure you are in the moment and not worrying about the next deadline or cake you need to bake for PTA. Playing with your family also reminds you of why you work so hard every day – them.
Explore your faith. Research shows that people who have personal faith beliefs are healthier and can handle stress more effectively. Explore your faith by meditation, through prayer, in Bible study classes, or just evaluating your current faith options and beliefs.
Sing and dance. You don’t have to carry a tune to let music have a positive effect on you. Music therapies are even now reaching schools, care centers, and places of business. Crank your favorite song and take a 5 minute break to just dance. My kids love for me to sing them the Irish songs my dad sang to me, download some of my old favorites, and have me listen to their music choices. Sometimes nothing is a better stress buster than good old fashioned karaoke in the kitchen!
Leave. When all else fails and the day just can’t seem to be won, take a break. I love to call Road Trip! and have the kids pile in the van so we can all have a change of pace. It can change the energy of the day from negative and full of tension to refreshing perspectives. Go to the park, the zoo, visit someone at a nursing home, window shop for tree fort supplies, or even just go to the library. Sometimes I might call a road trip for myself, even just to get groceries. It is OK to leave the mess behind – it won’t miss us and with luck won’t multiply too heavily while we are gone.
No matter how you take your saving breaks, just make sure you take them before you really need them, and live in the moment. There is no point in a retreat if you spend it with regrets that you aren’t home. And it is difficult to lip sync to the classic oldies with a pout and frown on your face because you are too worried about the laundry on the line. Take time each day to renew yourself and your family will thank you.