You don’t realise how hard it is to be a Mum until you are in the thick of it. People will tell you about the sleepless nights, the battles over vegetables, the nagging it takes to get a pair of shoes on their feet, and the temper tantrums. But until you experience it firsthand, you don’t truly know. For that reason, you need to make sure that as a Mum, you take time out just for you. That doesn’t mean sitting on the naughty chair or the naughty step... it means real mum’s time out to recharge your batteries, and maintain your sanity.
The Importance of Mum’s Time Out
Being a mother can be one of the most stressful jobs you will ever work. Never mind the pressure of managing staff, keeping to a corporate budget, or meeting tight reporting deadlines. Motherhood tests every ounce of your patience while only operating on 4 hours sleep a night (if you are lucky).
Stress is so dangerous for your health. You are less able to focus, more prone to depression, insomnia, low energy and frustration. It can also compromise your physical health, making it easier for you to pick up colds and bugs. Taking a time out can help you calm that stress and restore your energy.
Top Ideas for Mum’s Time Out
Have something that is just for you
Is there something that you love to do? A hobby, a sport, a social group, or even a walk in the sunshine. Find that ‘something’ that makes you feel happy and relaxed, then factor it into your schedule. I know it can be difficult to find childcare sometimes, but hopefully you will be able to swing something for one night a month at least.
It is important that this ‘something’ does not involve the kids, or doing anything for anyone else. Bonus points if it gets you out of the house on a regular basis. It is simply time for you to be yourself - not someone’s Mum, not someone’s wife or girlfriend... just you.
Make the most of nap and school time
Capitalise on the child-free time that you might have. If you have a napper, then don’t rush to fold the washing the second their head hits the pillow. Make a nice drink, grab a magazine or book, and sit in the sunshine for 30-minutes. The washing will still be there after your time out.
The same goes for when the kids are at school. Find some time in your day to just sit and relax, your body will thank you for it.
Fill Your Cup First
You can’t keep giving, and giving, and giving if your cup has nothing left in it to give. Make it a priority to replenish your energy stores. You cannot continue to run on an empty tank forever. Don’t feel guilty about taking that time either. By having a small recharge break, you will be able to give more when your family needs you to.
Put It In Your Diary
Try and set a certain time every week that is your Mum’s time out time. Block that time off in other people’s calendars too. Let them know that you are not available during that time slot. And then do whatever you want with that time. See a movie, read a book, go for a run, do some gardening, study a qualification, whatever floats your boat.
Practice Mindfulness or Meditation
These two practices are the true double whammy, they recharge your body and mind, and give you a definite time out. Simple, no-cost relaxation practices that bring a little peace to your world. They give you the chance to reconnect with yourself, and to calm the craziness of a world with children in it.
Yoga can be a fantastic way to incorporate both mindfulness and meditation into your schedule. Plus, it has the added bonus of being time away for you too!
Do you and your other ‘Mum Friends’ constantly talk about the pressures of motherhood, and how you never have any time to yourself? How about leveraging your collective time? One afternoon a week, you look after your friend’s children so that she can have some down time, and then another afternoon a week, she takes your children.
You know that the kids are safe (and probably having a ton of fun playing with their friends), you get the feel good factor of helping a friend, and you get that much needed time out. Wins all around!
Know Your Limits
If you are really struggling with stress and overwhelm, then it is alright to reach out for help. If you have friends or family that you can talk to, then make time to do it. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking with them, or feel it has gone beyond that point, then talk to your doctor or another professional. Make sure you look after yourself Mama!