This week I had a really awful case of stay at home mom burnout. My husband was away on business for the entire week, which is always super-stressful for me. On top of that was a cranky, whiny toddler with his second ear infection of the month. I was pretty cranky myself.
All I could think was, is this my life? Does it revolve around listening to whining, making chicken nuggets and wiping poop?
I think that the problem was not my husband’s absence or the ear infection or even the prodigious pooping caused by overly frequent antibiotics. The problem was that moms don’t get any vacation time.
Think about it, every other job will give you, at a minimum, two weeks of vacation time. Maybe you even get a few personal days on top of that. You most certainly get a lunch break every single day. When your job is being a mother (and that’s everyone who has kids, not just the moms who stay at home. Moms who work come home and work their second shift), you don’t get a vacation. But, we’re human like everyone else, and we need time off to thrive at our jobs too.
So how do we recharge?
Schedule your Me Time.
Just like any other important activity or appointment, write your time down on your calendar. This validates the importance of the activity and makes it more likely you will follow through with taking time for yourself. This really is the key to making time for yourself. Remember, you get time off for any other job. You need to have time off from 24/7 mothering, too. For a limited time, I’m offering a FREE download of The Happy Mom Planner, the only planner that prioritizes self-care. The Happy Mom Planner makes it easy to find time for you in your busy schedule. Just enter your information below and it will be sent to your inbox immediately. Don’t waste another precious minute! Download it now!
Not sure where to pencil in the time? Here are some ways you can build self-care time into your schedule:
Daddy Time: Go out and leave the kids with your husband or partner. Or, better yet, have him take the kids out while you relax in a quiet house. The trick is to just do something nice for yourself during this time. Absolutely, positively, do not clean!
Babysitting Share: You can trade babysitting with an equally tired and harried friend. You watch her kids for a few hours and you return the favor.
Take Back your Morning: Mornings are very, very hectic with little kids. While getting up before they do can be key to a peaceful morning, you may not want to do this because they don’t sleep well at night. I’m the furthest thing from a morning person, so I tried setting an alarm once and that just didn’t work. Instead, I keep my kids occupied so I can have at least a few minutes to myself first thing in the morning.
Try to occupy them as best you can after they are changed and fed. There’s nothing wrong with them watching a half-hour of Sesame Street. The American Academy of Pediatrics has ok’d it as acceptable screen time. You can check the article out here. This can give you the chance to have a nice, peaceful cup of coffee or tea and get dressed.
Enjoy Nap Time: If your kids still nap absolutely, positively under-no-circumstances do any housework, chores, bill-paying or work. This is the key to your sanity, ladies. If you must cross something off your to-do list during nap time, make sure you give yourself at least a half hour to do something for yourself.
If you have a child that refuses to nap or has given it up entirely, institute quiet time. I did this when my daughter gave up her nap on literally the day I brought her brother home from the hospital. (Not on that day, of course, because my brain and my nether regions were fried). Once I was back in action, I had her lay in her crib for a half hour with a tablet (see the AAP screen time guidelines here) and a snack while the baby slept.
Create a Nighttime Routine: If you have a baby who isn’t sleeping well, you may not have much time in the evening. (If this is the case, check out my post about getting your baby to sleep here). Even if you take 10 minutes, this could mean a world of difference.
I don’t have time to shower during the day, so I always take a nice, hot bath or shower right after putting the kids down. After a long, drawn out bedtime routine, this will feel like heaven. I love a good bath with candles and bath salts and wine, definitely wine. If you don’t have the time, just take a nice hot shower, maybe dim the lights a little to up the relaxation factor.
Limit Time-Sucking Activities: Keep track of how often you use social media throughout the day. The answer might just surprise you. I’m not saying you should stop going on Facebook cold turkey (surely there’s some kind of support group for that if you want to). It’s just a matter of being aware of where your time goes.
Facebook and other social media outlets can be fine for the first 5-10 minutes. Seeing pictures of a friend’s new baby will really make you feel good for the first five minutes. But, when you’re on for another 20 and you end up reading your crazy Uncle Ron’s political rant…that’s when things take a turn for the worse and it’s just not a good use of your time. The trick is to avoid doing something that drains you or sucks your time away.
Do Something You Love: What should you do? Anything that refreshes you and makes you feel good. I love to read something fun or stream a workout. If you’re tired, take a nap! There is a boundless amount of fun, peaceful things you can do for yourself. Take a few minutes when you have quiet to sit and think about the things you liked to do before having children. How did you spend your Saturday? I often think, “Wow, what did I do all day before having kids? I had a limitless amount in my hands and I didn’t even appreciate it!”
If your stumped, though, I have a simple worksheet that will guide you through the process of finding your bliss. Just sign up below for a copy.
What are some ways you make time for yourself? Leave a comment below!