I hearby declare that every mother be entitled to a “Mommy Break” at least once a year.
The well-being of her family depends on it.
As a mother, whether you are staying at home or working, you are on the job 24/7. How is that?
As a working mom, you have your duties at work, only to come home and be faced with your duties at home. When you’re at work, a part of your mind is thinking about what you need to get done at home. When you’re at home, a part of your mind is still on work.
And let’s not even talk about the guilt that exists in both areas over what you STILL haven’t had time to do yet.
As a stay-at-home mom, you live with your job. You can’t take a break from thinking about what you need to do because you LIVE with what you need to do. Socializing requires a concentrated effort. You don’t have built-in chatting opportunities with colleagues at work. You’re working a job that you rarely get recognition or appreciation for. And there’s no compensation/reward program that keeps you motivated or gives you a sense of accomplishment.
The thing is, we love our families and that’s what keeps us going, fighting the good fight, day after day.
But this mental and emotional pressure can get exhausting over time, and that’s why you need to take what I call a “Mommy Break”.
Machines need rest and so do you
I think God was trying to tell me something when my MacBook Pro died at the end of December. After seven and a half years of faithful (and unending) work, my display just died. After trying everything I could to revive it, I admitted defeat and sent it away to be repaired.
I didn’t realize at the time that I, too, would need to be sent away to be repaired.
As a homeschooling mom, I’m with my kids 24/7. I absolutely LOVE teaching my kids, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But without school, I don’t have the option of sending my progeny out of the house for a few hours so I can get housework done. This means I have to juggle my household tasks (and rare hobbies, like this blog) while keeping half of my brain focused on what my kids are up to.
Why do I need to keep my brain on my kids? Well, these posts: Pumpkin Spice Custard Trifle and Soft Ginger Cookies with Brown Butter should clue you in on just some of the shenanigans my kids can get up to. So, in order to give my brain (and my two little trouble makers) a little bit of rest, I enforce a manadatory naptime in the afternoon. This buys me about an hour or so of being able to use my WHOLE brain. It’s a great system, and it was working fine for me, until it wasn’t anymore.
My older son, Beau, has started praying (Alhamdulillah) and feels that he has outgrown nap time. This, on its own, is not so much of a problem.
The problem is when Kit, my four-year-old, decides to stop napping.
Now, while Beau doesn’t really need to nap, Kit HAS to nap otherwise he turns into a child version of the Incredible Hulk. And he’s about as reasonable too.
“Smash and destroy! ARRRRRRRGGGH!”
Yeah, it’s not fun.
A few weeks of this had passed and I was starting to short circuit. No lie, my right eye was literally starting to twitch.
I was cranky, in a bad mood, tired and completely unproductive. But I soldiered on because hey, that’s what being a mom is all about, right?
And then one day I came home from the hospital with Beau (he has an illness that requires regular treatment) and was about to give him his medicine when my husband casually asked which one I was giving him. When I told him, he looked at me confused.
“Aren’t you NOT supposed to give him that this week?”
Oh my GOD. He was right. I can’t believe I was about to make such a dangerous mistake.
WARNING: System Critical Failure. Reboot immediately.
The “right time” for a Mommy Break is now
That incident was enough to finally convince me that I needed a Mommy Break. In the past, every time we made plans to go somewhere, one of the kids would get sick, or we’d get last minute guests, or the weather was dangerous or, you know, the stars hadn’t aligned properly and Mars was in retrograde and obviously we can’t go now, because well, THAT would mean disaster.If you wait for the 'right time' to take a break, you'll never take it. There will never be a 'right time.' There will never be a 'perfect vacation' either. What you need to do is take what you can get RIGHT NOW. Click To Tweet
If you wait for the “right time” to take a break, you’ll never take it. There will never be a “right time.” There will never be a “perfect vacation” either. What you need to do is take what you can get RIGHT NOW. Don’t wait until you have enough money to go somewhere really special. Don’t wait until you have enough days off to REALLY relax.
Don’t wait until you’ve made a terrible mistake because you were so burned out.
If you can find someone trustworthy to take care of you kids, then leave them with them and go. Call in a favor, cash that I.O.U. If you can’t, then just TAKE THEM WITH YOU. Honestly, just getting a break from the routine will make a huge difference.
And lets say you don’t have the money to go anywhere far. That’s okay. Go to the next city over. Or go to a hotel in your own city. And if you can’t manage that, then stay at home and have a stay-cation. Pre-cook your food or use frozen food or order in. If the kids eat cereal three times a day, that’s okay. Relax your screen time rules, ignore the screaming and the fights, for ONE DAY just let them work it out on their own.
Even Superman needs to recharge in the sun. You can hang up your cape for a little while too.
This is the best thing you can do for your family
After six years of putting it off, I took a Mommy Break, and it was the best thing I could have done for my family.
My husband and I went up Pir Sohawa to a place called Whispering Pine Resort. It was only a little over an hour away from our home in Islamabad. We purposely chose a place that was close and affordable so we could come back immediately if our family needed us. Alhamdulillah, there was no crisis at home and I was able to fully relax and recharge.
Interesting things happen when you take a break. Your mind feels fresh, your mood improves, and the mental blocks in your mind start to lift. You get inspired, you want to be more productive and you remember what you love about what you’re doing (or you might even have an epiphany and realize you should be doing something else.) You will often find that your best ideas happen when your brain is at rest, when you’ve had some time to distance yourself from the problem. You have a level of patience that you didn’t have before. You can now go back to your responsibilities with this elevated state of mind.
And wouldn’t you know it, after only a day and night, I was already fired up and ready to go back. We had originally planned on staying for two nights, but I felt like a kid at the end of summer vacation: eager for it to be over and for school to begin again. (Or was I the only nerd that missed school by the end of summer break?)
Taking that Mommy Break made me remember everything I loved about being at home. I could come back to life’s challenges with a fresher resolve and stronger emotional state. I was back to caring for my family with 100% functionality. And I think the kids definitely appreciated having a happier mommy.
You guys, if one of you out there is reading this and feeling burnt out and needs someone to give them permission to take a break, then I am giving you permission: Take a Mommy Break. Get some rest. Recharge, and come back ready to do whatever it is you believe you were put on this Earth to do. You owe it to yourself and the people who depend on you to be the best version of yourself, and if that means you need a bit of rest once in a while, then you deserve some freaking rest.You owe it to yourself and the people who depend on you to be the best version of yourself, and if that means you need a bit of rest once in a while, then you deserve some freaking rest.Click To Tweet
There is so much wisdom in this post. I really can’t get enough of it..so beautiful and well-written too. I loved what you said about being unable to use your whole brain. So true how we just can’t fully focus!.
Of course, we wouldn’t have it any other way. But you’re SO RIGHT! I know it’s such a cliche but after motherhood, the whole “you can’t pour from an empty cup” thing makes so much sense.
Loved it and can’t wait to read more like this.
JazakAllahukhairan and Alhamdulillah, I’m so glad that you found it helpful! Sometimes it feels counter-intuitive to see to our own needs, but when we don’t, it affects everyone in our family. May Allah Bless and Guide us all, Ameen. I pray that Allah gives peace and contentment to every mom reading this, Ameen.