You know the feeling: the baby is being extra fussy, my toddler is annoying me about something or other, the dog just threw up on the carpet and I just realized we are out of bread AND peanut butter.
Ok, I need five minutes. Right now. I’m hereby calling “five minutes for mom.”
I will be the first to admit that I want it all: happy children, hot coffee, home-cooked meals every day, a clean house, time to work out and shower every day. Clutter and mess and dirty dishes drive me insane. So I work hard around the clock to do e-very-thing.
Now quit laughing – I know that this is impossible.
I live (mostly) by attachment parenting, which usually means that I am very involved in the lives of my children. I’m constantly wearing and/or nursing my baby, and I’m quite active with my son who’s two and a half. Being a stay-at-home mom in a tiny house also means that my home is my office. And sometimes, life starts to make me claustrophobic.
When that happens, all I need to do is just take five minutes for myself. I lay the baby down safely where I can see her, I give my toddler the iPad or (gasp) turn on the TV – and I just go stand in the kitchen. I lean over the sink and breathe slow, inhaling calm and exhaling stress.
OK OK, sometimes there is chocolate involved. Or coffee. Or wine. But it is not really about that.
I am no good to my children if I am not happy and able to focus. And I know when I need to step away for a moment; I can always tell. Maybe I started snapping at my toddler when he was just asking a question (even if it was for the hundredth time). Maybe my infant is going through a growth spurt or a developmental leap, and needs me more than usual. Maybe I have been giving my children all of my attention, and I feel overwhelmed at the housework piling up. Trying to juggle everything in an impossible balancing act only means that I will inevitably crash to the ground with it all.
So I step back and refocus my lens. I make a point to not do any chores in my five minutes. I just stand there and shift my priorities back to where they belong. I have a brilliant child who is articulate and inquisitive – he is curious about his world and that is nothing to punish; I thank God that I am home with my daughter so that I can to give her the attention and care she needs; I am so fortunate to have a home, food to cook, and a husband who is willing to help when he gets home from work.
In this quick reflection time, I often ask myself “ok, what HAS to be done right now?” Of course the kids are number one; while I know my messes around the house will wait for me, they CAN wait. And so I let go of them for now.
I look at my children and see them in a bright new way – where a few minutes ago they were making me nuts, now I really see them as they are. They’re curious, genuine, and kind. My son is making my baby laugh (without any direction from me) and she’s cracking up. I take another deep breath… and smile. There was a time not too long ago when I was told I may never have children. And now I’m stressing out about how I need to vacuum. It seems so silly now.
When my five minutes is up, and I walk back onto the playing field, I am refreshed. Recharged. Renewed. I have regained my perspective and my soul is light again. I can put a big smile on my face, squeeze and kiss my baby daughter, and play with my son. I praise him for being so great with his little sister, and he knows I mean it.
I deserve to have little overflow breaks when I need it, so that I can be the mommy my kids deserve. Don’t feel guilty if and when you need to hold up a yellow card and say “I need five minutes. For me.” You will feel like yourself again, and that’s what your kids really want – a happy you!
Do you ever need a break from being mom? What do you like to do in your “me” time?