Every morning, sometime between 4:30 and 5:30, I wake up to Declan’s cries for a bottle. (I hate it that he is nine months old and still waking so early to eat, but since he goes to bed between 7:30 and 8:00, I figure he must need it.) I sleepwalk to his room, feed him and then go back to bed. If I’m lucky, I can get another hour or two of fitful sleep before both boys wake up to start the day between 6:30 and 7:00. We are busy playing, cleaning, and running errands all day long until Daddy gets home at 5:00. At that point, it’s time for dinner, kitchen clean-up, a few minutes of family time, and finally it is bath and bedtime for the boys. By 8:00, they are all settled in for the night. Then, I get to hit the couch, kick back…and put in a few hours of work. By 10:30 or 11, it is finally time for bed and my exhausted brain is mush. Every day is this busy, and I don’t think this is very different from most mothers I know. Everyone’s routine varies, whether with work, school, daycares, etc, but most of the women I know are just as busy; just as tired.
With this kind of schedule, it is critical to try to make a little time for me. I’m not going to lie, it’s hard. There are weeks that go by before I remember that I need a break sometimes, too. And when I do, it’s usually only because I’ve reached a breaking point. As a case in point, all of the stress and general busy-ness of the last few weeks finally caught up with me the other night when Ian poured a full cup of water over my head while I was bathing him. He knew he wasn’t supposed to do it, yet in typical Ian fashion, he yelled, “Hey Mommy!” and then dumped the water over my head and back. He grinned (that maddening, naughty grin that makes me want to scream) and then sat back to see how I would respond. In the spirit of full disclosure, I will admit that it wasn’t pretty. I fumed and then I yelled at him instead of handling it properly. Then, I left the bathroom and cried. This, my friends, is when I knew it was time for a Mommy break.
The point of this little story is to remind myself and everyone else, that it really is necessary to take some time away every now and then; to just do something for you. The day after our little bath time episode, I called and scheduled a massage for Saturday. When I woke up Saturday morning, I got everyone fed and then Colin took the boys out for a while. It was literally the first time I had been alone in weeks. I had an hour and a half all alone in my house! I took a really long shower, ate breakfast alone, and gave myself a pedicure. Then I went for my massage, which I’m pretty sure I slept half of the way through. I followed that up with a trip to the dentist (not really enjoyable, but another “me” thing I had put off for far too long). I will tell you that when I returned home at 4:00 Saturday afternoon, after having been alone for seven hours, I was in a completely different frame of mind. Last night, Colin and I cuddled up on the couch and watched a movie together. And as I sit here on Sunday, even though I have been cleaning, making baby food, and catching up on laundry all day, I can honestly say that I still feel happy and relaxed. The tension in my back and the slight headache that I’ve carried for the past few weeks are gone and I have enjoyed being at home with my family today. I feel revived and recharged.
It is hard to carve out time for ourselves, even just a few minutes a day, but it is crucial. The truth of the matter is that a happy mom really does equal a happy family. When I’m stressed and feeling overworked and under appreciated, I don’t want to play with anybody, I don’t want to have any extra family time, and I certainly don’t have the patience required to be a good mommy to a limit-pushing three year old. This is when it’s time for me. To any of you out there feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, I urge you to step back and take some time for you. Remember that you are not just a mom or a wife. You are an individual and as such, you deserve some time alone to focus on yourself. It might be just a bubble bath and a good book, a massage, or a date night with the hubby, but it’s important. Pencil it in. You owe it to yourself and your family.