You deserve a break today.
No. I take that back.
You deserve a break every day. And by “break,” I mean time just for yourself. Call it “me time” or “alone time” or “everyone get out of my face time.” Whatever you want to call it, you damn well better be taking it. And do me a favor, stop thinking it makes you a selfish or bad mom to take breaks from your family. It doesn’t.
Take it from me, a been-there-done-that mom who has witnessed one too many mothering martyrs make the massive mistake of not taking care of themselves and ultimately crashing and burning. You need to get away every once in a while. Just away. Away from anything and anyone who needs you.
How often do you need to do that? Well, that is totally up to you. For some, one hour of alone time per week is enough. For others, two hours per day is the mandatory minimum to keep any remnant of sanity. However long you may need, you just need it — and you’re not selfish for taking it. Here’s why.
1. Everyone needs down time, even if it’s in the smallest of doses.
I can’t think of any age of human who doesn’t need to hit a personal control+alt+delete for their attitude at some point during their day. Mothers especially need to give themselves permission to use the restart button with the greatest of frequency. It keeps resentment and guilt at bay. Hitting the reset button also allows yourself time to reboot. Just pretend you’re a desktop PC circa 1985 and let that restart take a good 20 minutes to happen. Small reboots lead to happier restarts.
2. Your time away from the kids is YOURS. Own it.
I do love me a good old fashioned moms’ night out. And then I don’t. Somewhere between ordering our margaritas and inhaling chips and guacamole, we inevitably end up talking about our kids. With apologies to my mom BFFs, I don’t want to talk kids when I am away from kids. Period. Your time away is your time away. Do with it what you please. If saying “no” to a moms’ night out in favor of sitting in the bookstore watching Netflix by yourself and eating peanut M&M’s is what will recharge you, then by all means, do it.
3. Guilt is a bullshit LIE.
A big, fat, ridiculous, and unfounded bullshit lie. Tell me something, just who exactly is giving out perfect mothering medals? Nobody, that’s who. Don’t buy the junk that the myth of perfect motherhood is selling, because it reeks of dirty sweat socks in the end.
Nobody gets to tell you how much time you need to spend with your kids, or what you do with that time, except you. And there are absolutely no medals for time spent. I promise. Prefer to not sit on the floor and assemble Legos all day? Awesome. Not up for another round of Candy Land? No problem. Tossing the kids in front of the TV at dinnertime with a bag of Cheetos so you can take a few cleansing breaths and find your mojo again? Go for it.
And kick that fickle bitch called “guilt” out the door.
4. Your oxygen mask goes on first. I’m serious.
It’s really that uncomplicated, but so many mothers ignore it. You simply cannot take care of your children if you’re an exhausted and burnt out hot mess. You just can’t. Exhaustion breeds resentment, which breeds discontent, which ultimately breeds either full-blooded rage or total indifference — both of which are qualities you definitely don’t want festering while trying to raise children.
It’s kind of like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie but for mothers. Basically, if you don’t give a mom a damn break, she will lose her shit. And when she loses her shit, nobody will see a pair of clean underwear or dinner until the end of time.
5. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Nothing makes your children appear more lovable, adorable, and totally freakin’ fantastic than not being with them for a short (or long) period of time. Being away from your crew helps to wash away their bad, allowing only their best to rise to the surface. Too often we only see the headaches and the downside to their endless neediness, rather than noticing the fact of what an awesome privilege it is that they need us.
Taking time away helps us to see that what lies in their neediness is not only their perfect vulnerability, but also our imperfect, yet perfect, way of being their one and only mother.
And when you get back recharged with that thought, how can the reunion be anything less than awesome?