Burn Out. It happens at our jobs, it happens in relationships, and YES… it happens as a parent. Don’t feel bad! It’s an occupational hazard we all face repeatedly throughout the two hundred and twenty-five months we are obligated to serve each of our little biological creations.
Does it shock you to hear me speak this way about being a parent? Well, it shouldn’t. There is not a mom, dad or caregiver who hasn’t at one time or another fantasized about throwing in the towel, leaving for Paradise and going on a luxurious vacation full of adult beverages, decadent foods and unlimited pampering, sans our stressful little miracles. The sole purpose of this article is to announce to everyone as a whole: IT’S OKAY TO RUN AWAY… frequently.
I have been a mom for twenty years and counting. I love my children with all of my heart. However, I am discovering more each day about my abilities, and my limits. Parenting is a full time job that offers no sick days or pay. I dream of vacations, alone… when in reality, my children vacation without me; because vacations with kids are work for the adults who think they are getting a vacation as well. Remember, Mom is always on duty. Since we can’t punch out, we have to manipulate moments throughout our shifts (err…lives) where we remind ourselves who is boss. (No, it’s not the kids!) Take a day off!
Schedule Days Off for Yourself. Clear your calendar, and your head! Make it known to everyone that you are planning to be unavailable for a specific amount of time. If you are able, pre-plan childcare, meals and all other daily details in advance with your helpers so that you can have your quiet time uninterrupted. On the flip side, be respectful of your significant other or helpers when they also need a day off.
De-Digitalize. Close your laptop, power off your phone, and discover the ringing in your ears get softer and softer.
Take that Vacation, Alone. If even for only 24 hours, consider taking a full day and night for yourself. Arrange for your kids to be cared for at home, while you pack your suitcase for a night alone in a hotel room with a Jacuzzi hot tub and room service. Or, find a local day spa for mani/pedis, facials, massage, and other wonderfully exotic sessions to bring out the glowing, beautiful woman within you. She’s in there, and she is dying to become reacquainted with you.
Take advantage of opportunities to travel for business, retreats or other social activities where your children are not involved. Work on regaining your pre-pregnancy/parenting-personality. Go for a hike, or camp in the woods and find your natural balance.
Remember… after two hundred and twenty-five months of a child rearing career, we may find ourselves with an empty nest and no idea who we are individually.
Lock the Bedroom Door for a day. Hotels and spas can be a pricey expense for a regular escape, especially if you aren’t actually leaving town or in need of a beauty treatment. If you need a regularly scheduled day off to simply do nothing, learn to lock your bedroom door. It’s a grown-up version of “Time out”. In my home, we call them, “Mental health days”. Again, make sure your kids are being watched, or self sufficient for a specific amount of time, and simply take a day off. Watch TV, nap, read, eat, nap again… do whatever you need to do to feel rejuvenated to rejoin your family unit.
Tip: On days like these, it’s best to find something constructive for the kids to do during the day. Some children, commonly younger ones, experience separation anxiety when they cannot be directly with a parent. As heartbreaking as it seems to deny a child contact, it is vital for a child’s development to be able to spend time away from one parent, in order to form bonds with other trusted people.
What if you cannot get a day off, but you really, REALLY need one? Try taking just a few hours, or a few minutes. I have found meditation and nutrition to be important factors in keeping my energy levels consistent and psyche grounded. When that doesn’t cut it, I turn to comfort food.
Eat the cake. Even the most disciplined of healthy eaters get tempted. Don’t lose the staring contest you are having with that cupcake in the case. If you don’t eat it, someone else will. It’s torte torture! Enjoy your moment, and your calories! Of course, to maintain a healthy lifestyle you don’t want to do this everyday; although, you can substitute your favorite nutritious food in place of the cake for balance. It’s up to you, it’s your moment, not your waistline’s.
Eat the candy in the closet, too. I have a stash. Don’t you? Just knowing this stash exists relieves my restless feelings of losing control. Sneak in there and indulge on a piece of heaven. No one needs to know, and therefore no sharing. No closet? Hide candy in a box of rice, or something visually unappealing on the shelf that you can guarantee the kids won’t touch with a ten foot pole.
Just Say No. It’s as simple as that, right? Wrong. Saying “No” is a very difficult thing for many people. It can stem from a variety of triggers such as guilt, a “need to please”, feeling obligated, or required to go above and beyond, etc. But, why don’t we ever hold these feelings and expectations towards our own self care? Why do we (especially we as parents) often disregard our own needs as selfish, or unnecessary? We are programmed to care for our family as our top priority, and taught it’s best to share and be generous. If you are generous to yourself and your personal needs, your children will learn the value of self-worth and will have higher overall self-esteem. So, whatever it is… a phone call, extra hours at work, impromptu dinner with emotionally needy people… decline, swipe left… SAY NO!
Raise the standards to which you hold your sanity and free time!