Strategies for finding rejuvenating time off for mothers
Recently a dear friend of mine said, “Sometimes I just want to clock out from motherhood.” I could wholeheartedly relate to her frustration, as I have experienced it many times.
After a long day with her one-year old daughter, my friend went to take a bath. She quickly discovered that her drain plug had been commandeered by her little one and was nowhere to be found. In that moment she felt total defeat, not because she was angry or disappointed with her daughter but because her basic need to relax and wash away the day had been denied.
The only comfort I could offer was the reminder that she was not alone. Mothers everywhere are having their lives turned upside down by adorable little rascals.
But her story got me thinking about ways we mothers really can “clock out.” Let’s be frank: a mother, especially one of young children, is always on the job. I won’t even propose a true end to the mommy workday. However, I do believe that a happy, healthy mamma must take restorative breaks.
On a grand scale this could involve spa days, weekend getaways or a sensory deprivation tank. Day to day, however, breaks may look more like ear plugs, hot water and some well-deserved co-parenting or child care. Anything that restores peace of mind and a sense of nourishment is fair game.
Three ways I like to clock out
• Home Spa – One simple and easy way to get a break is to take a relaxing bath or shower. It’s easy because it’s in your home and requires limited time. I have lost count of the many times I have heard my mother friends and clients say, “When I just need a break I go into the bathroom alone and turn on the hot water and soak.” I have found that I have a few small requirements that make this experience truly refreshing:
1) The kids are being watched by someone else or are asleep
2) It is quiet enough (no loud crying, parenting interventions I may not agree with, or electronic devises can be heard)
3) Hot Water
4) A minimum of 30-45 minutes before I have to clock back in
•The Quick Getaway – This one seems to be particularly effective for days when I must get out of the house before I explode (or implode, depending on the day). All you need is a willing person to take over for 20-30 minutes. This can be done anytime, but I have found it most beneficial at the end of the day.
First, I perpare dinner so my husband can arrive home from work to a well-organized situation. Then, I call him as he is driving home and make sure he is prepared to back up my getaway plan. Upon his arrival, I hand off the kids, leash my dog and head out the door. Outside, I breathe in the fresh air and embrace the freedom of being alone in my thoughts and body. I wander around my neighborhood for 20-30 minutes. After my little break, I arrive home and eat dinner with my family. When the plan is effectively executed it can be blissful.
• The Buddy Pass – My dear friend and fellow mother of two and I were at the park together watching our three year olds play while entertaining our babies in our laps. I confessed that I had been longing to go to a movie all day. In response my friend whipped out her iPhone and began looking up movie times. After two quick calls to our spouses, who kindly agreed to watch the kids, we were on our way to frozen yogurt and a movie.
We found ourselves at the box office staring up at the movies with no idea what any of them were about. In our haste to organize our escape we had not looked at what was playing. We began asking young couples on dates what they were going to see, all the while giggling and enjoying the process. We both had a days worth of dirt and spit-up on our clothes.
The couples we approached treated us like strange, over-friendly “old people” who were very behind the times. It was great fun! We finally settled on a hilarious comedy that our 16-year-old ticket guy told us to see. We were only away from our families for a few hours but it was rejuvenating time well spent. There is nothing like camaraderie to let go of the mamma blues. It was a true experience of “clocking out.”
These ideas are mere suggestions. I would love to hear more ideas from you mothers reading this about how you clock out. If you find yourself reading this and can’t remember the last time you took a well-deserved break from the important and continuous job of motherhood … its time to clock out!
Caitlin FloodMoore is a psychotherapist in Boulder, Colorado, and a mother of two. Read her full bio here.