I believe that self-care is an everyday activity that Mums need to make happen. But how do we do that when there are so many different things pulling at our time, emotions and energy. And yet if we don’t look after ourselves we won’t be able to deal with all those things that happen in our day. So this week we are looking at how does a busy mum take a break, how does she find time to recharge and rest in the middle of it all – how does she make it happen… keep listening and I’ll share my thoughts.
Taking Time to Rest and Recharge is not Being a Selfish Mum
Do you ever feel like you just want to hit the pause button – make everything stop so you can catch your breath. So you can just have a moment of peace. Most mums I know, myself included, get caught in that trap of staying up after everyone has gone to bed, just to catch that moment of quiet where no one has any demands on you. Of course that is unsustainable because we need our sleep as well!
Back when my kids were young self-care wasn’t the words we used – there was lots of talk about taking a break as a mum, and if that was legit or not. I really like how the discussion is now based on the idea of self-care – I have a few reasons for that:
- Words matter – We never stop being a mum – so to take a break from being a mum doesn’t really fit reality.
- Self-care is a thing – we have to look after our self, our being, if we are to continue to function in a healthy way.
- Being able to take a break to refresh and recharge is only one form of self-care – we need to be aware of the other aspects as well.
Self-care is such a big topic – and I’ll certainly continue to talk about this every so often here on the podcast, because I think it is important that we have right thinking about this topic. But for today we are talking about how do we find time to take a break from the responsibilities that are pulling at our time, energies and emotions so that we can recharge.
How can we have a moment of peace without sacrificing sleep?
Knowing what we Mean
First up we need to clarify what we are talking about when we talk about a break. We are not talking about leaving the kids, leaving the house, and treating ourselves to some alone time away from everything. That might be great, that might be able to happen every so often, but rarely does that happen on a daily basis. I’m talking about finding ways for daily time to refresh, recharge and revive.
Secondly, we need to acknowledge that there are different seasons in our parenting life and each season will bring different responsibilities, different limitations and different opportunities. We won’t be able to rest and recharge – or take a break – the same way every day, every week for every year of our parenting but there will be consistent opportunities we can take or make the most of. We need to see that we have options that are relevant to this season of life – and then we need to make the most of it so we can have times of rest on a daily basis.
We need an Attitude Change
When I changed my mindset about this I was able to have 1 hour to myself most days, even with 4 kids, homeschooling and my husband working away from home. So how did this happen?
I remember being cranky with Peter because he was intentional about resting on Sunday. It was his time-out, and he knew it was important for him to be refreshed for the coming week. And yet, Sunday for me, a mum with a toddler and baby was anything but restful. There is always nappies, bottles, baths, messes to clean up, and food to prepare – let alone getting to church and making sure all that happens!
As I was grumping at God about how unfair it was I heard God say to my heart – What are you going to do about it? You are the boss of your days, you can plan and prepare for whatever happens in your days – unlike Peter who has to answer to clients. How can you make rest days happen?
A few lessons I learnt as I responded to that prod:
- It is up to me to look after myself. Peter will support, encourage and help me when I need it – but ultimately I need to be responsible for the rest that my body needs. I need to make it happen.
- I can teach my children to entertain themselves so I can have a break, even though they are with me all day
- Find what works for me and our family within the circumstances we are in – Don’t compare how others take a break, and don’t get hooked on wanting what they have – what I perceive them to be able to do in terms of rest.
My recharge time is just as important as my child’s nap!
Make it happen:
The first thing I needed to do to make it possible for me to take time to recharge – regardless of what Peter was doing, was to train my children. My goal was to be able to take a break, every day, while Peter was at work.
Remember me saying – take the opportunities that present in your family for the season of life you are in ….
Well, when my children were little they had naps, then as they grew older, these naps transitioned into rest time, which then transitioned into room time (quiet play in their room, by themselves for a set period of time). These times were a natural time in our day that I could use to recharge – I took 1 hour a day to read, do crafts, nap or watch a movie – regardless of what else was happening around me. This was just as important as my children’s naps.
This didn’t just happen – I had to teach them to
- Play by themselves
- Problem solve by themselves
- Be content with their own company
These are important skills – regardless of who you are, and what age you are – but as the kids grew in each of these skills it gave me the freedom to have some alone time.
It’s like two birds with one stone – they were learning good focusing skills for themselves and they were practicing how to care for my needs – which was something we discussed in last week’s episode #34 – about teaching our children to see our needs just as much as we teach them to see the needs of other people. I’ll link that episode in the Show Notes so you can find it quickly.
Of course teaching them to be able to occupy themselves for an hour a day is something you work towards and keep in balance with their development and capacity. Its something you build up to gradually.
I’m not like you, I can’t do that…
Let me just quickly address the idea that we can’t have a break until all the housework is done. This is something that stops a lot of mums from taking time to rest and recharge. The housework will never all be done. There are people living in this house (there are people living in your house), those people have needs, they make messes, those people need our attention. There is always something to do.
Two things helped me get this sorted in my head – and helped me to look after myself as well as everyone and everything else:
- A time for everything and everything in its time. Taking a break while there are still things to be done isn’t lazy – it is recognising that this time block has a different purpose. Some of my day my main focus was on housework, I had some time where engaging with my kids was my focus, but for this one hour, my focus was on my well-being. A time for everything and everything in its time.
- Prov 14:4 Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest. (New Living Translation) We cannot have the joys of family life without there being stuff in the barn! This was a real clarity for me. The goal isn’t to have a perfectly tidy house. The goal is to have a family living in harmony in our home. And my challenge as a mum and homemaker was – am I doing things towards that goal?
Don’t be a Martyr
Mums tend to be martyrs – we do it to ourselves. Sacrificing for the benefit of others seems to be at the heart of being a mum – but I’m not sure that it is necessarily a good trait. We see it as noble, and yes, we do need to put the needs of others ahead of our own, but not to the point of exhaustion or bitterness. We need to be responsible stewards of the resources God has given us – and that includes our emotions and our energy: in essence – our whole being, our whole body.
Something that has helped me balance my needs with the needs of others is to make a distinction between need and want. I believe the standard we should follow is that other people’s needs come before my wants. But my needs matter too.
Benefits of taking a Break as a Mum
You probably know how taking a break will benefit you but let me just list them here so you can be sure that it will be a good thing for you.
- Reduced stress: I know I get overwhelmed by all the noise and busy. So having some rest time for everyone calms my senses down and reduces stress. Which means I’ll respond better through the day.
- Increased energy: Taking time out to rest and recharge can help you feel more energized so you’ll be more productive – you have more energy to do the things you need to do.
- Improved relationships: When you are refreshed you are able to keep giving to the people in your family, you are able to keep connecting and prioritizing relationships.
- Personal growth: Taking time out for yourself can help do something that you enjoy – I generally read, did craft of some sort, or learnt something new. These are the things that recharge me.
- Role modeling: Taking time out for yourself teaches your children the importance of self-care and helps them develop healthy habits for their own well-being.
Heart-focused Action Step:
So if it’s been a while since you feel you’ve found any time to yourself – big or small – go make a cuppa, set the kids up with an activity that will occupy them for 15-20minutes (yes screentime could be a good thing!!) and think through these questions:
Are you finishing your day well?
Do you take time throughout the week to rest and recharge? What about daily?
What type of activity recharges you? Do you know?
How can you make those activities happen more regularly?
And if you really can’t allow yourself to do something for yourself on a daily basis – then do some heart-thinking and ask yourself why? What is stopping you?
Do you need to rethink needs and wants issue – your needs, your children’s wants? Are they a bit jumbled making you feel like you just don’t have the capacity to give yourself a break.
Do you feel that you can’t stop unless everything is done and finished? What is behind this thought? Perfectionism? Performance? Identity? You label it for yourself.
Do you think taking a break makes you lazy? Are you lazy? Be honest about that!
There may well be another reason why you think you can’t take a break – think about that and write it down in your journal.
Think through your answers, pray about them, ask God for insight about what’s going on in your heart and what choices will honour him.
If this is something you struggle with, if it is something you want and you don’t know how to make it happen in your day – why don’t you book a free Jumpstart coaching call – or shoot me an email and we can talk it through and help you find strategies to make it happen!
The best thing about these 5 quick breaks is that they can happen with your kids in your house! Keep reading to find out how!
The best thing you can do is teach your children to play by themselves, to problem solve and to enjoy their own company.
You do this by starting with small amounts of time, where you are unavailable for playing with them. It might be playpen time, or table time, or room time (depending on the age you start teaching this.)
Gradually increasing how long they can play by themselves.
PLUS: You teach them that you are a person with needs, and one need you have is to have uninterrupted time – so it is one way they can show you deference or love – is by playing by themselves.
Do your children have time where they play by themselves without you?
We need to stop thinking that self-care is selfish. Self-care is about taking care of our overall well-being.
Self-care doesn’t immediately mean we put ourselves first either. It means we put our needs into the mix with the needs of everyone else in our family. And work towards doing what is healthy for everyone.
We need to get to a place where we acknowledge our need for self-care instead of thinking that our needs don’t matter, or our needs have to always come last.
When we take care of our spiritual, moral, emotional, social, intellectual, and physical well-being, we are better able to handle the day-in and day-out challenges of being a mum.
Do you struggle to make the time for the things you know will recharge your body and soul?
Are you telling yourself to live by these rules? You need to stop – these rules aren’t doing you any favours. Though being a mum is 24/7 we can take a break and do the things that refresh us. We have to remember that we are a person. We are not a role. And that person is human – and has needs – just like every other person you are caring for. So stop living by rules that aren’t healthy. Stop living by different rules than you encourage other people to live by ( we all do it – tell our best friend what they need, and yet not be prepared to do it ourselves!)
Why you Need to Prioritise Rest Time, Even as a Busy Mum: As a busy mum it is hard to find time to rest but rest actually helps us do our job better so we need to!
You can’t do it all: Sometimes you Need to Ask for Help: Asking for help is hard but sometimes we need to acknowledge that we can’t do it all and we have to be honest and brave enough ask for help.
Finding the Balance when There’s so Much to Do: How do we find the balance between relationships, responsibilities and rest?
Do you Teach your Children that you too are a Person? We want our kids to be others focused but who are the ‘others’ in our child’s life? When you see that you too are one of the others; it changes your parenting.