I am a stay at home mother, so that means that I am always surrounded by kids.
They constantly want something from me and sometimes I just want a break from it all.
I never knew that parenting would be so hard.
But, most days I can’t just take a break or have help. My husband works full time and I don’t have family in town. I don’t have the luxury to have a break whenever I want.
But, over the years, I have found ways to take a break or reset even with my 3 kids around.
The best weapon in my life is prayer.
When I was a teenager, the Lord helped me establish a great prayer life. Due to it, it is easy for me to ask God to help me in the day.
When I am at my wits end and need patience- I pray.
When I am tired and need energy- I pray
When my kids come home with problems and I don’t know what to do- I pray
When my kids are too loud and I am on the verge of screaming- I pray
Praying gives me a short time out. It helps me to breath, calm down and refocus. Prayer lets me escape the here and now and brings me into the presence of God.
I can pray anywhere in the house at any time.
There is no limit to how often I pray, how long or even in what I pray about.
Listen to music
One of the things that helps me calm down is listening to music. My kids are full of energy and jump all around the house.
To keep me calm and to get out their energy I will turn on some music. Sometimes it’s my guilty pleasure music like Coldplay, or ‘What Does the Fox Say.’
These songs help my mood change to silly instead of frustrated.
Music is a great way to take a break from the fighting or craziness because it gets everyone to sing along. The music helps all of us burn off energy and changes the mood in our home.
Take a nap
My first child was very active and high energy. She would run around all over and climb anything she could.
Due to her high energy and my lack of sleep I needed regular naps.
I got really good at childproofing my house and “sleeping” while my child played.
These naps were never deep sleep times, I always had my ear open for trouble. These were times where my body could lie down and relax and take a break.
I also heeded the advice: sleep when baby sleeps.
This is much easier done with one child but can still be done when you have more than one.
Choosing to nap meant that the dishes were not done and the bathroom was not clean but I felt rested. For me, rest always won over having a clean house.
I know others feel different but for me sleep is very important to me.
When other kids entered the picture, I would nap when I could or found ways to rest my body.
This might mean sitting on the couch reading books together, or putting on a show.
Go to the other room
Sometimes my kids are being too loud and I need to escape.
Our house is small and there are not too many places to hide, but one thing I can do is go to another room.
If your kids are like mine, they might like to follow you, but you can always insert a lock in the bathroom door or your bedroom door.
Separating yourself from your kids by even one room will decrease the noise and help you gain focus and take a minute to yourself. Just a minute, or five, is all you need to recharge.
When I first had my daughter, she screamed a lot! It was hard to listen to it all day long.
In that time, my mother gave me great advice.
She told me: put the baby in the crib and go outside.
When babies continually cry and we are tired it’s easy to get frustrated and overwhelmed. These conditions are a perfect storm to have a parent shake a baby or take out frustrations on a child.
We know that shaking a baby is bad and we should not do it, but we often don’t have a plan and get easily overwhelmed.
So, put a plan in place. If the screaming of your baby or child is just getting too much, put your baby down in the crib where he is safe, and take a couple minutes to go outside.
Yes, your baby is still screaming.
But it’s just going to be for a couple minutes.
This time outside will give you time to take a deep breath or whatever you need.
In the long run, your baby is safer in the crib for a few minutes than in your arms.
After you have spent a short time outside and you feel safe to hold your child again, go back in.
If it has been 20 minutes and you still don’t feel safe around your child, it’s time to ask for help.
But, there are also other times in the day you can leave a space.
There have been many times when I am getting my kids into the car and all 3 of them are screaming.
After they are all buckled in, I take a few long moments to stand outside the van with the door closed.
I know my kids are safe and I am close by but I have given myself a space to breath and take a minute to recoup and get ready for the drive or task ahead.
Ask for help
As a mother, it’s hard for me to ask for help. It makes me feel like I am not worthy of being a parent and that I just can’t do it.
Sometimes I can’t. It’s ok if you can’t do all things and need help.
We all need help at one point or another.
As a mom, it’s important to have people you can call that can help you. They might not be able to come over right away, but they can help you calm down and make a plan.
There have been many days where I have been moments away from calling my husband and demand he come home and help. It has never come to that, but there have been days where he wanted to go out and I have said no.
But help can come in many ways. You can make meals ahead, or have a weekly night out, or even have someone come over and help you clean or cook.
Help can also come in the form of advice. There are many people you know that have been a parent longer than you. Maybe their child experienced the same problems yours have and can give you advice. You can also connect with other moms online, in groups such as the Momalot group on Facebook.
Asking for help is not a sign of failure, it’s a sign of wisdom and strength. The wisdom to know you need help and the strength to ask for it.
When I had my first child, we lived in a small 2-bedroom apartment. If we wanted a change of scenery we had to go down 7 floors and go outside or go to a playgroup.
Now, we live in a townhouse. It has a basement, a main floor and an upper level. Whenever the kids are getting too cranky, we change floors. We go play downstairs. If they get too tired of that then we go back upstairs.
Sometimes just a change of scenery will help a small child change their attitude and have a better day.
I have always said that stairs have magical powers. By going up and down stairs little kids change places in the house but they also sometimes change behavior. Going to a new room does not have the same effect. For this to work, it has to involve stairs.
I love to read and I try to read every day. I always have a book on the go and on the hunt for a new book to read. If you also love to read, I invite you to check out the Best Parenting Books You’ll Want to Read Again and Again
Reading gives me the ability to escape my present situation and enter the world my book is written in.
I can read with kids in my lap or with them playing nearby. I can pick up a book and read to them. Reading to our kids can have a calming affect on us, and them – not to mention reading to our kids has a lasting effect on them.
Do something you love
One thing that helps me stay sane is by doing things every day that I love. I try and find the time to have some Me Time.
Some days I can’t leave the house so I do things at home that keep my mind occupied and focused on something else besides parenting.
This is one of the main reasons I started blogging. I love to write and think things through but I don’t like writing for no reason.
Blogging seemed like a good way to keep my mind sharp and to share with people what I was thinking about.
I can sit and write a blog post in the living room while my children play.
For you, it might not be reading or writing, but it’s just as important to find something you love and can do at home.
I know many women who love to draw, paint, sew, knit, and so on. Any activity you can do at home that you love is a great escape from the normal everyday.
Have a friend over
My husband and I share a car, so most days I am home without a car and can’t go very far.
Since I can’t always leave the house, I will sometimes have people come to me.
I love having people over. It helps me keep my house cleaner and gives me a break from being home alone.
It also is a way for me to have adult conversation in the day.
Having play dates may seem like more work for people, but for me, its a break from the normal everyday schedule and makes the day and week feel shorter.
Have a night out
My husband has a weekly date with his guy friends. It’s part of the schedule and we plan around it.
For some reason, I have a hard time doing the same for me.
I don’t have a weekly night out but I do try to go out with friends at night a couple times a month. This might be going for coffee or something else.
Sometimes my nights out consist of school meeting or other commitments. These nights are still work, but it’s a good time for me to get away from the house without kids and have a night off from putting the kids to bed or making supper. It also gives me a chance to connect with other moms.
I am not sure what your week looks like, but try to find time in your week were you can get out of the house.
Have a weekend to yourself
When we first had children my husband and I decided that we should have one weekend away together a year and that I should have one weekend alone without the kids every year.
So far, we have been able to do that.
Each year I get one weekend without kids.
Most years, this weekend involves me going to a women’s retreat.
But, one year, my husband took the kids away to his mother’s for the weekend and I spent the weekend home alone.
It was completely glorious.
These weekends don’t have to be expensive nor do they have to be complicated. They just have to be a few days here and there that you are without kids.
It’s amazing how 24 hours without kids will do for you. I usually come back home rested and recharged.
This too Shall Pass
The biggest thing that helps me take a break is my changing the way I think about my day. The most active part of my body is my brain.
My brain is so busy thinking about the kids, life and so on.
So, the easiest way I can take a break is by shifting my perspective.
When I get discouraged, I try to remember that this stage won’t last forever. It’s just a phase.
Whatever issues my kids are facing, or problems we are dealing with will not last forever.
I know that maybe right now you don’t like to hear that. I know there were days that I hated it when people said that to me, but it’s true.
I promise you, this too shall pass!
I know that reading that does not help you right now.
Right now you are tired and you need a break. You need your kids to give you one minute of solitude. Knowing that hey won’t always be there does not help the here and now.
But, shifting our perspective and reminding ourselves that we won’t always be dealing with the same problems is a great way to give us peace of mind and enjoy the present.
There are many ways we can take a break in the day.