The Mom-Break Myth

Joy Petersen honestly

The kids are fighting for the millionth time. The chores need done for the millionth time. The laundry sits and waits for my attention for the millionth time.

Someone is hungry, someone is thirsty, someone is climbing something they shouldn’t, and I am feeling tired. This mom-life gig is hard. It is monotonous and every little thing I do seems small and yet huge all at once. It is small to cut an apple; it is huge to raise a soul. It is small to wipe a counter; it is huge to hold a heart. It is small to change a diaper; it is huge to shape a character. The physical, emotional and mental energy required daily in motherhood is taxing to say the least. No wonder we need a mom-break.

If I could just have a day off. If I could just get a weekend away, then I would be able to return refreshed and recharged to do this mom-job well. Sound familiar?

If you are anything like me, you have had these thoughts before. You coordinate the sacred day off or perhaps if you are lucky, you were able to line up sitters or grandparents and actually took that weekend away. You feel refreshed. The world is bright and new, and all things are beautiful again. Upon your return you come walking in the door and all the little, beautiful arms wrap around your neck and for a brief and I mean brief, moment, the world is bliss. The birds are singing, the breeze is blowing, and you are the embodiment of joy.

Fast forward five minutes … you have had some time to assess the environment: there are chores to be done, groceries to be purchased, meals to prep. The kids begin letting down all their pent-up emotions, the ones they have held in during your time away. The behavior-reversal training seems intense, daunting even. I call this detox. There is always a detox to be paid.

But you are still feeling good. You can handle this because you are the new you. The calm, relaxed, have-it-all-together parent. Fast forward to day 2 … you are feeling tired – again. Real life has come back in hard, full swing and you remember why you needed that mom-break in the first place. Perhaps you begin plotting your next mom-break.

I learned a few years ago, when I am burned out, a mom-break is nice, but what I really need is a restructure in my day-to-day life. The demands of motherhood are endless, but they are not going away, so how can I best function within those demands? How can I create a life that I do not have to escape from? How can I best steward the days that God has given me?

Here are a few ways I like to reset my day to day:

Evaluate your daily schedule. Are you doing too much? Do you need to cut back? Or, are you doing too little? Do you need to invest some effort in getting out? Maybe a Bible study or a class?

Carve out some daily quiet for yourself. Wake up early. Put the kids to bed early. Set a quiet time for your family, an hour where everyone retreats for quiet play or reading.

Exercise. Make it a priority, as it is a huge stress relief.

Spend time in the Bible. God’s word is like healing balm to our weary souls and if ever you needed to hear from God, it is now, during motherhood. Go to the ultimate source of refreshment.

Be kind to yourself. We can all have a bad day. It is okay. Don’t spend hours of energy mulling over the ways you have failed, but rather, be quick to forgive yourself and move forward. This action alone can save so much of the emotional energy that wears us down as moms (hello, mom guilt).

Play. Play with your kids. When I am tired, weary and feeling burned out, sometimes I just scratch the schedule for the day. I take the day off to just play with my kids or watch them play, and enjoy my kids again.

Pause and practice gratitude. Life is sweet. It is a gift. Sometimes we need to pause and be present in the moment instead of wishing them away. Don’t grab the next dirty dish to clean, just sit and pause, and start thanking God for the kids that are overfilling your home. Gratitude brings a heart change and focus that no beach can.

Bottom line, the mom-break is great, but it is also a myth that a break will somehow bring balance into our daily lives. It isn’t sustaining. Go on your mom-break. Take a day off but keep it in proper perspective. If you are feeling burned out, remember to look for the root cause in order to bring about change that is sustaining.

 


Joy Petersen is a mom to three wild and wonderful children. She lives in the Denver area and enjoys chocolate, jogging and teaching her kids about Jesus. Find more at joypetersen.com.