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Challenge: Taking Care of YOU

5 Ways to Spend a Much-Needed Mommy (or Daddy) Break

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As a stay at home mom one thing I have learned is that for my own mental well-being–and because I love my family–I need to have some regular breaks to refuel myself as a person. In the beginning I didn’t always know how to spend these breaks. I longed to be more like my husband, who has always loved fly fishing. “What do I like to do?” I would ask myself. The sad truth was that I had lost a lot of who I once was to motherhood. Now, after nine years of doing this stay at home mom thing I have come to figure out some activities that I think are beneficial for a parent who is finally getting a much-needed break-however short or long it may be.

1. Take a scenic drive and blast some good tunes. (or relish the complete silence)

When I first became a licensed driver, I couldn’t stand to drive in my car without some background noise. The radio, or a carefully crafted mixed tape (showing my age a little here) was an essential companion in my little Ford Escort. Now that I am a mom to three boys, being able to drive anywhere in complete silence feels like an indulgent retreat. Just taking a quiet drive–alone–can be a great way to refuel. Sometimes though, I relish in the freedom of being able to listen to whatever music I want, as loudly as I want. Nothing like a little Led Zeppelin and the wind in my hair to make a mom feel alive.

2. Enjoy a meal

It’s become a cliché, but for good reason. A mother is never able to enjoy a hot meal, or is always the last one to eat. That is why when I get a break I won’t hesitate to sit down at a quiet restaurant (by myself usually) and savor a meal free from interruptions. Sometimes I bring reading material, but don’t let the fear of being alone deter you. There is freedom to be found when you realize you can do things on your own, and even enjoy them.

3. Go shopping, and try on clothes

Most moms I know have become exclusive online shoppers. I get it, taking kids to the store is exhausting and typically unproductive; especially if you are shopping for somebody other than them. So, when I get a break I love to hit up my favorite stores and actually try on clothes instead of attempting to eye whether or not something will fit me right. I also find I make better purchasing decisions when I’m not desperate to leave a store before one of my kids has a full-on lying-on-the-floor tantrum or breaks something. Most of the time I still end up buying items for my kids instead of myself, but at least I am able to enjoy the process.

4. Spend some time with a good friend

Since I spend the vast majority of my time in my house with my children it is a treat to have a conversation with another adult without being interrupted-especially if that person is a good friend. The best kind of friend is one you can be really open with and not have to worry about putting on airs or presenting a photo-shopped view of your reality.

5. Revisit a hobby or just do something you enjoy. (like sleeping!)

I gave up on a lot of my hobbies when I became a mother. Fatigue, stress, and putting my family first were my excuses but I soon learned that I needed to take better care of myself to better care for my family. It is important for mothers to continue to remember who we are outside of being a mom, and it will benefit our family as well as ourselves. So, whether you are a runner, dancer, athlete, artist, chef, or just want to go a movie that isn’t rated G, do what you love! It will teach your kids to find their passions when they see you pursuing yours. Or if you are lucky enough to have some peace and quiet, do nothing at all and take a nice nap!

Taking regular breaks allows me to be a better wife, mother and all around person. Sometimes I still feel a little lost when I first walk out that door and things seem to be almost too quiet. But then I head down the road–turn the radio up–and remember that I deserve time to myself to reset. It allows me to fully appreciate the love I receive upon my return.

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