I’d bet you’ve heard a Mom say things like “I need a break!” or “I need a night to recharge,” or “I just need a night out”? Perhaps it came from your own mouth!
The general sentiment behind such things is that moms get stressed out carrying the load of their family and homes on their shoulders and need to escape from that load with something, well, less stressful than screaming, fighting, moody, destructive little people, who may or may not be able to communicate properly.Moms do need a break from time to time, whether a stay at home mom, working mom, or single mom. Moms are stressed and overworked and really just need a break, some Mommy me time, Mommy quiet time, Mommy alone time: in large part because we just crave silence, a moment to ourselves, as well as desire a sense of identity outside of “mom.” It’s why moms love bathroom breaks, nap time, bed time, showers, and girls night outs, especially for those stressed out stay at home moms. I am no exception!
And many people agree that when mom gets a break from her daily stresses and recharges, she is better able to carefor her family. She is happier. She is emotionally more balanced. Because if you are running on empty, how are you supposed to care for anyone else?
Moms Need a Break but the Type of Break Matters
Most mom escapes today appear in the form of blogging, social media, girls nights out, book clubs, exercise classes, pornography, books, manicures, pedicures, salon visits, massages, TV, movies, or shopping sprees. Regardless of what your “escape” of choice is, it is an escape, and some day, some hour, you have to come back to your real life.
And even though many of these escapes – exercising, dieting, developing talents, socializing, getting more sleep, or showering and dressing each day – can help you feel better emotionally or physically, they don’t necessarily equate better mothering.
Sure, you can be more patient after a weekend away, ready to tackle another day after a full night’s sleep, and more attractive after attending to your personal hygiene and appearance, but ultimately life will happen again. The unexpected occurs, again. Another end-of-the-world tantrum will erupt from your child, again. Then what will you do?
Will you again feel the pulls of needing to get away? Will you again be overwhelmed by your life?
Because here’s the truth – All the time away in the world won’t make a lick of a difference in your real, everyday life because you at your core aren’t different.
[Tweet “All the time away in the world won’t inherently make you a better mother.”]
Because, these “moms nights out” are a temporary fix for one’s happiness. It doesn’t matter how many nights you get a break, they won’t inherently make you a better mother.
Reevaluate Your Heart
May I suggest something?
Take a moment a reevaluate your Mommy me time: what is its purpose? How is it helping you be better person? A better mother? A better wife? Or is it just making you look like a better person, wife, or mom?
Are your mom escapes making it harder to enjoy your real life once you come back from those alone time highs? Are these escape ultimately pulling you further away from your home, your family?
[Tweet “Timeouts for Moms are only beneficial to her family if they aren’t rooted in a mother’s selfishness.”]
Check your heart: what is motivating your need to be alone and away from your family? Are you being selfish in demanding this time away? Is it positively or negatively affecting you in the long-run?
Is Your Alone Time Actually Rejuvenating?
As I evaluate my alone time during my days at home mom, I see that I am filling it with noise, with distractions, and with lots of multitasking. My alone time is often not rejuvenating!
When nap time happens, I am known to jump on my computer to work on the blog, where I then get distracted by about 15 different somethings – articles friends shared on Facebook, emails, blog comments, stats, Pinterest, Twitter, and my newsfeed. My Mommy alone time gets filled up with bleeps, sounds, alarms, and other things clamoring for my attention. My break from being a “stressed out stay at home mom” still contains stress as I multitask, answer emails, jump from one pin to the next, one friend’s update to yet another, complete errands, look up information, and pay bills. Social media and the internet can make me feel anything but social and happy. Often it gives me about 15 other people and problems to stress and worry about.
My brain didn’t get time to shut down, to recharge, to get that break I thought I was having! I got distracted during my precious, quiet, me time, that I felt even more overwhelmed by the end of my “me time” when my three children were again begging for my attention, again overwhelming and stressing me out.
I’m not as focused or recharged as I thought I should be given the fact that I just had a two or three hour break from answering “What?” to the dozen “Mom!”‘s I heard that morning.
In the midst of it all, I am simply left feeling even more disconnected from myself, my person, my identity past mother.
It’s no wonder why I feel like I still need yet another session of “mommy me time”: the time I was taking for myself didn’t recharge me or give me that rest I needed.
But, sometimes the best thing about having a blog is going back and reading your own advice, learning from your own past mistakes, reminding yourself that for at least a brief moment you had things figured things out.
Use Breaks to Recharge Your Heart, Spirit and Mind
I recently started reading the book Women Living Well: Find Your Joy in God, Your Man, Your Kids, and Your Home and am absolutely loving it and feel like it is exactly the kick in the pants that I needed to get my priorities back in order. It became clear to me that the type of “Mommy me time” I need is quiet devotion, something that feeds the soul. Something that does stand to make me a better mother, not just momentarily distract me from my life as a stay at home mom.
[Tweet “Mommy Me Time needs to make me a better mother. I need quiet devotion that feeds my soul.”]
It was humbling to read about the author’s amazing passion for scriptures, for prayer, for private devotion, because I have such need for improvement in those areas of my life. I’ve been slacking, being disengaged in true discipleship and hunger for God and His word.
It made me reflect on the time in my life when my quiet time as a mom was occupied by reading books, by doing Genealogy research, by service, by caring more for other people, including my children. And I miss that high-quality, quiet, reflective time, when I had better balance and order to what really mattered and left me feeling complete.
Discipline is one of the hardest things to master as human beings. And I am lacking a lot of discipline in my life right now to not let myself be in front of my computer to “blog.” I’ve been giving 100% of my devotion to my new business blog endeavor at the expense of my family, myself, and my God. My husband feels disrespected, my children feel neglected. And I feel confused. I’m confused as to what I’m supposed to be doing.
This work at home mom deal (I guess I should maybe consider myself that since I spend 30+ hours doing this here thing every week despite the very part-time paycheck) is difficult. It’s hard. Because my computer, my work, my passion calls and beckons to me every day. And I love it. But, shouldn’t my God, husband, and children’s beckoning be more important? Shouldn’t I be more passionate about them, then a temporal, temporary, aspect of my life? Shouldn’t I love working with them, for them, and about them? Shouldn’t I be more concerned about the quality of the time I spend with them than my other endeavors?
Yes. Absolutely, yes.
So, forgive me. I’m not perfect and I often repeat my own sins over and over. I forget to truly embrace the changes I’ve made in the past to make them habits for eternity.
Stay at home moms (as well as single and working mothers) need to reevaluate their mommy me time and gauge whether the purpose and use of these escapes is beneficial or detrimental.
It is my hope that we may all start devoting serious time on our knees praying for a changed heart, attitude, and perspective, that we may no longer see our homes, husbands, family, work, and children as burdens, as enormous stressors, which we must get away from. When you dedicate your life to the service of your children, your spouse, your home, and most importantly your God, you as a person will change into the extraordinary individual you were always destined to be.
I believe that if you and I spent more time truly disengaged from mind-numbing TV programs, endless updates online, and multi-tasking and instead slowed down enough to pray and devote time to God and to personal development, we would be better mothers, better wives, better Christians, better women, better individuals. We would not feel such a pull, such an obsession over mommy me time. Our lives would have balance.
It is my hope that you and I may find balance and happiness in our calling as mothers.