A few weekends ago my hero husband took six children on a Father/Child Fishing Day at our friend’s ranch. There were many other dads and kids there that day from our church, and my husband ended up with six because he took our three teenagers, one son’s girlfriend, and our two nephews. He is a great guy. This left me free to do whatever I wanted. I resisted the urge to do all the things I needed to do and purposefully worked on doing what I wanted to do. Looking ahead at the calendar I knew that the opportunity to have my own agenda for a day was not going to be on the calendar again for some time,so I took it.
The next evening I was chatting with a younger mother of a toddler and four month old about what I did on my day off and she said, “I would love to get away for a day.” Well, most moms cannot spend a whole day away; at least not very often, but there are some things you can do throughout the day/week to help you feel like you are getting a little break. I tried hard to think of all the things I have done throughout the years to give myself a break. While this list won’t appeal to everyone, I hope it will at least spur you on to be creative and to look for opportunities to “escape” for a few moments each day. Escape is really about feeling like you have left your routine for a bit. I believe you can do this mentally without having to do it physically. The benefit of “escaping” is giving your mind a break for a moment so that you are re-engergized for your real life. Here are my first five:
- Quiet Time. I have to start with this one because it was given to me by a mom of four and it helped me and my children so much. About the time your children stop needing naps, institute quiet time. Separate the children in different rooms, if possible. Set a timer and tell them they cannot get down from the bed, chair or sofa until the timer goes off. Let them have books or a puzzle or a stuffed animal to play quietly with. Start off with 20 or 30 minutes on the timer and train them until they can stay quiet up to an hour. During this time, you have quiet time! Read your Bible, a book or just close your eyes and put your feet up. This is how I learned to power nap, setting my alarm for 20 minutes and then finishing quiet time doing other things I wanted/needed to do. We continued this with school aged children during the summer, the older kids loved it!
- Nightly Routine. This one is hard but establish a nightly relaxing routine for yourself. Try and do the same thing each evening, even if you have to shorten the time a bit. Once the children are in bed, or if you have a young baby who perhaps stays up later, have dad care for the baby while you unwind. Play some relaxing spa type music. Take a hot shower or bath with epsom salts and essential oils. Take care of your face and teeth and whatever else and read the Psalms and then one chapter of a fun book. If you get in the habit, you can accomplish this in as little as thirty to forty five minutes. It will be time well spent. If you are exhausted, shorten everything, skip the chapter and go to sleep!
- Listen to something healthy. Sometimes when you are a stay at home mom, you just need to hear an adult voice. Today you have so many options. When my children were young, we had a new Christian radio station in the area which was listener supported (no ads). I could listen while I did my work and it was safe for my children to hear. This station had programs like Focus on the Family and Family Life Today and a show from the late Elisabeth Elliot. They were all good and supportive of what I was trying to do; be a good wife and mother. Today, you can listen to books on Audible, good music, radio programs from all over and fascinating podcasts. I don’t recommend having these on all day, you need to listen to your children of course, but having a time each day to listen to something that is uplifting and appropriate can really spur you on to keep at it.
- Read something healthy. Keep a Bible open in your home somewhere. Read a scripture as you walk by or dust around it. Keep a good book about motherhood, or even a fictional book (not a romance novel) that is a quick escape, but will not be discouraging in any way, nearby. This is really hard with tiny ones, however it is interesting how you can sometimes grab a few paragraphs while waiting on something else. I used to read sometimes while nursing the babies. Keep in mind, to not get so wrapped up in the book that you don’t interact with your child. They need to see your eyes looking into theirs! I am talking about short little escapes (5 or 10 minutes) that keep you plugging along.
- Go for a walk. One of the blessings in getting to care for your children is that they need exercise and fresh air and providing it is part of your job! Go for a walk or to a park. Meet up with another mom. Get some social time for yourself while doing something good for your child. This is really hard for those in an isolated place. We lived two miles from our closest neighbor, five miles from anyone with children and 20 miles from our church and schools. There were a lot of lonely days for the kids and me, however we did acres of play space. I did have a couple of friends to talk on the phone to, but because we were in the same boat, we would always hang up if either on of us had children who needed us . Don’t talk on the phone all day mamas, but a little is good for you!
I hope this list gives you encouragement that if you look for it in your day, you can give yourself some little “escapes” until the day comes when you can truly take a day off. Hang in there mom, what you are doing matters! Be sure and comment and let us know what your favorite “escapes” are. Your idea might be helpful to someone else.