Why every mom deserves five minutes peace.
When I was pregnant with my first daughter, a dear college friend who was ahead of me in the mommy world gave me a tiny book called “Five Minutes Peace” by Jill Murphy. The story recounts an elephant mom, Mrs. Large, who longs for just a few minutes away from her darling children, but Lester, Laura and the baby have other ideas as they follow her and try to join in her “fun.” In a personal note written at the front of the book, my friend wished me many slivers of peace, and I didn’t realize then that she was warning me how elusive, few and far between they would be.
The message from this tiny book rings true no matter how many children you have or how old they are. As we become immersed in the busy-ness of every day, it’s often hard to remember to save a moment or two for ourselves; to rejuvenate and take a mental, physical and emotional break from what is sometimes a dizzyingly-fast-paced-whirlwind-of-a-life. Unfortunately, overextending ourselves can leave us spent and exhausted, and parenting challenges become magnified. The result is we can begin to suffer from anxiety, depression, insomnia or a short temper. I have learned that it’s not selfish to take some “me time.” In fact, it is important and psychologically refreshing to recharge and balance the mommy-child time with me-time so both will thrive. After all, a rested, relaxed and empowered parent is better prepared to stay calm when life gets crazy.
How do we break the cycle of over-extending without feeling uncomfortably selfish? Here are some guilt-free ways to get your own five minutes peace:
Have support systems: Call on the help of family, friends and neighbors; swap childcare time for personal time.
Simplify your to-do list: When you lighten your commitment load, there are more opportunities for personal time. Learn that it is OK to say “no” once in a while. Don’t over-schedule your children’s activities, and learn to include fun family activities into your day.
Plan “me-time” in advance or sneak it in: Schedule personal time or change your daily routine to find time for yourself. Be creative with opportunities during the day where you can steal a few moments for yourself. Try relaxing, reading, meditating, gardening—whatever you enjoy—while the kids are napping; the laundry and dirty dishes will wait for you! Get up earlier than you normally do and revel in the peace and quiet.
Give yourself permission: You can and should take me-time and enjoy it without feeling guilty. Believe that you deserve it! Allow yourself to rest and unwind. You will become a better, more patient parent because of it.
Everyone needs to recharge and reconnect, especially busy moms. Rather than feeling guilty for taking a break, give yourself credit for the great job you do every day. Feeling bad or guilt-ridden about some downtime doesn’t help you or your family, and will negatively impact your precious free time. Me-time is a good thing. Take five minutes peace (or more!) and be proud that you are putting balance and sanity back in your life.