Why do Mums struggle to take time-out?
Parenting is a tough gig so why do we, as Mums, rarely allow ourselves a time-out? If we had a friend who was running on fumes and needed some help one of the things we might recommend to them is taking some time away from family life to find a way to boost their energy – physically, mentally and emotionally. However, not many of us actually do this ourselves. We battle on month after month, year after year. Let’s talk more about parental self-care. This is anything parents intentionally do to look after their own health or well-being.
My time-out story
As I write I am sipping my morning coffee and eating avo on toast in silence – No kids screaming or shouting my name- I love my kids dearly but the silence is very nice! The boys are having some time away with their dad to visit family, and I’m having a break from the responsibilities of being a mum. To recalibrate – to be a better mum and I’m sure it’s good for them too.
But because time away from the kids is seen as a choice, Mums often fear the judgment of being away from their kids. Having children is probably the most rewarding, yet demanding experience one can go through. Being a parent is certainly a rollercoaster of mixed emotions.
This is the longest I have been away from the boys and feels very strange to be without them but I have decided to take the opportunity to look after ME.
The build-up to the boys going away wasn’t easy, knowing I wouldn’t see them for 2 weeks. I made sure I jam-packed my first weekend without them with lots of exciting activities.
I took the opportunity to have fun and it felt amazing – I felt free!
What are the benefits?
Time away it’s not everyone’s idea of fun and certainly wasn’t mine but it has given me time to:
- breathe (because we often don’t)
- think (uninterrupted thinking is incredible)
- exercise (on my timetable)
- swim (movement I love but don’t often get to do)
- work un-interrupted hours (the freedom to choose when I work)
Time away from the kids is often seen as a choice and it can cause much debate amongst mums, but I know from personal experience now that there are so many benefits.
In all of my work roles, I have always been consistent in taking annual leave to rest – except the one where I need it the most: being a Mum.
Taking a break from mothering is a great example to our kids and shows them we also must look after ourselves to avoid burnout – it doesn’t mean we don’t love our kids. It means that we love ourselves too and we show them that.
You can’t take care of anyone else unless you first take care of yourself – Michael Hyatt
How do Mums take time-out?
Well, this part is going to be up to us. We need to make that change!
It doesn’t have to be a 2-week holiday in Bali (that would be nice). It could be as simple as:
- a day trip to the beach with your best mate
- a night away in a hotel to switch off and restore
- grabbing a coffee with a friend
- watching the sunset
- walking along the beach
- a long hot shower or bath
We often ask each other at the school pick-up:
Are you going anywhere with the family for Xmas?
What are you doing with the kids over the holidays?
It’s time to change the narrative. Instead, ask your Mum friends:
What are you doing for yourself over the holidays?
How can you make sure you doesn’t burn out from looking after the kids for 6 weeks?
Taking a break from parenting doesn’t mean we don’t want to be a mum, but being a mum is not all that we are.
So, let’s make a change, and look after you!
Emma has two boys and she got through the early days of motherhood by being outdoors exercising with other mums. In May 2020 she became a MumSafe Trainer and works in Buderim and Maroochydore areas on the Sunshine Coast.