We've all been there. It's the witching hour, that time after naps and before bedtime, or maybe after a skipped nap but still too early for bed. You look at the clock thinking maybe you'll just start the bedtime routine early but realize it's only 4 o'clock. There's still plenty of time left but you don't have plenty of energy, or patience, left. A baby is crying or a toddler is tantruming, and you literally cannot listen to it for one. More. Second. What do you do?
Sometimes you hide. Just for a minute. Maybe you go into the bathroom, put the toilet lid down, close the door and sit down. Scroll through facebook on your phone maybe. Maybe you just sit there and take a deep breath. Maybe for a minute or two you're still not totally sure how to get through the rest of your day without losing it because you have been up all night.
We've all been there. But how do we get there?
Being a good parent doesn't mean that you never need a break from your kids. Years ago when my oldest two were both still in diapers I vented to a friend (who, full disclosure, didn't have children) about needing time away from little ones, even just for a few hours. "Why did you have kids if you want to be away from them?" she asked. At the time, it pissed me off. BIG TIME. How dare she? It also made me feel extremely guilty, and like I was doing something wrong. Was there something wrong with me as a parent for needing to be AWAY from these children once in a while? Like away away, no diaper changing or feeding or burping or anything for a solid few hours, hell, even for overnight (okay a few days). And she had a point. I wanted kids, and I wanted to be a mom, so why was I fantasizing about sitting by a pool with a margarita on one side and a stack of books by the other, nary a toddler in sight?
Why was I fantasizing about it? Because I'm a normal person, that's why. But the guilt creeps in everywhere. If you work outside the home and don't see the kids during the week you feel guilty for taking some time off when you do get to see them. If you're a stay at home mom you feel guilty because this is "what you signed on for" when you became a stay at home mom (another gem a friend of mine told me). But time out from the kids is like putting money in your sanity bank. You may not need that night off this week, but taking the time out to recharge and relax even for a few hours might help you when you do need the extra patience. Waiting until you are hiding behind the bathroom door is too late.
So back to my original question, how do we get to that hiding behind the door point? It's by not taking a break. Now, before you're all like "I don't have time!" let me tell you, I get it. As a work from home mom of four, trust me, I get that. Sometimes a break doesn't happen, sometimes you're too tired to take a break (hopefully some of you will understand that), sometimes you just don't even really know how to take a break at this point. We all know the importance of taking "me time" but how much do you actually do it? Do you schedule "your time" around everyone else's schedule when it fits in (I read books while waiting for my daughter's riding lesson to be over rather than watch every minute-FOR SHAME!), or do you make it a priority?
And what if, when you finally get that break, you spend it worrying about the kids, or the things you have left undone at home? Does it even count towards making you a more relaxed parent? We have all had that dinner with our significant other where we spend the entire time talking about the kids, and while talking about the kids IS important, is that just an extended version of what we are doing at home?
I'm asking you guys these questions as part of the Mamatoga Meet Up Series, I want to find out how YOU would like to try to "un-plug" as a parent. What types of "time-outs" as a parent would help you recharge? I also want to explore ways local parents can find time to take a break, either from babysitting "swaps" or a "babysitter co-op", or a time where moms (or dads) can drop kids off and work out, relax, etc. So let me know in the comments, what are your biggest obstacles to taking me time, and if you had the extra time, how would you like to spend it?