Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
When my first daughter was one year old, two friends of ours (a newlywed and childless couple) came to visit. It was the first time we met after my daughter was born.
While men were busy with their own conversation, my friend started telling me how stressed I looked, and that I needed a break. She went on and on about how I needed to take a break for at least 15 minutes.
The only reason I survived through that conversation with a smile was a thought of her becoming a mother one day too, (I was keeping my fingers crossed for the twins)!
As a mother, you don’t get a break.
Pregnancy, giving birth, all the hormonal changes and weight gain are challenges enough to stress you out.
But I think the most important challenge of motherhood is that for the first time in your life, you really – entirely and for good - have to set yourself aside and give priority to somebody else… 24/7.
Being a mother is not something you can do part time. Somebody else is ruling your life!
With all the books you’ve read, you thought you were prepared for this, but you’ve never (never!) thought it would be that hard - this feeling of being responsible for somebody else all the time.
When they are babies…
…hormones are still taking you on a roller coaster. You are happy and depressed at the same time, so full of joy for having your baby, and so scared of how much your life has changed!
When they are toddlers…
…you don’t exist separately from them. Your toddler owes your life, your time and your energy, and anything else you might think has ever belonged to you. And man, is it tiring!
When they are sweet little kids…
…you can finally have meaningful conversation, and you discover your child anew. They think they know better, and to give them a lesson you let them do it on their own. So it takes you 2 hours to get ready and leave home after the shoelaces finally done. And yet, they still need you for everything!
When they are teens…
… all the hormone ups and downs, first love and “the must have” conversations really make you miss them as toddlers. But now they are the super busy kids that need a personal assistant to master the day, but you barely see them anymore. And you miss them even more!
And when they are finally all grown up…
… you realize that they will always be your kids, and you will always be their mom, thinking about them, worrying about them and wishing them the best.
And you navigate through all these stages always being there, for the good moments and for the bad ones.
To support, to give confidence, to talk, to listen, to drive (and drive, and drive!), and just to be there when needed, putting your own needs aside.
And you do it gladly, because you know it is worth it, and there is no other place you would rather be.
But man, are you exhausted!
You do try taking a break sometimes. Go out with your friends one evening. Sit down in the kitchen with a cup of coffee while your kid is napping. Or simply sit on a sofa in the living room and stare at the wall.
But your mind is not at peace. You are going through your endless todos, planning and worrying, worrying and planning, feeling guilty that you have so much to do and yet you are “sitting there doing nothing”.
So even if you get a break, you actually don’t.
Because as a mothers, you don’t get a break.
And this is why it is so important you TAKE it.
What happens if you don’t take a break?
When you are in that loop of obligations, stress, self-infringing responsibilities, duties and a long list of mom’s todos, chances are that at some point something is going to break.
You might get too deep so slowly that you might not even realize it until it is too late. Or it might happen so sudden and be so big that it will be really scary.
What happens if you don’t take a break?
When you stressed, your body secretes higher doses of the stress hormone cortisol, which, in turn, causes higher insulin levels making your sugar level drop for you to crave fat and sugary foods.
This basically means that when you are stressed for a longer period of time, you are likely to gain weight.
And the worst part of it is that the weight you’ll gain will be at the worst place it could possibly be: Your belly. According to this research, the stress-induced cortisol response leads to increase in abdominal fat for women – the worst type of fat, because it wraps around your vital organs.
You won't believe it, but a simple time out exercise can help you prevent stress or manage those daily situations when you think that you are not in control, reducing stress (and, thus, your cortisol level) by helping you connect with yourself.
Research shows that connecting with yourself helps get rid of that feeling of not being you, as if you are a part of somebody else, and has many other benefits.
According to this article, connecting with yourself will help you:
- feel inner fulfillment.
- share your love, instead of waiting for someone to fill the void in you.
- experience happiness and joy more often.
- manage your stress levels.
- better regulate yourself, instead of turning to addictions as a strategy to manage painful feelings.
- be more compassionate.
- be more passionate and creative, rather than bored.
Let me show you how to do it.
How to take a break if you can’t afford one?
Find a good time for it.
I know, I know is never a good time!
Ok, let’s rephrase it. Just find a less bad time of your day, where you can spare 5 to 15 minutes just for yourself.
It might be early in the morning, right after waking up but before starting your day. Or at night, right before sleep. Or while carpooling your kids. Or at the ballet reception when your kid is still changing clothes.
Just some time that works for you. It might be a different time every day, which it doesn’t really matter as soon as you do this every day.
It can be only 5 min if that’s all you can spare (although 10 to 15 minutes would be even better).
Sit down, close your eyes, relax your muscles
Sit down or lie down, and close your eyes. Don’t move, don’t do anything. Let your muscles relax, from head to toes.
Start with your head and your face. You won’t believe how much tension accumulates in your face! Then move to your shoulders and neck. You'll notice how much tension is there.
Keep going on through your whole body, paying attention to hands and feet, which also tend to be very tense without you even realizing it.
Then feel the energy inside you and let it go. Do not interfere. Let the energy flow through your body.
Let your thoughts flow
Don’t think. Let the thoughts flow through you. Don’t move. Just let everything be.
Sometimes when you just accept that some things are the way they are meant to be, and there is nothing you can do about them, things tend to move to the right direction. Because it is our negative energy that blocks the right way for the things to happen without us being aware of it.
Steer your energy in one direction
And then, just at that moment when your thoughts are flowing though your relaxed body think about the ONE thing and only one that you really want to happen. Visualize it, focus on that one thing, and let the energy flow in that direction.
Open your eyes and notice how good it feels to stop everything and pay attention to yourself, even if is just for 5-15 minutes.
Be the mom you want to be
By respecting yourself, by giving yourself that time, by helping you feel better, you’ll become a better person - more relaxed, more patient and more respectful to others, including your kids.
Being a mom is the best thing in the world, but being the mom you want to be starts by taking care of yourself.
You’ll be able to deal better with all the physical, psychological and emotional motherhood challenges if you feel in peace with yourself. And those 5-15 daily time out minutes that you take for yourself will help you achieve that state of peace.
Take good care of yourself, because...
Happy Mother’s Day,