There is a truth that I learned a while ago, sometime in my motherhood journey. The truth is it’s impossible for me to take a bath. More specifically I cannot mimic the luxurious scene of someone peacefully resting in the bubble filled bathtub with candles and wine and the whole shebang.
I’ve tried, but this is what happens.
It’s 8:00pm and the kids are ready for bed but my baby is crying because she wants to nurse to go to sleep so I:
- Take a quick shower and nurse her in my pajamas while watching Schitt’s Creek until she falls asleep.
- Nurse her in my day clothes, wait until she falls asleep, and then sometime around 8:45pm, take a bath.
Which one would you choose? I always go for the first option.
The one scenario in which I do manage to take a bath is this one: My kids take a bath and I am about to lift the bath plug to empty it. However, I touch the water and it is still warm. In a two-second-quick run through in my head I decide that it is worth it just to save time and resources, so I proceed to immerse myself in the murky looking water (it’s fine, I convince myself) filled with toys, making sure not to sit on them, specially the dinosaurs with their menacing pointy tails that always seem to pinch me in the worst desirable spots. So there. Success! Finally I take a bath. Five minutes into it and I am already thinking of a shower to rinse off. Oh well, I tried.
If that was all the luxury I could get, my life would be pretty sad.
We may think that in order to get the much rest that we need, we have to set aside anything from thirty minutes to two hours a day. And we do need it, but it is not always possible to take such long breaks.
So instead of dreaming of long periods of rest and recovery, I once read an article that suggested breaking it down in shorter periods of time. I thought it was brilliant idea so I decided to apply it to my life. And that my friends, is how I manage to stay sane.
Here is a list of ideas that may help you in any given day.
- Wake up before your kids and have precious moments of alone time.
- Drink your favorite hot beverage. This treat can be cashed-in multiple times a day as needed.
- When you are driving somewhere, listen to something you enjoy. For me, since I almost always have little ones with me, I go for things we can both enjoy. Christian music, for example, has been a great option for us.
- Call a friend. Call your sister. Anyone you can have a laugh with if you need it.
- Reward yourself for tasks accomplished. As a working parent it can be a coffee break after sending a list of morning emails, and as a stay-at-home mom your break can be after putting clothes away. My favorite reward is getting a spoonful of Nutella. It may sound like a very “Pavlovian” idea but I swear it works.
- If you are a stay-at-home mom, think of house work as a workout and intentionally put more stamina into it. Not only will you do it faster, but it will also get your energy up. This works with vacuuming, sweeping, mopping, carrying laundry…okay pretty much everything. This doesn’t replace working out but it adds a certain punch to an otherwise dire activity.
- Take your time in choosing your clothes or your accessories. This can be your alone time before you head to work. But even if you don’t plan to go anywhere, I feel like taking time for yourself this way counts as a treat and a break.
- I hardly ever straighten my hair, but when I do, I take my time. I apply products and enjoy it.
- When you take a shower, use the special scrub or the special hair treatment cream. Don’t wait for special occasions. Everyday is a special occasion.
- Sit down to eat.
- Whenever you go to the store or the supermarket, if you have time, idle in the aisles that interest you. Looking at pretty things neatly stored can be relaxing. Even if you don’t plan to buy flowers that day, even if you don’t need another faux plant or another cozy blanket. It’s just aesthetically pleasing and definitely counts as a break in your day.
- A spa appointment is not always in the books, so mini spa nights can give you a treat everyday. Take five minutes to apply your skin care products. Do it intentionally. Massage your temples and softly tap your fingertips under your eyes.
- Add a sense of gratitude to the tasks you dread the most. Congratulate yourself for everything that you are doing. This is not a pause or a brake, but it makes everything better.
As a parent, there is always something that needs your attention. There will always be bills to pay, dishes to clean, noses to wipe, and errands to be done. It’s in the midst of this erratic coming and going that we have to pause and catch our breath. Yes! You can have your monthly lunch with your girls or a date with your spouse each week, but the in-between, has to be enjoyable.
Parenthood doesn’t have to be an endless loop of work, work, work. That loop can eventually become a downward spiral into collapse and frustration if we don’t intentionally press pause.
You, my friend, are actually holding the remote control to your life. You can choose to fast forward, pause, or put it in slow motion. Carving thirty minutes a day for yourself can feel like a task in itself but breaking it into five or ten-minute blocks is very doable.
I find that by doing some of the things I mentioned before, my days feel lighter. Instead of trying to fast forward my day to bedtime, when I want to just clock out and doze off into the streaming universe, I can truly enjoy the routine, the daily tasks and the ordinary.
I have to remind myself that no one is actually coming at the end of my day to check how much work I did. I am setting my own goals and expectations. I also have to remind myself that there is no point in complaining to myself about how much I need to do or about how tired I am. Instead I just look forward to my mini breaks that I know I’m going to have and I feel happier to tackle each thing as I go.
Our busy lives are both a challenge and a blessing. Our days will not repeat themselves. We can choose to make them sweeter and all it takes is a spoonful of breaks, every now and then. Enjoy!