Permission to Take A Break

Several years ago, “a quiet room and a Diet Sprite” became code for “I need a break.” I don’t even like Diet Sprite, but one of Tina Fey’s lines in the 2010 movie Date Night hit so close to home that it’s been a running joke (and sometimes an SOS call) between my husband and me ever since!

“Just, there are times when I’ve just thought about… you know, leaving our house and just going someplace. Like checking into a quiet hotel and just being in a quiet room by myself. Just sitting in a quiet air-conditioned room, sitting down, eating my lunch with no one touching me, drinking a Diet Sprite, by myself.”—Date Night

I’m sure those of you with little ones can relate. The demands on you can be overwhelming at times—physically, mentally, and emotionally. And sometimes you just need a little space, away from home… and some good air-conditioning set on what’s comfortable for you. (South Texas Moms who have endured too many 100+ degree days this summer would take full advantage of a cold, quiet room right about now!) And you want a good meal of your choice to eat whenever you’d like, and you want to savor it from beginning to end without any interruptions or responsibilities. And a Diet Sprite, or your beverage of choice, to enjoy at your leisure in the bliss of a quiet room that gives you the space to just be.

The idea of self-care for moms is obviously not new, and in fact has been given a lot of attention recently, especially as we all endured a pandemic. But I want to speak to the mom who feels guilty for needing a break or hasn’t practiced the skill of creating space for herself before the overwhelm hits. I want to tell her:

  • You have permission to take a break. It doesn’t mean you’re weak or incapable. It means you’re human.
  • You don’t have to wait until you’re at your wits’ end before you schedule a break.
  • Yes, it takes effort and planning and a little money, but you’re worth it.
  • By taking a break, you’re setting a beautiful example for your kids. They need to see you take care of yourself because it will teach them to do the same. And that’s what we all want, right? To raise little humans into big humans that are self-aware and prioritize their own well-being.
  • You’ll be a better spouse, partner, friend, etc. Ironically, these may be the same people you rely on to take care of the kids while you spend a little time away, but they’ll be honored you asked them to help. And ideally, you’ll come back recharged and able to give more to the relationship.
  • It’s good to get in the habit of small, routine types of self-care that refuel you on an ongoing basis (naps, a favorite coffee/tea, a face mask, connecting with a friend). But getting away from the house is necessary from time to time. You can’t be distracted by the piles of laundry or leaky faucet or barking dog that needs to be fed. It doesn’t have to be a long stay or cost more than you can comfortably afford. It’s more about the space you’re creating for yourself, and it’s a worthy investment.

Almost every time I’ve taken a night away from the responsibilities of home and family, I come back feeling more like myself—more confident, happy, and energized. It’s like watering a wilted plant. When we pour a little into ourselves, we’re refreshed and can be the best version of ourselves to everyone around us.

So, consider this your permission to make plans for a little time away. I think Tina would be cheering you on!