You need a break. You can feel it in your bones. You can see it in the bags under your eyes. It comes screaming at you when you realize you overreacted when your little one spilled milk as they tried to help themselves to a fresh glass.
But, there’s just so much to do. Your plate at work is brimming over with assignments. Your social calendar is also bursting with weddings, BBQs and birthday parties. It’s warm weather, and yet, your kid has gotten her second bout of strep throat in as many months.
As much as you’d like to just run away – even for a few days – there’s just no time for a break.
It’s this thinking that is getting employees in the US to forfeit about half of their paid vacation days. What’s worse, when we do take vacation, most of us work.
When we don’t take a break from work and life, our health, relationships, productivity and every other aspect of our life suffer. And, the impact is felt by our children.
So, today I’m sharing four ways you can give yourself a break – even on the busiest of schedules.
Instagram has destroyed our definition of a vacation. If I were to just go by the pictures that pop up in my feed, a vacation can only be had when sitting on a beach with an umbrella drink in hand.
Here’s the thing: vacations can be whatever you make them out to be. The only prerequisite is that you take a break from your normal activities. You can travel to faraway lands, you can stay home or visit any place in between. It can also be done in a day, over a weekend or for a longer period.
So, if you’re waiting to plan the perfect vacation, stop. Instead, plan a vacation that will work for your budget (finances as well as time) and your family now. Then, when you return, you can get back to planning your perfect holiday.
Take a mental health day
Too many of us don’t take a sick day when we are physically sick. Understandably, we can work through minor ailments like a cold. Yet, we also push ourselves to keep going when our bodies are fighting more serious ailments. Part of the reason, at least for parents, is that our sick days need to be reserved for the times when our little ones are under the weather or need to visit a doctor.
So, it’s especially hard to justify when we need time to care for our mental well-being. Far too many of us still don’t equate our mental health to our physical health. I’m guilty of it myself. I will stop working when I’m suffering with a migraine, but when anxiety or stress is weighing heavily on my shoulders I ignore it. Most times to my detriment further down the line.
We all need to get better at recognizing when we need a mental health day, and when we do, take them seriously and take the time we need like this Madalyn who’s out of office message and her boss’ reply has gone viral.
Go tech free
Sometimes a break from the virtual world can be far more effective than a beach vacation. Our addiction to our smart phones affect our sleep, moods, stress levels, productivity as well as our mental health. Because of them, we aren’t present in our real life.
The real problem is we are passing our addition on to our children, and they, too, are suffering. A new study shows that babies as young as 6 months old are losing sleep from using touchscreen devices – every hour of device use results in 15.6 minutes less sleep.
My phone addiction has gotten out of hand, or so my family says. So, I’ve been taking steps to curb my dependency. I’ve been tucking my phone out of sight in the evenings and on weekends. I did it last night and my girls and I spent more than an hour working on a puzzle together, talking the whole time. It made for a lovely evening and an easy morning for everyone.
Try something new
Life as a working mom swings between two extremes – chaos and mundanity. There are times where no two days, let alone two hours, are alike. Then, there are weeks where we go through our routines at work and at home relatively unscathed. In the first case, I’m trying to find a way to control my situation and in the second, I’m looking for a way to make things more interesting.
In both cases, I find trying something new gives me a break from whatever else is going on in my life. It forces me to slow down and pay attention. It also curbs my boredom (which can be a real stress for me), and allows me to stretch and grow. When it’s done, I feel refreshed and there have been many times I go back to my regular schedule more productive and creative than before. It can be as simple as trying a new recipe for dinner, taking on a new project at work or challenging yourself to a fitness goal.
We all need a break – our bodies and minds weren’t built to sustain prolonged periods of stress and fatigue. But, the life of a busy working mom doesn’t always allow us to get away. If that’s you, give one of these breaks a try. Then, let us know in the comments if it helped.