At one point the other day I thought a modern punishment of Hades–akin to those of Greek mythology with fruit and water eternally out of reach, or stones rolled to the bottom of the hill after being pushed endlessly to the top–would be this: laundry baskets being filled, clothes washed, dried, folded, and put away. Only for the baskets to fill right back up again.
I actually don’t have an ongoing hatred of laundry. In fact, a few months ago I wrote about how I’ve got a great system for keeping it in check, and it totally works! The laundry wasn’t what was overwhelming me. It was just the overall weight of being needed to fill so many continual roles.
Not just caring for myself, but for my kids too.
All day, every day.
I need a break.
My husband is a wonderful helpmeet. We work well together and he is always quick to offer to relieve the pressure when it feels heavy. But even with both of us working together, being a parent is hard work. It’s daily hard work, and I need regular breaks in order to keep my energy and sanity.
I need help, not only from my husband, but from my family and my friends. I need time to rest and time to create and time to daydream. I realized as I was thinking about this topic that this past year is the first year of my life that I haven’t maintained a regular job.
Even through having each of my kids I worked either part-time or prn as a nurse, in addition to relatively regular sewing orders and maintaining this online space. It has been almost one year since I quit my latest nursing gig, and even though in theory my quitting created more time for myself, in reality, doing a little work outside the home always gave me a much needed break from being a full-time mom! Who knew?!
Creating A Schedule For Motherhood And Life
The last few months have been focusing deliberately on creating a schedule that allows me to accomplish my tasks of mothering, housekeeping, self-care, and also create specific time for creativity and making.
I realized today how much I also just need regular old time-off.
It’s really hard to justify the expense of a nanny or babysitter when I am not working, but I need to have time off from being a full-time mom. Just as thousands of self-help websites, books, and gurus suggest time off, hobbies, and regular enforced breaks in order to maintain a healthy work-life balance, stay-at-home-moms need the same to maintain a healthy life-life balance.
Being a parent is the most full-time job that there is (as evidenced here by my kitchen after my one-year-old passed through!)
Four Ideas For Creating Time-off As A Stay-at-home Mom
1. Do a play-date trade.
Think of one family with kids who your kids like to play with, then ask to do a once-a-week trade. It seems like whether you have a couple kids or a whole bunch at home at once, doesn’t make a huge difference. So enjoy being a fun mom with a play-date one day, and then relish the few hours off that you get when your kids are away.
2. Create a Play School for your kids with other moms in your area.
Basically, round up four of five moms with similar-aged kids, and do a once or twice a week couple hour swap. All the kiddos at one house for a couple hours one week, a different house the next, and so on, round and around. This works especially well with young kids. I started both of my boys around 12 months. The structure can be whatever you decide, but it always worked best for me to have a very loose schedule to guide a snack and craft. Like a letter and a color for each week.
3. Hire a sitter or nanny.
If you can afford to hire a regular sitter, this is a great solution for time off! A lot of families hire babysitters for date nights, but why not hire one just so you can take an alone break? Ask friends for who they use, and find one you trust to be your regular. During the school year, you may need to look for a college student needing a little extra cash to do daytime sitting.
4. Send them to daycare or preschool.
Some people have mixed feelings about putting kids in daycare. In my experience, a great daycare can be a wonderful solution for having some time off while the kids are being well cared for and having fun! I much prefer having my kids get out with other kids and play or craft at daycare than have them sit at home on watching endless TV when I feel like I just need a break (although sometimes that happens, too).
Last summer when I was pregnant with Plum and had the other two crazy boys running me ragged, I discovered a local drop-in daycare that charges by the hour and is open every day. It turned out to be a wonderful place for me to leave the boys for a few hours a week so I could take a little time off. I always picked them up feeling refreshed and ready to enjoy them, and they were always excited to see me and also a little sad to leave!Now that you’ve got some much-needed time off, what are you going to do with it? I’d like to sit and read a magazine, maybe go on a hike, or browse some local antique shops. And then return home to love on my babies with fresh eyes, hands, and heart.