Last weekend I gave my son a big hug and kiss goodbye as he stood on the front steps of our house, then I turned off the “eyes in the back of my head” for a grand 36 hours. Calling time away from your kids a “break” may sound cruel, but it’s not. I’d even argue it’s necessary. Not having to be in mom-mode and at-the-ready for even a little while can be relaxing, restorative, and just the recharge you need to be a great parent when you’re back with your kids.
Adult time doesn’t have to be a huge ordeal. A weekend away with girlfriends is nice, but most of the time even just an hour without kids running around can flip your mood around and boost your long-term stores of energy that are oh-so-necessary to keep your home operating smoothly.
I overheard a conversation at the coffee shop the other day about a mom leaving her 3-year-old overnight for the first time. The guilt radiated off of her. You could tell by even just her posture that she was wracked with a guilty conscience and thought she was being a “bad mom” by taking an opportunity for herself. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt the same way before telling my son I’d be back later or I’d see him soon.
The thing is, adult time is nearly essential to be a happy, stress-free mom. You’ve likely heard that investing time in “date night” is important for a marriage; so is taking time away from kiddie-land and focusing just on yourself. Whether it’s an hour, a day, or a weekend, it can be the thing that keeps you from losing your mind in a world of “Mommy, I need this” or “Mommy, do that.”
I used to make parenting my number one priority and let it to take over my own needs. It took me well over a year to truly understand and accept that carving out time to spend with just my husband or a group of girlfriends was also investing into my bank of mommy skills. I wasn’t being less of a mom by not physically being with my child at every opportunity. It wasn’t until I went away for an overnight girls’ trip with a group of other moms that I realized I wasn’t neglecting my son by leaving him with people that cared about him. I didn’t judge the other moms for leaving their kids overnight, so why had I previously judged myself? I came back from that trip energized and desperately wanting to spend time with my son. Let me tell you: anything that makes you want to spend more time with your kids is a good thing. After the trip, I noticed I was more patient with my son’s needs and demands, I was happier, and I felt more love toward my husband, having seen him take a turn at the parenting gig. It was then that I realized that investing in adult time is well worth the time away from my son, even if I do miss him while I’m away. I could say the same thing about taking date nights with my husband for no other reason than that it’s nice to have an uninterrupted conversation and catch up on each other’s lives outside of our parenting identities.
Taking time for myself or spending time with my husband or girlfriends recharges me to be a more engaged parent. It’s amazing how much more present you can be with your kids when you’ve had a chance to step back for a minute. If you haven’t been doing so all along, it’s time to give yourself some adult time too, no strings (or guilt!) attached.
How will you celebrate your adult time?More On