Kindness and letting go of routine
I’m approaching my fifth year as a full-time stay at home parent. With three under five, it’s that hands-on, in view at all times sort of parenting. I’m good at taking a few minutes here and there, to recharge. “I’m washing my hair” may as well be code for don’t expect to see me in the next hour. I read in fifteen-minute slots. A night my husband is on bedtime is an opportunity to relax and start the evening off with something just for me; usually chocolate.
A whole day though? I have been pregnant or breastfeeding for most of those five years. I do not have days away from my children, not yet. I do have relaxed days. As a stay-at-home parent there are three ways to take a break;
- Take short-cuts
- Get ready ahead of time
- Leave it until another day
I believe that if you take a day off, it should be a break and not simply a pause. You know when you take Friday off, but work in the office until ten at night on Thursday and Monday? That’s not a break; that’s just deferring the work.
For this to feel like a true break, you need to not be doing double the work tomorrow. That’s where the kindness comes in. Prioritise your favourite things for one whole day, choose short-cuts and take a break.
Create your kind of fun
Put on the children’s movie you enjoy. We’ve all got one. I’d watch Mulan, Frozen 2 and Moana any day of the week.
We all have our favourite activities when it comes to spending time with our children too. Set up the ones that you love. Colouring, playing with a giant cardboard box, board games and baking are all on my list. My husband would spend the day in the garden, do jigsaws and go on an extensive pretend adventure.
Avoid all the activities that create stress or that you really dislike; it’s okay to say no for today.
Invite the children to play your way. We do pedicures all around when Mama wants fresh nails in this house. It takes more time, but my girls love it and we all walk away feeling put together after a little quality time.
Pause the chores
Step away from the vacuum cleaner. Unless it’s a hideous food mess. If it’s a hideous under-the-table food mess, try giving your children the dustpan and brush. They’ll probably love a chance to clean it up. Speaking of cleaning up, use paper plates, so you don’t really have to.
Don’t do any laundry. This is a holiday, remember.
Leave the school or homework alone. It will wait.
Consciously avoid any chores that are personal stress points. Children really don’t need a bath every night. In our house, this is absolutely a chore. They’ll be fine for one day.
Make mealtime work for you
Pick your favourite breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you have picky eaters and mealtime is laborious, pick their favourite breakfast lunch and dinner. Yes, all three. Just for one day.
Take an hour of absolutely just for you time. No work, no children; make it before they wake up or after they go to bed depending on your personal energy levels and preferences. You can find the time and you should prioritise it, just for one day. Whilst you’re at it, consider these small ways to build a little me-time into your every day;
- Have a biscuit with your coffee, even when the children are watching
- Double your shower time
- Light your favourite candle in the middle of the day
- Wear your favourite perfume when you aren’t going anywhere
- If your children sleep in, let them stay up late the night before and take advantage of a lie in to really kick start your day
Spend one entire day taking short-cuts and leaving tasks until another day. Choose all the kind things you can do for yourself and do them all in 24 hours. A little flexibility and a lot of recharge moments combined will give you a break. A break from routine and a break from your normal every day.