The longest I’ve been away from my toddler was a day and 2 nights. The whole time I was away from her, my emotions were shifting from gratitude to mom guilt. I was so thankful to have had the chance to take a break from my parenting duties, but at the same time I kept thinking how I should be the one at home taking care of her. I guess I also had that fear that she would resent me once I saw her again.
But when I reunited with her after that breather, it’s as if nothing changed. She was still as excited to see me as I was seeing her. The best part was that I came back recharged and refreshed in doing my nanay duties.
Parenting is hard work. It’s no surprise that taking a break every once in a while is essential to be able to be great at this job. I’m sure other moms could also relate with me about the feeling of mom guilt. But then again, rest is equally as important. Society is only recently understanding that rest is also productive because it allows us to fill our cups and give more from there.
So I asked other moms how they are able to practice self-care and why they think moms, or parents in general, need a breather.
For Karen, a mom to a teenager and a preschooler, taking a breather allows her to keep sane and reset after juggling the mental and physical load of day-to-day deliverables, household chores, and mommy duties. Despite working from home, she doesn’t have a helper, so breaks are important in order to give her all to her kids and husband.
But of course, part of the success of being able to take a break is through other caregivers. “I usually ask my older sister ahead of time so she can come and watch over my 5-year old. On other rare occasions, for example we need to run an errand, we ask his kuya to watch over him for a few hours,” Karen shares.
She and her husband made it a goal to at least have date night once a month. They also go on trips with their kids, but also have travel plans where it’s just the two of them.
For some, taking a break could mean somewhere from going on quick errands, a date night, or even a week-long vacation. As long as it’s a deliberately chosen time to be present for yourself, it works!
In the case of Jacque, mom to 22-month old Elyon, a breather can be as simple as having a peaceful morning while she sips her coffee, prays and connects with God, reads, writes in her journal, and plans the day. If her son gets up early in the morning, then she squeezes these activities during his naps. She also considers time spent with her immediate family as a way to take a breather, because there are extra hands that could take care of her son.
“I think all of us need a breather, whether a mom or not. I choose an activity that I think adds up to my life so I can be the wife and mommy that I prayed to be,” Jacque shares.
Chelsea, a mom to a toddler and an infant, also enjoys the quick daily activities that she can do for herself. “In a day, the very least is for me to have a long shower without my toddler trying to get in the bathroom and to have at least an hour and a half of physical activity, usually working out or practicing yoga,” she shares.
She also tries to schedule these breaks around her children’s schedules, while her toddler is in play school, or during lunch time when both kids are napping.
“It’s really to keep us going. I don’t know how moms will last if we keep on doing mommy duties every single point of the day. It will get harder to care for our children and our family, for us to nurture our relationship with our partner, if we are always tired or on auto pilot,” Chelsea says on why taking a breather is important for her.
It’s no surprise that being a mom is exhausting, physically and sometimes emotionally. For Nina, a mom to 3 boys, she sees taking a breather as a time to be kind to herself. She uses this time to reconnect with her husband, go to a salon for a pampering session, or have focus time for work. She also shares that taking a break is a good way for her to be reminded that she can’t do it all by herself.
“It’s important to be reminded by your family and friends that you are not a super mom. It is a good reminder as well that you have a whole bunch of people who support you and love you in this wonderful journey of motherhood,” she says.
Indeed, it may take a lot of effort on parents, especially moms, to take a break. Just know that with this time you make for yourself, you’re also creating a better version of you for the whole family.