Editor's note: This article was originally published on Katelyn Fagan's blog, What's Up Fagans. It has been republished here with permission.
It is so common place to meet stressed out moms, whether a stay-at-home mom, working mom or single mom. Moms are stressed today! And many moms need a break, some mommy me time, mommy quiet time, mommy alone time.
I'd bet you've heard a mom say things like "I need a break!" or "I need a night to recharge," or "I just need a night out"? Perhaps it came from your own mouth! The general sentiment behind such things is that moms get stressed out carrying the load of their family and homes on their shoulders and need to escape from that load with something, well, less stressful than screaming, fighting, moody, destructive little people, who may or may not be able to communicate properly. Moms do need a break from time to time, partially because we just crave silence, a moment to ourselves, as well as desire a sense of identity outside of "mom." It's why moms love bathroom breaks, nap time, bed time, showers and girls night outs, especially for those stressed out stay-at-home moms. I am no exception!
And many people agree that when mom gets a break from her daily stresses and recharges, she is better able to care for her family. She is happier. She is emotionally more balanced. Because if you are running on empty, how are you supposed to care for anyone else?
Moms need a break
I do believe moms need a break, but what type of break? And what is motivating its need?
Most mom escapes appear in the form of blogging, social media, girls nights out, book clubs, exercise classes, books, manicures, pedicures, salon visits, massages, TV, movies or shopping sprees. Regardless of what your "escape" of choice is, it is an escape, and some day, some hour, you have to come back to your real life.
And even though many of these escapes - exercising, dieting, developing talents, socializing, getting more sleep, or showering and dressing each day - can help you feel better emotionally or physically, they don't necessarily equate to better mothering. Sure, you can be more patient after a weekend away, ready to tackle another day after a full night's sleep and more attractive after attending to your personal hygiene and appearance, but ultimately life will happen again. The unexpected occurs, again. Another end-of-the-world tantrum erupts from your child, again. Then what will you do? Will you again feel the pulls of needing to get away? Will you again be overwhelmed by your life?
Because here's the truth - All the time away in the world won't make a lick of a difference in your real, everyday life because you at your core aren't different.
Because, these "moms nights out" are a temporary fix for one's happiness. It doesn't matter how many nights you get a break, they won't inherently make you a better mother.
Reevaluate your Mommy Me Time
Moms. I get it. We really do need a break and a recharge. Moms do need to take care of themselves too. But, may I suggest something?
I recommend that you reevaluate your mommy me time - the time you are spending away. What is its purpose? How is it helping you be a better person? A better mother? A better wife? Or are they just making you look like a better person, wife or mom?
Are your mom escapes making it harder to enjoy your real life? Are they pulling you further away from your home, your family?
Honestly, I'm guilty of being a selfish mother sometimes. I want that moms retreat, that escape, for completely selfish reasons. And I realize that it is not OK.
Is your Mommy Me Time restful?
Ironically, as I evaluate my alone time during my days as a stay-at-home mom, I see that I am filling it with noise, with distractions, with lots of multitasking. My alone time is usually not indeed restful!
Because, often when nap time happens, I jump on my computer to work on the blog, but get distracted by about 15 different somethings - articles friends shared on Facebook, emails, blog comments, stats, Pinterest, Twitter and my newsfeed. My mommy alone time gets filled up with bleeps, sounds, alarms and other things clamoring for my attention. My break from being a "stressed out stay-at-home mom" still contains stress as I multitask, answer emails, jump from one pin to the next, one friend's update to yet another, complete errands, look up information and pay bills. Social media and the Internet can make me feel anything but social and happy. Often it gives me about 15 other people and problems to stress and worry about.
My brain didn't get time to shut down, to recharge, to get that break I thought I was having! I got distracted during my precious, quiet, me time, that I felt even more overwhelmed by the end of my "me time" when my three children are again begging for my attention, again overwhelming and stressing me out. And so then I'm not patient with my children when they start clamoring for me to do five different things at the same time. I'm not as focused or recharged as I thought I should be given the fact that I just had a three hour break from answering "What?" to the dozen "Mom!"'s I heard that morning. And in the midst of it all I do feel disconnected from myself, my person, my identity past "mother."
It's no wonder why I feel like I still need yet another session of "mommy me time:" it didn't recharge me or truly give me that break I needed.
And I should know better than to go down this path, because I know the importance of silence in a multimedia, multitasking world.
But, sometimes the best thing about having a blog is going back and reading your own advice, learning from your own past mistakes, reminding yourself that for at least a brief moment you had things figured out.
Moms need a break to recharge their hearts, spirits and minds
I recently started reading the book Women Living Well: Find Your Joy in God, Your Man, Your Kids, and Your Home and am absolutely loving it and feel like it is exactly the kick in the pants that I needed to get my priorities back in order. It became clear to me that the type of "Mommy me time" I need is quiet, devotion, something that feeds the soul. Something that does stand to make me a better mother, not just distract me, give me an escape, from my life as a stay-at-home mom.
It was humbling to read about the author's amazing passion for scriptures, for prayer, for private devotion, because I have such need for improvement in those areas of my life. I've been slacking, being disengaged in true discipleship and hunger for God and His word.
It made me reflect on the time in my life when my quiet time as a mom was occupied by reading books, by doing Genealogy research, by service, by caring more for other people,including my children. And I miss that high-quality, quiet, reflective time, when I had better balance to things.
So, forgive me. I'm not perfect and I often repeat my own sins over and over. I forget to truly embrace the changes I've made in the past to make them habits for eternity. Discipline is one of the hardest things to master as human beings. And I am lacking a lot of discipline in my life right now to not let myself be in front of my computer to "blog." I've been giving 100 percent of my devotion to my new business blog endeavor at the expense of my family, myself, and my God. My husband feels disrespected, my children feel neglected. And I feel confused. I'm confused as to what I'm supposed to be doing.
This work-at-home mom deal (I guess I should maybe consider myself that since I spend 30+ hours doing this every week despite the very part-time paycheck) is difficult. It's hard. Because my computer, my work, my passion calls and beckons to me every day. And I love it. But, shouldn't my God, husband and children's beckoning be more important? Shouldn't I be more passionate about them, then a temporal, temporary, aspect of my life? Shouldn't I love working with them, for them, and about them? Shouldn't I be more concerned about the quality of the time I spend with them than my other endeavors?
Yes. Absolutely, yes.
I believe that moms need a break. I believe, though, that us stressed-out, stay-at-home moms (as well as single and working mothers) need to reevaluate our mommy me time, need to reevaluate the purpose and intent of these escapes, and to start devoting serious time on our knees praying for a changed heart, attitude and perspective, that we may no longer see our children, husbands, family, and homes as burdens, as enormous stressors, which we must get away from. Perhaps if in the times we aren't busy mothering or caring for our homes, we truly disengaged from stress, from mind-numbing TV programs, from endless updates online, from trying to fit in more in less time, and stopped and slowed down to pray and devote time to God and to personal development, we would be better mothers, better wives, better Christians, better women, better individuals.
When you dedicate your life to the service of your children, your spouse, your home, and most importantly your God, you as a person will change into the extraordinary individual you always wanted to be.