When you have children, they take up most of your time and energy, but despite sleepless nights and endless rounds of laundry, there’s something so wonderful and rewarding about kids that compensates all the hardship. Raising a family is one of the hardest but most important things you can do in life, and the kids will be your priority whether you work or stay home, or whatever other things are going on in your life. Sometimes though, you can become so used to putting them first that you don’t spend enough time looking after yourself, and that’s not a good idea for you or for them.
Why you need a break
Anyone who thinks bringing up kids is easy has probably never had any – or if they have, they must have been raised by nannies and sent to boarding school at age five. It’s hard work, there’s no let up, and you are shouldering the weight of responsibility not just for another human being’s physical needs but their development, mental well-being and education. That’s quite a burden to bear, and everyone copes with it in different ways and with varying levels of stress. Some people seem to take it all in their stride, managing multiple children without being worn to a frazzle, and others find it very hard to adjust to life with kids. There’s no blueprint for raising children; there are too many variables that can influence how things work out, so all you can do is your best and hope that it’s good enough. All this mental and physical effort on your part is bound to take its toll, and it’s important to take a break and find time to do something just for yourself now and then.
How to take a break
Grabbing ten minutes for a coffee and a read through your favorite magazine might be enough to keep you going day to day, but it won’t have the therapeutic effect of a real, sustained period away from your typical role. You should be thinking about a night out, or a weekend away, letting your hair down, enjoying complete peace and quiet, and doing nothing that isn’t for your enjoyment. Obviously, your first task will be to find a babysitter for the kids. You want to reduce the amount of worry you’ll experience about leaving them, so use someone you trust in a place you know the kids will have a good time. Grandparents and the parents of your children’s friends are ideal; the kids will be excited about going to a sleepover, and you will know they are in safe hands. Wherever you are planning to go, make sure the childminders have all the contact details they need and know what to do in an emergency. No matter how well prepared you are, you’re bound to worry about the kids to some degree, but the more confident you are that every eventuality is covered, the easier it will be to relax.
Places to go
It’s become almost a cliché to say go for a spa break, but there’s a good reason it’s become such a favorite way of taking time out. You will be pampered, looked after, have all manner of lovely relaxing treatments that make you feel rejuvenated, and you don’t need to worry about anything as it’s all taken care of for you. A day or two at a spa can boost your health and well-being and is very appealing when you spend most of your life rushing around trying to get a hundred and one things done. If a spa isn’t your cup of tea, you could try a more adventurous form of escapism and sign up for a mystery experience like the Boston Escape Room. If you like the idea of solving mysteries and getting out of impossible situations, this is a great way to spend some free time, and the immersive nature of the experience will undoubtedly divert you from your everyday worries. You could try a new sport or go and do something you’ve always wanted to have a go at, like sculpting or scuba diving. Or you could stick to the comforts of staying in a nice hotel and being waited on, instead of being cook and housekeeper to the members of your family.
Make sure you enjoy yourself
As mentioned above, it’s almost impossible not to worry at least a little bit about how the kids are getting on. One of most common feelings amongst parents who are taking time away from their kids is guilt. It can be because you feel that you should be with them rather than off enjoy yourself, or that they will in some way suffer because you dared to have an evening without them. When it comes to the welfare of the children, that is guilt with no foundation. Far from being a damaging experience for your children, it is a significant part of their development, knowing that they will be fine without their parent, and becoming accustomed to spending time away from you. By never letting them out of your sight, you aren’t giving them the chance to develop independence, and get used to the idea that if mummy goes away for a while, she will come back. You don’t need to feel guilty about enjoying yourself either. You dedicate most of your life to the welfare of your little ones, and you are entitled to take a break now and then. In fact, if you don’t give yourself a rest and a chance to unwind, you could find that you are less able to deal with the stresses of life, and if you start snapping at the kids because you haven’t been looking after yourself, none of you are going to be very happy.
If you’ve ever flown on a commercial flight, you’ll know from the safety talk that in the event of an emergency you should fix your oxygen mask in place before attending to your children. The reason is sound and straightforward; if you don’t make sure you are alright first, your child is going to be in a lot more trouble when you pass out and can’t look after them Apply the same principle to taking a break, and you will all be better for it.