Recharge Your Battery, Mom!
Love can mean pouring yourself (time, energy, and talents) into someone else. We moms pour ourselves out by calming tantrums, packing school lunches, and comforting sick children. Ever feel like you’re pouring yourself out so much that there’s nothing left? If we don’t take the time to recharge, we end up like an overused aquifer: empty and ready to collapse.
Good news! It is possible to recharge, even in the midst of the demands of motherhood. It’s also necessary for you to continue to be a great mom.
The simplest way to recharge is to rest. Who am I kidding, you may ask-“mom” and “sleep deprivation” are practically next to each other in the dictionary. Sleep is great. And those rare mornings I sleep in are a blessing. But there are also smaller ways to rest that you can use even when your children are waking you up at night.
Here’s one I’ve started making the time for-sitting still and doing nothing.
Let that sink in. When did you, a busy mom, last do that?
Some of my favorite memories from our summer vacation are the times I just sat on a porch and looked at the trees and listened to the rustle of aspen leaves, so I’ve started doing that at home, too.
I’m a mom too, so I don’t do it for long. Just try it for sixty seconds, and tell yourself it’s okay not to do anything. (And arguably, rest is doing something.) Try doing nothing for as long as it takes for your tea to brew or your coffee to percolate. Even a mini habit can make a big difference!
Rest is not a four letter word! Or at least not the bad kind.
Remember to ask!
An especially glorious kind of rest is having someone else care for your kids. It’s a kind that can be hard to find, especially if, like me, you don’t have family in town. Remember to ask for help!
Ask a friend if she’d like to take turns watching each other’s kids, even just long enough for you to get coffee or a haircut. Maybe she’s been longing for the same thing!
Ask your husband to watch the kids for a few hours. After my second child arrived, I was worn out. And I needed a break, but I knew my husband was tired from work. So I felt like it would be unreasonable ask him to watch the kids on the weekend. If I could go back, I would just tell him I was exhausted, and ask him what the best way would be for him to give me some time on the weekend. We did get there eventually, and Saturday nap times became my writing time.
Returning to the old
What did you love to do before having kids? Done it lately? Can you do it even a little to recharge?
I’ve always loved to read fiction, but there are so many useful nonfiction books about parenting and writing, and so many fiction books I feel like I should read, that sometimes I forget to read just for fun. When I do, when I get lost in a story, I feel such relief afterwards, even if it’s just been fifteen minutes. It’s a mommy mini-vacation. I return to my kids more cheerful and ready for a fresh approach to any frustrations. (Much more productive than spending that time mulling over what my kids have done wrong.) Audiobooks allow me to do extra “reading” while I drive or exercise.
Reading books about writing has made me more excited about writing. Reading about parenting has had the same effect, like in Sarah Mackenzie’s books. There’s something freeing about growing. Afterwards, I feel like I’ve taken off the old, tight shoes I’d been hanging on to and put on new ones that allow me to wiggle my toes. Is there an article about your profession or about parenting that you’ve been wanting to read? A class you’ve wanted to take?
Podcasts are a great resource, for the same reason audiobooks are, you can listen while you drive or do chores. My favorite is the Read Aloud Revival podcast by Sarah Mackenzie. Check out these other podcast ideas in Katie’s post.
Reconnect with old friends or make new ones. They don’t have to have kids, either!
One of the most recharging things I did all last year was join a group of moms that met (without kids!) once a month to read a book, pray for each other, and encourage each other. We talked about parenting, about relating to neighbors, about anything going on in our lives.
You could try an exercise class, have park or Biopark playdates, or just have a friend over and let the kids play together. You can also just call a friend on the phone.
Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, writes about taking a weekly “artist’s date” for “filling the well.” Moms benefit from making the time to recharge, too.
Remember, taking care of yourself is not the same thing as being selfish!