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Truth time: raising three kids is no walk in the park. And that, ladies, is the understatement of the year. We have had grocery store meltdowns, and playground battles. I have tried to explain the logic of pretty much every common sense action there is and I have had my fair share of anxious, blood-boiling moments when I can’t see through my own anger. What do you do when you are feeling overwhelmed by motherhood and stuck in a heated confrontation with a pint-size person? How do you catch your breath, refocus from anger so you can be that calm, collected, rational human your kids need you to be? What about when you reach the end of a tiring week and you need to just get through that last leg?
You take a break, that’s what. And while I advocate for full long breaks that include getting out of the house and doing something just for you, there are still times when all you have is a few minutes. Here are 10 ways to cope, to reset and to thrive with 20 minutes or less of downtime to give you what you need.
A Hot Bath
This tops my list because the sensation of the hot water calms me, as does the opportunity to step behind a closed door, even if what I am escaping is standing on the other side asking me for a snack. It is ok to step away from your kids for a few moments and have a hot bath that restores you. Try lavender, or your favourite essential oil.
Hit the Open Road
I know what you are thinking – this sounds like work. But try a fun destination, pack a snack and put the kids happily in the back. Brew a travel-mug of coffee and get ready to slip into a zone. Many kids will be content for a short ride, and because you have to focus on the road (and frankly because they are all strapped in) you get a few moments of peace.
Start a Ritual
Find actions in your life that have a calming effect on you – perhaps it is a skin care routine, brushing your hair or making a pot of tea. Turn these into a ritual and accent the experience as much as you can – buy sweet smelling bath products, splurge on a beautiful mug. Try to find the small, beautiful moments in your day and stretch them into an experience.
Hide and Go Seek – Cause You Get to Hide
Kids love the game Hide and Go Seek. You will love the opportunity to find a quiet corner of the house and decompress. My favourite hiding spot: under the covers.
Schedule Down Time
It’s ok to plug the kids in for 10-15 minutes while you find a quiet corner to be without them. In our house we call this downtime. It follows a long bout of (preferably outdoor) play and it involves putting on Netflix and letting the kids tune out for a bit. I know TV isn’t the answer to everything, but when you are hanging on by a thin thread, I believe it is a nice little way to survive.
Take a Hike
When you are feeling overwhelmed with parenting, and looking ahead to a whole day with the kids, try to break up the day by getting a dose of nature. Giving the kids the opportunity to get out and run is really helpful – for you, as you let yourself relax in the fresh air, and for them as they are given space from you.
Find an Open Field
Similar to hiking, giving kids an open field to run in means you are giving them a bit of independence, but where you can actually always see them. You may not be able to shut your eyes and enjoy the breeze (depending on the age of your kids and your comfort level) but those moments of distance will help you.
Have a Rescue Partner
Mom friends are an invaluable resource during your parenting journey. It can be hard to make friends, as we get older, but doing so can mean saving you from crazy moments. You might need to call on a friend to talk you through an anxious and angry moment. Or you might set up a situation whereby this friend can drop by with her kids, or take yours so you can take a breather. Most moms would love the idea of swapping kids here and there so you can each benefit from much-needed kid-free time.
Kids are usually psyched to bake and you can give them small tasks to complete on your own while you take over the larger tasks. For us, baking gives us something else to focus on and of course the end result is the comfort food you need sometimes (let’s be honest). If mess stresses you out, this may not be the best match for you, but if you can get into a bit of a zone following the routine of a recipe you might find this very helpful. Why bread? Because you can really work out frustrations while you knead it? Take a look at our bread dough recipe by Renee.
I do this all the time – and even when I was struggling with Postpartum Depression, if I hit a very rough moment I put my baby safely in his crib and I lied down for a few moments. This is just enough for me to slow my breathing, and my racing heart and to refocus with calm and clarity. A quick lie down (just a few moments) paired with deep breathing is very beneficial to the stressed out parent.
Stop, Drop and Stretch
And even better if you can involve the kids! Throw on a yoga video for all of you to follow. Getting your body moving releases feel-good hormones. And even better if you can get silly with it – laughter will release tension and turn everyone into a better mood.