Staying mellow when you can't get breaks? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 23 Old 05-25-2012, 08:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I was going to post this in "parenting", but I realized this is such a big HSing issue I wanted to post it here.

 

The question was posed with the assumption that some of us can't get breaks--time to ourselves or with dp away from the kids.  Military deployments, dp out of town, family far away, living in rural areas with no good babysitting options, no good babysitting options, period.  (HSing--no school to ship them off to!)

 

So many reasons why we might have to bravely forge ahead and be with our kids 24/7 (or nearly!).  

 

So, what do you do for *mental* breaks?  Early bedtimes and quiet times after 7:00 are pretty easy to figure out.  Morning videos, getting up before the kids.  But what about the height of the day?  

 

 

Here's my example:  

 

During the day I will grab my knitting, mending or just my coffee and the crossword and plop myself in the same room my girls are playing in.  They love it.  They show me what they are doing, what their game is.  I don't mind being interrupted, in fact I plop myself there to be interrupted, in a way.  For some reason, this is really relaxing for me (as long as I am not recruited to fetch them things, that is).  I am ignoring the rest of the chores and just sitting and connecting with my kids.  Believe it or not, this is a mental break for me!

 

 

What are other techniques/habits you have to stay mellow?  (I am already assuming none of us is mellow all the time!)  My mellowing technique is simply this:  I choose not to live for those breaks I might never, or only occasionally get.  I do work one day a week, occasionally 2 and it's dh's turn with the girls.


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#2 of 23 Old 05-25-2012, 08:32 AM
 
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It gets so much easier once kids aren't little anymore.  My kids are 6 and 9, and I find that nowadays if I want a break I can usually just go and take it and the kids will entertain themselves.  When they were a bit younger, I would often take them somewhere they could play and bring along something for me to read (and maybe a chair for me to sit in.)  We'd go to a park, or down to the shallow part of the river by our house, or over to my sister's pond, or to a place where there were big rocks for them to climb on.  I still do this, but it's not the only way for me to get a break anymore.  On a hot afternoon it's lovely to sit in the shade with my feet in the water, reading something interesting while the kids splash in the river.

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#3 of 23 Old 05-25-2012, 08:55 AM - Thread Starter
 
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It gets so much easier once kids aren't little anymore.  

Agreed!  My girls are 5 and 7 and so different than it was not even 2 years ago.  I can garden again!  And occasionally I look up from my work and wonder where the heck they are off too......


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#4 of 23 Old 05-28-2012, 12:19 PM
 
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I definitely need this.....i have a 3 yo and 6 yo....and while i work outside the home 3.5 days a week, that is NOT me time lol

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#5 of 23 Old 05-28-2012, 07:33 PM
 
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I need this too...I have a 5 y/o, a 3 y/o, and a 10 month old who won't sleep unless he's touching me. Breaks are extremely few and far between around here.

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#6 of 23 Old 05-28-2012, 11:02 PM
 
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Breaks are kind of few and far between here too, since DS2 (23 months) is very high needs.  Sometimes, just feeding the kids lunch and then sending the 4 of them to play upstairs for 30-45 minutes while I eat lunch by myself with a book or my laptop is a nice break for me.


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#7 of 23 Old 05-29-2012, 07:22 AM
 
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I do agree that getting little daily breaks gets soooooo much easier as they get older. When toddlerhood is over you can tell him/her/them that mommy needs a few minutes and they actually understand what that means and will give it to you, well most of the time ...lol. 

I tend to use any down time I get during the day for cleaning and cooking so that I have my own time to do anything I want after bedtime. Sometimes I'm exhausted by then and end up watching tv instead of reading what I wanted or exercising but at least it's my own uninterrupted time for myself.

Sometimes I will get out for a short time by myself while dh does kid duty but we very very rarely get out together. That's harder for me than the daily stuff.

We haven't had a vacation in forever. I can't even remember the last movie I saw in a theatre it was so long ago. Even with finding some creative ways to bring in some cash there is no way to responsibly make doing those kinds of things a financial priority. Obviously it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make or I wouldn't be doing it but I'll admit it bums me out sometimes. 


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#8 of 23 Old 05-29-2012, 09:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I miss movie nights as well, ilovemygirl.

 

If lunch happens instead of random snacking (we are pretty lax at my house) I will sit down with them and keep them company.  It is tempting to keep getting things done, or even to "check out" and read a magazine, but I find just sitting there listening is a pretty nice, short down time.  

 

I find often that trying to "do" me-time stuff like reading a magazine or checking online (more like "cramming" me-time) is not nearly as relaxing as sitting with the girls, or just looking out the window.  Nothing-time, even 5 minutes, is better than 30 minutes of mental busy-ness.  (I mean those brief moments of down time, not long stretches.  Reading is very nice for those.)


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#9 of 23 Old 05-29-2012, 10:42 AM
 
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To mellow together ... we cuddle and play little talking games together like describing something and the other trying to guess what it is and silly things like that. Or card games like Uno. Or color in coloring books together. It usually brings the energy down and then I get to actually sit for a little while too. 

I agree that it's kind of stressful to try and cram reading and other things that I need to concentrate on into the 5 or 10 minutes I get here or there. I'd rather just save it for later. I read some emails and message boards and things like that during the day but to read a book or article or something more substantial it drives me nuts to have to put it down so often. 


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#10 of 23 Old 05-29-2012, 10:08 PM
 
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well in the summer i send them outside and hang inside with the door a wee bit open and just do my thing. or if they go down to the neighbors house but in the winter it's so much harder...

In the winter is i need a break I give in to the mid afternoon movie\TV time. during that break I can knit or face book or read or whatever. I hate that they watch so much more TV in the winter but I need it for my sanity at times.


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#11 of 23 Old 05-30-2012, 08:34 AM - Thread Starter
 
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That's a huge reason why we do videos first thing in the day.  It lets dh and I settle into the day and do what we need to do to get ready.  And, sometimes we plop on the couch in between the girls, or on the chair, drink coffee and watch all together, especially if it's something new and interesting.


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#12 of 23 Old 05-30-2012, 01:29 PM
 
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well in the summer i send them outside and hang inside with the door a wee bit open and just do my thing. or if they go down to the neighbors house but in the winter it's so much harder...

In the winter is i need a break I give in to the mid afternoon movie\TV time. during that break I can knit or face book or read or whatever. I hate that they watch so much more TV in the winter but I need it for my sanity at times.

I do this exact thing.  It was hard to break them of it when the weather got nicer and they could go outside though.  Now I make them save the tv for after supper when I am sooo exhausted that I can't function anymore!  But if I am not feeling great in the morning I am not against popping in a short tape to get us through that part of the day...  My two little boys have been fighting their naps lately- but today it has been awesome!  They are napping, DD and DS1 did school and picked up a little and are now dancing and I am just relaxing on the couch :)


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#13 of 23 Old 06-01-2012, 11:29 AM
 
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I agree about the rushed bits of me time - I'm most guilty of that after DH is home.  During the day, I may pop over to the computer or pick up a book while watching DS play, but it's very non-committal.  I do get some longer time while he naps, since I have to hold him and nurse him through still - it's a good excuse to read and not feel guilty about chores! thumb.gif 

 

When DH gets home, suddenly I have a baby to watch and a husband to listen to and it all gets to be too much!  So I try to check out mentally by burying my head in the computer or a book and frantically readreadreadread - but my ostrich approach never works (I suppose they can still see the rest of me peeking out).  

 

Then I just end up distracted and frazzled and stressed from trying to escape.  But real breaks appear to be on the horizon - now that DS is bigger, I'm starting to be able to leave him with DH for 30 min. to an hour on occasion - as long as he isn't tired or fussy.  He still climbs in the shower with me though, haha! 


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#14 of 23 Old 06-01-2012, 11:33 AM
 
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For mellow time with DS during the day, we also will sit and read a book, go for a walk, make sure the TV is off (it's all too easy to turn on for a second and forget - this can drive us both batty), or build with blocks together.  We also like to pick raspberries in the yard. smile.gif  Even running errands can be a nice "break."


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#15 of 23 Old 06-01-2012, 11:45 AM
 
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I agree that it gets easier as your child gets older. Dd and I both need time to ourselves and just ask for it.

 

I read- sometimes in the same room with dd but sometimes not.

I soak in the tub.

I take the dog for a short walk.

I browse the internet.

When I was really feeling in a rut I bought some craft stuff to do on my own. Nothing too involved- stuff I could finish in a day or two


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#16 of 23 Old 06-02-2012, 09:03 AM
 
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I take them outside, grab a book and a chair, and keep an eye on them while they run :) Heck, even hanging up laundry with nobody hanging on me is a break these days! (Dp works long hours, I work nights and weekends=pretty much no breaks.) I like what the OP said, that instead of living for breaks that might never come (meaning a long, extended, totally alone break), I just kind of work with what I have and enjoy the quiet moments when they come.  I will read for a few extra minutes while nursing ds to sleep during nap or at bedtime, dd and I usually read together on the couch while he naps, which is nice quiet time together, sometimes they will even go off and play together without disagreements for a while (they are 2 and 5). 


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#17 of 23 Old 06-02-2012, 09:22 AM
 
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Good thread. I have 3 that are close in age and I don't get me time either.

 

 

As far as board games I've been wanting to get some cooperative ones for awhile now. Amazon has a lot of them. One of them is called "Counting Chickens" I think.


 

 

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#18 of 23 Old 06-04-2012, 10:50 PM
 
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Well, I have a DH at home and I just want to say - for some reason! I don't get a lot of breaks it seems! I get them, but I have been trying to get a good one once a week.. it doesn't happen. He gets them and as long as he isn't reading this... A lot!!!! He has a way of finding a moment to get alone. The thing is.. I don't feel like we really do get breaks. The children want us both around. He also takes care of things, so if you count chores to be a break, then we both get them. I cook almost always, so I usually get a break to do a lot of those things. I stay up way later than he does doing all kinds of crazy research, so I guess he gets more sleep. The biggest break I get or thing to get myself feeling grand is.. 

 

Juice. It takes a while. DD loves helping, DS sometimes. I get an amazing healthy feeling. Very good and in love. 

 

Workout. So.. I workout like whenever I can. I strip down to my bra sometimes and put on some pant. I do simple exercises in the living room with music playing on the TV (pandora or ipod). I take about 5 songs and brace my self in a strong way, and move really fast. When I am chilling out with the kids I try to stretch when I am not glued to someone's activity. 

 

I really try to sing in the shower..when I get to. 

 

When we go to DC I feel like the whole day is a break. Sometimes when the days get filled out of the house it feels like I am on vacation. All but the packing and leaving bit. When we go to a AP holistic homeschooling group, DH and I take turns and that feels really amazing. My DH loves them as much as I do, so we watch the kids on shifts. 

 

I have been trying to get my life more organized to add more. It isn't working at all. The meal planning is the pits. Crafting is the one area I miss the most. DS birthday is coming up and I really wanted to make him a fire pit out of felt. I hate it when DH leaved with the kids because they never eat out. It kind of means I am all over the kitchen again. Well, I know that when I did meal plan I prepped and the prepping of many of the veggies, beans, rice, is a nice trick to getting time.


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#19 of 23 Old 06-07-2012, 10:39 AM
 
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What are other techniques/habits you have to stay mellow?

 

Lowering my expectations. Of myself, of them, of the people around me. Life is manageable when I acknowledge that I don't have to bake bread, or do laundry, or get a building project finished or read aloud for 4 straight hours if I am not feeling up to those challenges. And my kids don't absolutely have to clean their room right this minute, or agree on a book or movie the first time, or have lunch before 3 in the afternoon if that's not working for them today. I'm pretty sure we'll survive if dh forgets to bring milk home, or the neighborhood cyclists ride right through my lawn, or the trash man skips my house.  These things are all fixable or temporary.  But I forget sometimes, and that's when I start to feel frantic. If I try to reduce or eliminate the pressures that make me crave breaks in the first place, it makes it easier to take care of an occasional need for solitude or rest.

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#20 of 23 Old 06-07-2012, 12:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Last year for our annual trek to the beach, I convinced dh, who is forever wanting to DO something and have GOALS and ACCOMPLISH something, I finally convinced him to let the girls call the shots on whether we wanted to climb in the car to explore a beach further up (WA's coast changes every mile or so).  He agreed, and the girls decided to stay put.  We never climbed back in the car.  DH conceded that the trip, though only two nights long, was the best vacation he had had in years, and the best car camping we had ever done.  The two of us just sat back and watched the girls play, or played with the girls.  

 

Best.  Break.  Ever.


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#21 of 23 Old 06-07-2012, 12:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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What are other techniques/habits you have to stay mellow?

 

Lowering my expectations. Of myself, of them, of the people around me. Life is manageable when I acknowledge that I don't have to bake bread, or do laundry, or get a building project finished or read aloud for 4 straight hours if I am not feeling up to those challenges. And my kids don't absolutely have to clean their room right this minute, or agree on a book or movie the first time, or have lunch before 3 in the afternoon if that's not working for them today. I'm pretty sure we'll survive if dh forgets to bring milk home, or the neighborhood cyclists ride right through my lawn, or the trash man skips my house.  These things are all fixable or temporary.  But I forget sometimes, and that's when I start to feel frantic. If I try to reduce or eliminate the pressures that make me crave breaks in the first place, it makes it easier to take care of an occasional need for solitude or rest.

Oh, definitely!


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#22 of 23 Old 07-19-2012, 01:25 PM
 
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Homeschooling my crew makes for few breaks, but I am sitting here with 4 kids of my own and 2 more and I am blissfully alone in my space.  So, while I don't get 'breaks', I do get a lot of mental quiet time in my own head.  

 

We homeschool in the morning, eat lunch, do one more homeschooling thing and then the afternoon is for play time, reading, art, swimming, and every other thing they like to do.  I am NOT responsible for entertaining them all afternoon.

 

 

I am clear with my kids -- they have toys and books and mountains of Legos and neighborhood friends and a backyard and play-doh and more. I take them to the library, we constantly have new books.   If they can't entertain themselves for a couple of hours, then I have done something wrong.  

 

And while they play, I get my downtime.  I know it is not a vacation really, but it is quiet time to myself.  I putter about, doing my own thing and they whirlwind around gathering scissors and tape and making art and doing whatever it is that they like to do.  

 

And this works almost perfectly.  My son is the outlier in my family and at 8 he still comes to me with 'I'm bored' and 'there's nothing to do'.  He is getting better at self-motivating, but it is taking time with him.  

 

For the most part,  I feel like I can keep myself together.  There are rough patches of course and this 100+ degree heat wave is testing everyone's limits, but I am mostly mellow and calm.  


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#23 of 23 Old 07-20-2012, 03:02 PM
 
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I have a 5yo, 3yo and 1 yo and a husband that seems to be gone almost as much as hes home..

 

I actually schedule "me time" throughout the day.. Morning times I study German while the children play (I sit in their playroom or they bring a basket of toys out to the living room), half way through each day we have quiet time for 30-60 minutes depending on the day (I sew or practice piano, the girls look at books in their room and the youngest naps) and close to night time clean up I have a 30 minute block of relax time (generally I read or play on the computer).


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