When I read that a publisher had accepted my book idea, I was ecstatic—until I saw the deadline. I had thirty days to write almost an entire book. It was a tough feat for anyone, but for me it seemed impossible—for three reasons. Three adorable, blonde, and very distracting reasons; ages 6, 4, and 1.
I needed some Mommy time, and quick.
It took a lot of trial and error (and tears from all four of us) before I realized what worked and what didn’t work, but I learned a lot in the process. Here are three tried-and-true tips for the mom who desperately needs a little time to herself.
Tip #1: Set aside playtime every day.
It may seem counter-intuitive to schedule more playtime when you need to work, but for me, it was very effective. The more I pushed my children away, the more attention they seemed to need. But when I made an effort to be present and available at designated times, they were more willing to give me the block of alone time I needed.
At playtime, I threw myself into their lives and made memories. Later, when they did come to me with demands, I could say without guilt, “Sorry, Hon, but mommy playtime is over. Now I have to get some things done.” I was surprised at how often my kids nodded and said, “Oh, I forgot,” and skipped off to play.
Tip #2: Implement Quiet Time.
I quickly realized that naptime was golden. Since my toddler was the most demanding distraction, every minute of his naptime became precious. Unfortunately, I still had a preschooler to deal with. So we set a new rule. No movies, video games, or iPad games except during naptime, or “Quiet Time.”
This was great for three reasons: 1) My son felt privileged, knowing Quiet Time was his own special time to play games; 2) I got an uninterrupted hour to myself to write, clean, or whatever else needed to be done; and 3) My toddler slept longer when the house was silent, which meant even more time to myself.
Whether naptime is a possibility in your house or not, an hour or so of quiet time after lunch can make children—and Mom—more relaxed and focused.
Tip #3: Call in the forces.
Occasionally every mother just has one of those days. You know, the day when your husband totals the car or your daughter gets into a fight at school, and suddenly all your plans for the day are overthrown in one disastrous phone call. Whether it’s an emergency or you’ve simply run out of steam, don’t feel guilty asking for help.
Every mom should have a friend, neighbor, or family member she can call. “Can you please take the kids for a couple hours? I desperately need a nap,” is definitely preferable to losing control and screaming at every human being in sight. When you’ve reached your limits, admit it and take a break. Chances are good that our friends go through the same thing on occasion, and they’ll understand. A good, old-fashioned neighborly “kid swap” can do amazing things for the frazzled mother.
These three tips helped me keep my sanity during a crazy time, but my new-found Mommy Time was so refreshing that I didn’t give it up once the book was done. I’ve since written a second book and even done a little remodeling, and we’re all happier than ever. The house isn’t much cleaner, but look at it this way: I love motherhood even more than I did before—and I’d say that’s the biggest success of all.
Rebecca Rode, a freelance journalist and author, has three children–or four, if you count her book for frazzled moms, How to Have Peace When You’re Falling to Pieces. Find out more at www.AuthorRebeccaRode.com.