Becoming a mom is the best thing I’ve ever done. It’s wonderful, it’s fulfilling, it’s crazy, it’s fun, it’s made me feel love in a way I never thought possible…and man, sometimes I really need a break.
It’s not even that parenting is overwhelming, even though that’s certainly the case some days. And you know the days I’m talking about—the days when the kids aren’t cooperating, laundry items are multiplying like Gremlins and you’re being pulled in 80 different directions at once. Yes, those days are overwhelming.
But what I’m talking about here are the other weirdly stressful days—the days when you just need a break because you’re human. There may not even be anything pressing going on, but you’ve stopped—and now you want to stop. Fully and completely. Because you’ve had to be “on” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for so long that you literally can’t remember the last time you had a real break.
And on those days, even though you love your kids to pieces, you don’t want to parent. You want to curl up under the covers. You want to ditch any semblance of responsibility. You may or may not want to lock the door and watch a Sharknado marathon.
Mental-health days are important and necessary, but unfortunately, sometimes they’re just not feasible right when you desperately need them. Because, you know, kids and responsibility and and all that jazz.
So, what can you do when you really don’t want to parent…but really need to? Start with these six steps….
For starters, stop parenting. Or, more accurately, stop parenting the way you think a good parent should parent. Forget the enriching activities, forget the home-cooked meal, forget your limits on screen time. Your brain needs to rest, so let it rest! Turn your brain off, turn on the TV, snuggle up on the couch with the kids and have a movie day. They will love it, and their brains won’t melt in the process. I promise. (P.S.—Pizza and cookies also help.)
Tell your kids that you’re having a rough day and that you need their help. It’s important for our kids to know that we’re not robots. We are human, we have bad days, we have cranky days—and that’s OK as long as we’re not taking it out on them. But by being honest with them, we can give ourselves a little room to breathe—and (hello, teachable moment) let them know that it’s OK for them to have feelings of their own, too. Plus, kids want to help. We don’t give them enough credit sometimes, but they really do. Let them.
Turn that frown upside down, and fake it till you make it. Two cliches in one sentence? Yes, because some days you’re just not feeling up to your creative, boisterous mommy self, no matter what you do, and you just have to survive until bedtime. While it’s good to be human, as I mention above, you don’t want to wallow. When you’re having particular difficulty moving on, try putting a smile on your face, focusing on really being present with the kids and remembering why the things they do are adorable and funny. Before you know it, you just might be smiling for real.
Do something super fun with the kids. You’re in a rut, and you need out. The fastest way to do that is to change up your routine. Check out Mommy Poppins or Red Tricycle, or scroll through the posts on your local Facebook moms’ group. (And click here for some fun staycation ideas.) Trust me, there’s something cool, fun and inexpensive going on nearby.
Call in the reinforcements. Set up a play date for the kids. If they’re old enough, send them to someone else’s house for it. (Dare to dream!) If they’re little, make sure that you’re getting together with a good mom friend and her child so the play date can double as a therapy session for you.
Change your perspective. Whatever is going on in the moment feels awful, and I’m not going to minimize that. No one should. But if you can look at the situation differently and try to see the good in front of you—and I promise that it’s there somewhere—you could get yourself back to where you want to be. Just a tiny shift in perspective can make an enormous difference.