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I declare a break – today.

by Meagan Francis on December 19, 2012

Mom Reboot

If you’re like me, you might be having a hard time getting back to normal after last Friday’s tragic events. I know I’ve been feeling sluggish and sad, which has led to a lot of staring at the wall and blinking back tears rather than, you know, getting things done.

Last year I wrote a post that seems to fit how I’m feeling now, only this year, even more intensely. I thought I’d share it in case it helps you give yourself permission to take it easy – especially under these circumstances – as we ease into the holiday.

I feel like my brain went on break about three weeks ago.

This happens to me every year. As the days grow short and the ground gets frosty, my patience grows short and my memory gets fuzzy. I start to flake, to forget, to phone in my performance.

And it shows.

I’ve missed several birthday invitations, finding them hours before the party (or after it’s ended). I’ve lost two “do at home with your child” school craft projects. The library books? Missing. Packing lunches? Fell off the wagon.  Home-cooked meals? Sloppy and rushed. Yesterday my daughter spent the day in her pajamas. Today I’m tempted to follow suit.

Sometimes the hardest part of waiting for that upcoming vacation is making it through the last few days. But the problem with waiting until you’ve made it to your ‘official’ break is that sometimes you’re so run down by that time that you just sort of collapse into the vacation and need the rest of it to recover. And what fun is that?

This morning, while attempting to muster up the energy to sort through the stack of homework and school notices I’ve let pile up on my desk, I was reminded of my post about the “mom reboot” – the time I decided to just end my day at 4 PM instead of trying to slog through, and found that the mini-break gave me an unexpected burst of energy. From the post:

“When I run up against an exhausting day or overloaded to-do list, I’m often tempted to just put my head down and try to push through. That works sometimes, but often, it’s amazing how much more I actually get done after giving myself a much-needed break….Kind of like how you avoid restarting your computer sometimes because you don’t want to lose time or momentum from whatever you’re working on, but then you end up wasting even more time–plus piling up frustration–dealing with sluggish speeds and crashing programs.”

So you know what? I’ve decided to officially declare a winter Mom Break, starting TODAY.

Oh, sure, I’ll go through the motions of getting my kids to school in the morning, and I’ll bathe ‘em and supervise tooth-brushing and bedtime. If anything urgent happens, I’ll deal with it. But other than that, I’m not expecting too much of me…or them.

I’ll put off the final shopping push until I’ve recovered my energy a bit. I’ll put on my PJ’s earlier and stay in my bathrobe longer. Enjoy a hot cup of cocoa in front of a holiday movie tonight instead of folding laundry. I’ll let the blog slide and put off some non-urgent work until after the holiday. I’ll let the kids watch two movies in a row, get a little extra computer time, and enjoy that cup of cocoa with me.

The funny thing is that I bet as soon as I let myself way off the hook, I’ll experience another little surge of energy and will manage to get through that pile of papers, get dinner on the table, and even find the Book-It calendar before the last day of school, after all.

But if not? That’s okay. Because I’m on break.

Who’s with me?

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenny December 20, 2011 at 1:03 pm

LOVE this concept!! I’ve felt really down and lonely lately and what with moving just a week and a half ago and getting settled into our new apartment and just decorating for Christmas yesterday, I have felt overwhelmed and alone in getting all these things done. I need to give myself a break and not feel guilty for not folding the three baskets of laundry in my room and not having a meal plan for the week, etc. Or for not having anything purchased for my husband for Christmas (I have everything for our daughter, so that’s a relief!)

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Meagan Francis December 20, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Aw Jenny, sorry to hear you’re lonely! Moving right before the holiday is TOUGH. Cut yourself a ton of slack, and as for holiday shopping…I’m pretty sure Amazon can still get it to your house by Christmas if you order today. Click, click, done!

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michelle s. December 20, 2011 at 1:17 pm

The week before our break started the entire family was feeling what you described. You know what we did? We took a “family day.” Yes, the kids still went to school, my husband went to work, and I did the stuff at home that needed to be done. But when they got home…. we skipped Pilates, Spin Class, Ballet, Boy Scouts and all those other things that eat up a weeknight. We went out to Pizza. Then we came home and watched a movie.

It’s ok to skip out on life sometimes… in my experience it leads to some pretty rewarding times. :) Enjoy your break.

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Emily December 20, 2011 at 1:51 pm

I did this the other day and yes, it totally helped. I declared it “pajama day” and the kids and I stayed in our pjs, drank hot chocolate, read stories, and watched movies. And surprisingly, I still got quite a few things done (but didn’t feel bad about the things that didn’t get done!) It was a lovely day. Enjoy your mom break!

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Tragic Sandwich December 20, 2011 at 2:03 pm

We’ve had a rough December. Even when it’s been good, it’s been exhausting. Because both of us work for an organization that closes for a week and a half (tomorrow is our last day for the year!), we have some available time ahead.

There are friends who we want to see–but we’re keeping the list short.

There are long-standing tasks (cleaning the home office!) that we want to accomplish. This will happen at the end of this week, when we’re at home but Baguette’s day care is still open.

There are some routine errands to be run (dry cleaning, and wow, do my eyebrows need to be waxed), but we’re keeping that list short, too.

But one of the things we plan to do as often as possible is what we call “Saturday Night Sofa Bed”–no matter what night it is. We pull out the sofa bed in the living room and all of us (me, Mr. Sandwich, Baguette, Wicket) climb up for an evening of TV, books, and food. If someone makes a mess, no big deal, because we just drape the bed with fleece throws that go in the wash the next morning. I can’t wait.

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heather bell December 20, 2011 at 4:49 pm

Amen, sister! we have been watching more movies. Playing more games. Eating out more. It’s ok!!

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Tricia December 20, 2011 at 6:12 pm

I’m with you! This is a fabulous idea.

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Heather December 20, 2011 at 10:48 pm

My kids ate Christmas cookies for dinner last night and just so I could say that wasn’t all they ate I passed out gogurts. Loved your post especially after that comment the woman wrote on your pj post about routine (which ticked me off so much!)

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Amanda Anderson December 21, 2011 at 8:20 am

It sounds like you need a full-spectrum light! I am really susceptible to my brain turning to complete mush in the winter, but 30 minutes with my light in the morning has kept my energy and motivation up. Best $50 I have ever spent! They’ve got tons on Amazon.

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nichole December 21, 2011 at 10:52 am

Go for it! I get so much more done after I take a break. Most things really can wait.

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MrsJennyK December 21, 2011 at 3:36 pm

I am happy to say that I don’t need any encouragement to do this! I made it a point to take things easy and not freak out this year. We have 8 month old twins and decided not to get them any presents. They have everything they need and won’t remember anyway. Plus, grandparents, aunts & uncles, etc are getting them stuff. We also agreed not to buy presents for each other (except some really little stocking stuffers), and have pared down our gift-giving in general. This will be our first family Christmas together and it will be just us. No masses of relatives descending upon us. I chose not to bake cookies and so forth. It is really so freeing and I am enjoying this whole season so much more.

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eila December 21, 2011 at 4:24 pm

I am with you 100%. All will be quiet in the blogosphere for me this next week. I am excited to read go for long walks, spend time with my kids, and try to make a plan for a little more balance in the new year! Enjoy this break with your family. Look forward to your updates in the New Year.
Warmly,
Eila

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Sarah Powers December 19, 2012 at 3:25 pm

I really had a hard time getting going this week. The numbness I felt over the weekend about the tragedy turned to sadness on Monday as I started to allow myself to read and listen to the news. I agree with you – it was really hard to put one foot in front of the other. Since my JOB is pumping out daily content for two different blogs I felt even more resistance to look at the calendar, almost as if that “real life” that had been programmed in wasn’t going to look quite the same when I finally got up the courage to look at it.

Thanks for sharing this post – I think so many of us were in this head space this week.

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Suzy December 19, 2012 at 3:27 pm

I’m with ya!!!

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Megan December 20, 2012 at 10:06 am

I’m right there with you. I think there’s a lot to be said for going with the seasons – when the days get shorter, I try to let myself have shorter days, too. Doesn’t always work, but it’s nice to have the option.

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Nina December 20, 2012 at 1:14 pm

I feel you. For me, I feel like I need to be doing something in the evenings when my little guy is asleep, including leisure activities! It’s like I have to jam even fun, “relaxing” things, and it ends up not being fun or relaxing at all.

I try not to let myself feel too bad if I have absolutely nothing to do, even if a few hours later I say, “Oh man I wish I had done that when I had nothing else to do!” I’m pregnant with twins too, so that’s my biggest excuse not to overwork myself and slack off.

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Jenn @ I Am Not Superwoman December 24, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Love, love this idea! I think I have been unoffically doing this the past couple weeks. I, too, failed to finish the at home projects and spaced getting anything from the store for the holiday party at my sons school. My bad. They had plenty anyways. Only today, did I finish wrapping Christmas presents. Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas!

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