Monday, November 21, 2011

Moms & Dads Need a Break: Safe Ways to Take a Moment for Yourself

One Sassy Doctor’s four children know that mommy says pretty much the same thing every day after work: “I can’t wait to hear about your day and snuggle and have fun. But Mommy needs a minute to change my clothes, and stare at the wall. I’ll be down in 10 minutes and I’m all yours!”.

Yes, I lie on my bed for at the end of the work day, sans TV/music/books, and simply stare into space. My kids are welcome to come snuggle during this hiatus from real life—but it’s quiet time. It’s my little way of taking a break. I was very fortunate to have help at home with both sets of my twins, and was able to take a break when I needed to. Not everyone can do that—and that’s why I decided to write this posting. It’s OK to put your baby down (or your toddler, or your teenager!) and take a safe moment for yourself. As parents, we often feel guilty that we feel like we need a moment to ourselves. Wash that guilt right out of your hair, here, today, ok?

If I was ever a television producer, I’d have a show called “Blank Screen for Mommies”—no noise, no pictures! I promise—it would win an Emmy award!

When babies are young, and parenting is new, this can be particularly important: at the time when parenting can be the most challenging (sleep deprivation, baby crying, new parents), parents may be the least able to take a moment “off”.

One Sassy Doctor prescribes… The ABCs of Taking a Safe Break When You Need It:
  1. Always know your baby is safe and secure when you take your break. Do not leave your baby alone in the house even for a moment! Baby on the back in a crib while you are within earshot is a good choice.
  2. Breaks include—listen to some music, jog in place, talk to a friend, eat a sandwich, go on the computer, go to the bathroom (seriously… sometimes even that is hard to do when you are with a baby!).  
  3. Crying is okay. Your baby may cry if she is placed down in the crib and not asleep. It’s okay. If you feel you need a moment to yourself—perhaps 10-15 minutes—know that your health and happiness is paramount in your ability to care for your little one.
Finally… think about your support system before you need it. Who would you call if you had an emergency? Who do you trust and feel you could talk to? We’ll address this more in future One Sassy Doctor blogs, but for now, make a short handwritten list of your closest resources and hang onto it.