As a mother, a wife and a woman, your days are mainly devoted to someone or something else. I know I often harbor resentment I do not even know I have, until the whining and the constant demands drive me to my breaking point and leave me playing the evil monster. So, how do you keep from getting to that point? You breathe. I do not mean taking deep breaths, although that certainly helps. No, I mean stepping away and finding room to breathe — something we often forget to do. It can be as simple as a glass of wine at the end of a long day, a bubble bath or thirty minutes on the porch after the kids are in bed. And sometimes, it needs to be more.
I recently went on a road trip with one of my dearest friends. The last time we had done so was five years prior. Since then, we had collectively faced job loss and changes, divorce, remarriage, childbirth, miscarriages and multiple moves. Indeed, as we spent hours talking, we realized we had let our lives interfere far too often with our relationship. It was amazing to realize how much we had never thoroughly discussed because emails, phone calls, messaging apps, texting and getting together for events had been our communication. We had to leave our lives behind to catch up on them.
The same thing goes for you. You cannot be your best self when you are overwhelmed and over everything. You need to drop it all on occasion, and take a step back. I promise that the world will survive without you for a couple of nights, and you will come back as a better person. Your perspective will change when your daily distractions are gone. You can sleep in or watch an entire movie in one sitting. You can have a conversation with another adult without interruption from, well, anyone else. Though you will need to do planning and preparation beforehand, it will fully be worth the trouble.
I will throw in this caveat — on some of my first getaways, I devoted hours of time to putting together tasty meals for my family. Can you guess what happened every single time? Yep, I came home to find those lovingly prepared containers sitting exactly where I had left them in the fridge. My husband, wonderful man that he is for allowing me time to myself, had fed my child a diet of hot dogs and cheese and crackers while I was gone. Or he had spent most of the time with friends and family who provided meals. The moral of this story? Make sure to stock the fridge with hot dogs, and your family will be fine.
Lesson learned. Don’t allow your getaway to be a stressor. Let it be something you need and deserve, then make sure to set boundaries with those in your life. Let them know that you will be out of town and not available by email or phone for a couple of days. Trust me, you do not want to waste your vacation dealing with other people’s problems. If it is going to stress you out while you are away, then take care of it before you leave. Log out of your email and all of your social media, and even turn off your cell phone for a while here and there. If you have to, disable apps that you may not be able to resist checking.
This is not about keeping up with others or showing them what fun you are having by the beach or at your mountain cabin. This is about taking time to reconnect with yourself and maybe a few friends. Make it absolutely clear to everyone that you will not be answering unless, God forbid, someone is in the emergency room. Then, make sure you stick with it.
Reminisce, as we did, about your friendships if you are in a group. Go sit on the beach with a book you want to read for enjoyment, and leave your electronics in your room. Take a cup of coffee or tea out on the porch without a device that will buzz, ding, or in any way pull your focus. Step away from the world, from your family, from your routine. Then breathe.
Is that air not different?