A few years ago, I remember reading an article about Mother’s Day. The writer observed how, instead of a spa day or sleeping in, what she really wanted was a day centered on the motherhood experience. Not the laundry. Not the dishes. Not the perpetually sticky floors. She just wanted to have fun with her kids, no chores attached.
This stuck with me, Mama. For all of us who work outside the home, we are used to negotiating our time out of the office. We lock down a certain number of days off before we take a job. We put in requests for PTO around holidays and vacations. But when it comes to motherhood, we’ve somehow drunk the Kool-Aid that we’re supposed to always be on duty.
What if we chose a different path? What if we assumed the role of a benevolent manager to our mom-selves and said, “With this job, you are responsible for a lot of repetitive but important tasks, you get a pension plan of unlimited love and joy, and you’re guaranteed regular days off from the drudgery?” I think, Mama, we’d be happier parents and people.
Overcoming Your Inner-Overachiever
It can be hard, of course, to check out for the day. I get it. We are programmed to think about how we can multitask better, how we can optimize every minute, how we can be successful at home and at work in half the time. That’s grit. That’s drive. And in so many situations, that’s commendable.
The only problem is, burnout is a very real consequence of that mentality. We owe it to ourselves to step back every now and then to do fun things just for the sake of, you know, fun.
And if you think our COVID-era lifestyles preclude everything you’d want to do, think again. This isn’t a call for some grand gesture so much as it is an urging toward intentionally enjoying ourselves now and then for no other purpose than to bring happiness back into our parenting.
Still not convinced? Here are a few doable ideas to get you started:
1. Snuggle In: Even if you can’t sleep in, you can stay in your pj’s all day and watch movies and color together.
2. Bake: Forget pandemic baking. You’re baking for no reason! Cake, bread, whatever your jam is, you’re putting that sucker in the oven. Just. For. Fun.
3. Get Outside: No park playdates here! Nope, you’re going on a walk just to feel the sunshine together. (Or, if you’re in Portland, to admire the clouds.) If you can’t completely squelch that overachiever mentality, you’re allowed to pack a picnic. But don’t forget dessert!
4. Bust Out the Boardgames: Even toddlers can hold their own in a game of memory or Candyland. And that analog-style fun will bring back your own happy childhood memories.
So how often should you be doing this? Well, that’s up to you. There are those out there making the case that laziness has certain hidden advantages. (Looking at you, creativity!) I personally find that once a month strikes the balance between doable and rejuvenating. If you can do it once a week, more power to you. If you can’t do it at all, I urge you to reconsider. And, if all else fails, put it on your calendar. You can always schedule the laundry for the next day.