Why you need a break from the kids and how to get one

For what seems like the 10th time today, I’m frustrated at one of my kids. I am ashamed to admit that I have yelled way too much this morning.

Why you need a break from your kids and how to get it

After a week of sickness (me and various children), a night of interrupted sleep, and cold weather that has kept us inside, I am ready to snap.

It’s not a nice place to be and I know I need to do something about it fast.

I need a break from my kids.

No, I’m not going to take off for the weekend. I don’t have the luxury of an on-call babysitter. But I do know how to get back on track to being a loving, patient mom instead of the frazzled person I was this morning.

Why might you need a break?

Even the most dedicated and patient mother needs a break every now and then. Your reasons may be different from mine.

Do any of these sound familiar?

  • New baby
  • Health issues in the family (yours or someone else’s)
  • Super busy day
  • Homeschooling
  • Not enough sleep
  • Financial worries
Some of these things are happy (new baby!) and others are not, but what they all have in common is that they all cause stress. Any of these things or countless others will wear down even the most heroic of mothers over time. As mothers, we are so used to putting others’ needs first, that we can ignore our own needs, sometimes to the point of exhaustion.
Simply put, we need to take care of ourselves. Taking a break and getting some downtime is an important part of that process. You can only forge ahead on full speed for a limited time before you crash and burn. Stop and take a break before you get to that point!

How I get a break in the midst of our busy day.

My kids are accustomed to having a quiet time in the middle of the day for 1-2 hours. The toddler naps, the older 2 spend time in their rooms finishing schoolwork, and the 6 year old listens to audiobooks, looks at picture books or plays with a quiet toy.
Everyone stays in their own space until quiet time is up. This time is so vital for me and for all of us to recharge, rest and prepare for the activities of the afternoon. This peace and quiet is paramount for me if we’ve had the kind of morning like today. After a while, I am relaxed and ready to be patient and productive again.

Sometimes I can’t wait for afternoon quiet time to get in a break.

Sometimes a sick child has kept me up at night so that I am over-tired the next morning. Sometimes bad news pushes me to seek some quiet for a moment. Or maybe I am overwhelmed by the demands of our family and our current struggles. I admit it happens all too frequently.

When this happens, I take a short break.

Any of these things can re-ground me and redeem my day:

  • A phone call to a friend (not too long or the kids start getting into trouble)
  • Put on upbeat music.
  • Sit the little ones down to read a picture book. Let the to-do list wait.
  • Spend a quick 10 minutes outside with the kids. Fresh air and sunshine work wonders for my mood!
  • Clean something up. Our home is no stranger to messes but when it gets out of control, I get stressed out. Clearing off a countertop or washing the dishes really helps my mood.
  • If all else fails, I take a couple deep breaths while counting to 10.

The bonus is that most of these things help my kids’ attitudes too. We are all happier afterward.

When possible, I try to schedule in breaks in advance.

Just one hour once a week with a friend, with or without kids, can change my entire week. Some other possibilities for scheduled breaks:

I feel so much better now after our afternoon quiet time.  I know my kids will, too. My kids need me to be a great mom. A break helps me to do just that.

Still overwhelmed?


Have you taken a break today? What do you do when you need a break?

Photo by Elliot Brown.

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20 thoughts on “Why you need a break from the kids and how to get one”

  1. My 11 month old typically takes two naps a day and I spend that time in meditation. It’s something I just started about a month go and it really helps calm me down and relax me. I let the windows up to get some fresh air, sit in a quiet space, close my eyes, and just breathe. Total stress reliever!

  2. I love this post! I have three kids and sometimes I just walk out on my deck for a minute! I feel such guilt and so condemned when I snap! I totally believe kids feed off of our distress! Lol that’s the enemy working through them! I just discovered your blog through Christian mommy blogger and I love it! Thanks for all of the Christian mommy encouragement! You have blessed me!

    • Thank you for your kind words, Dana. Kids sure can bring out our own sinfulness, can’t they? Thank goodness for grace. And thank you for your encouragement!

  3. Sarah I agree. Sadly I see a lot of judgment especially from religious mom bloggers who claim that it’s selfish to spend time alone, or that it should ONLY be spent doing Bible reading or other spiritual activities. There isn’t a scriptural justification for that that I’ve ever found. And certain personality types NEED solitude in order to function properly and be at their best.

    • Thank you, Carrie. I used to feel this way too – that it was selfish for me to want to be away from my kids. But I really need a little down time regularly (my kids do, too!).

      • Really Carrie? It’s so hard to believe Christians can be douchebags? I mean… there’s you with a chip on your shoulder.

        Atheists have better things to do than write fake Christian blogs. Get over yourself.

  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
    I am a newer Mom of 2 (they are 13 months apart) and wondered if what I was feeling is normal. Then, I read this and discovered I am not alone in my feelings. I love your suggestions, thank you!

  5. I am a stay at home mom with 6 kids, 1 on the way, a new puppy and my husband works alot of doubles. This is good advice but i can’t even pee alone and trying to stay on a schedule so i can have 5 minutes or even shower seems nearly impossible

    • You *are* a busy mom! I hope you can at least have an afternoon quiet time where everyone leaves you alone – it’s my number 1 sanity saver!

  6. Thx u so much for this post. I am a stay at home mom with a 3&4 year old and I constantly feel tired. Than my son seems to cry over everything. What helps me tremendously is music and twitter and during break I dim the lights low so the kids can calm down and nap. Im glad to know im not alone in wanting to need a break every once in a while

    • Oh, you’re welcome, Kieashia! Kids take a LOT of work, especially little ones. Your strategy sounds like a good one. Take care of yourself and it will be easier to take care of them. Sending you hugs 🙂

  7. Thanks for the ideas!

    I normally crave for Vacation breaks as I am working. Still sometimes, I wish my kid to sleep early so that I can steal some “me” time.


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Welcome. I’m Sarah!


I’m the creator of Decluttering School (formerly known as Early Bird Mom), lover of organized spaces, encourager to women and mom to four boys. Click here to read more!

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