One particularly rough year early on in my parenting journey, I had one request of my husband for Mother’s Day. I said, and I quote, “You know what I want for Mother’s Day? I want to be LEFT ALONE.”
This was not my finest moment, but at the time, I was the stay-at-home parent to my (then) four-year-old son and three-year-old foster son. I hadn’t had a moment alone in weeks. Someone was constantly touching me, pulling on me, following me and saying the word “mummy” so much it had lost all meaning.
I needed a break. And you do, too.
That’s why you should take a day off from parenting. And with Mother’s Day coming up, you have your perfect excuse. You don’t want flowers or jewellery with your kids’ initials engraved onto it this year. (You do still want the homemade cards, though—those are non-negotiable.) No, what you want is a break. A real break, a Full Day Off.
So how do you do that?
First of all, everyone gets a day
If you get a break, your partner gets one, too. Not at the same time, obviously, but you can take Mother’s Day and they can take Father’s Day. Or, if you’ve already committed to hosting the extended family barbecue on those days, pick a random Saturday. It doesn’t matter; we’re simply using these holidays as an excuse to gift ourselves a little self care.
For those of you who are single-parenting, this obviously gets trickier, which is truly unfair because you really need a day off. Ask your parents, your siblings or your best friend for a day. Or swap days with another single parent so they get a break, too. Call in whatever favours you have to call in to get yourself a day.
Put it on the calendar
Like, right now. Nothing is real until it’s on the family calendar; until then, it’s a mere wish. Treat this like any other commitment on that calendar. No matter how inconvenient it may seem as it approaches, you may not cross this out. Write it in big, bold Sharpie.
Pretend you’re going out of town
Plan ahead for your day off as though it were an actual holiday in which you were leaving town (of course, if you can actually leave town, you earn bonus points for this exercise). Run any errands you have before you leave. Stock up on groceries, gas up your car, hit the post office and get a load or two ahead on your laundry.
The last thing you will want upon re-entry after your day is to return home and realise that every single sock in the house is dirty and there’s nothing to pack for tomorrow’s lunches.
Seriously, repeat after me: “My day off is NOT a day to run errands! Errands are not a break!”
Actually leave your home
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’ll just relax in bed for a few extra hours. Even if your family does leave you alone, you’ll still be able to hear the kids arguing over which show to watch, the dog barking for absolutely no reason and your partner yelling over all of it.
Having your spouse take the kids out of the house while you relax doesn’t work either; wherever he plans to take them will inevitably be closed or someone will have a meltdown or get injured. They’ll be back 20 minutes later and you’ll be angrier than ever.
So go. To a spa or a park or the darkest, quietest corner of the library. Wherever you go, be gone for the whole day, from early-morning wake-up time to bedtime. To be safe, text before you enter the house to confirm that the kids are definitely asleep.
If you really want to do this right, be like Reddit user u/ornages and dream big:
I want to go to a random hotel room. One that has super fluffy blankets and cosy pillows and a to-die-for-comfortable mattress. I want to watch mindless television in said bed, for hours. Whatever show I want.
I want to eat a 2L tub of Oreo Cookie ice cream in bed for dinner, and a bottle of wine for dessert.
I want to go to bed when I damn well please and wake up when I damn well please, and spend my next day as I damn well please.
Feel free to copy that plan, which is perfect in every way.
Make it an on-going thing
If you have pulled this off, I see no reason why this should not be a regular thing that you weave into the cadence of your life. Upon your return home, get out that Sharpie and block off your next break.