The Best Thing I Do For Self-Care? Spend Less Time With My Kids

There are two things I love more than anything in this world: spending time with my children and spending time away from my children. I have three children, and, in all honesty, I'm hoping for one more because I love being a mom. I love that I'm fortunate enough to stay home and raise them. But every so often, I need a break. I need to remind myself to be a little selfish and take some time without my kids.

From the moment my oldest was born, I knew that I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. What did that mean exactly? Well, at the time, it was all sunshine and rainbows. The thought of spending every day taking my daughter on play dates or to museums, aquariums, or the zoo seemed idyllic. As she's grown older, lunch dates and trips to the movies have been fun and made us both feel special. But as it turns out, there's a not-so-pretty side to this stay-at-home mom life.

Spending every waking minute with a gaggle of toddlers is hard. While some days are truly blissful — meaning that everyone listened, got along, and actually ate the meals that I put in front of them — others leave me feeling like I'm failing so hard at this whole parenting thing. It's those days — the ones where someone is either screaming, whining, fighting, throwing food, terrorizing the dog, or calling my name incessantly — that have me teetering on the edge of my sanity. Those days always start with me waking up, ready to be my best mom-self, and by dinner time I'm in survival mode. They end with me lying in bed feeling like the worst mom ever as I try to count how many times I snapped or raised my voice. Unchecked, those days will become more and more frequent. And it seems that the only way to stop them is to spend less time with my kids.

Spending less time with my children doesn't mean I love them any less. I spend less time with them because I love them. Taking time out for self-care allows me to be a better mom. Whether it's a few days away, a night out with my girlfriends, or just a few hours out shopping alone while they play with the babysitter, I always come back recharged and refreshed. My patience is restored and I can soothe them when they sob over a broken graham cracker or because their favorite cup is in the dishwasher (and no, I'm not going to take it out to wash it by hand), rather than lose my sh*t right along with them. Is it selfish of me? Maybe. But is it necessary? Absolutely. And in spite of some of the looks I've received from other moms who "can't imagine needing time away from their babies," I have zero regrets.