Giving Yourself Permission to Shut Down for the Day

stressed momAs moms, I think we often try to push ourselves as hard as we can. That’s why we stay up too late, say “yes” to too many things, and feel guilty if we take time to ourselves.

There just aren’t enough hours in the day and we are trying to be everything for everyone. It’s exhausting. We can’t do it all.

Sometimes we need to give ourselves a break. I hit a mid-afternoon slump every day. I realize that probably means I need to go to bed earlier and eat more super foods but still, right now I’m tired. Rather than trying to push through that exhaustion, sometimes I just look at what I’ve accomplished and say, “you know, that’s enough.”

And I call it a day.

Don’t get me wrong. My to-do list is still ten miles long. My kitchen sink is still filled with this morning’s breakfast dishes. But when you need a break, you need a break.

Let’s look at the alternative:

I could easily tell myself that I can’t relax until the entire house is cleaned, all our homeschool assignments are done, my work projects are finished for the next week, etc. etc. etc.

We know how that goes though. In the off-chance that all of those things did get done, I’d just find something else that needed doing.

Believe it or not I lived like that my first few years as a mom. I couldn’t rest. I couldn’t relax because there was always something more to do. Then a very wise mom-friend pointed out that most jobs we have as moms are unfinishable-tasks. The dishes are constantly being used. Even if you could do all the laundry at once (AND put it away), the kids are still wearing clothes and those clothes are getting dirtier by the second.

Throw in the added responsibilities of being a working mom (and a homeschooling mom in my case) and you have an entirely new list of tasks that, if we are being honest with ourselves, really just are never going to be “finished”.

So when I hit that afternoon slump and I can see that I made some progress towards my goals for the day . . . I give myself a break.

How do you know when it’s time to shut down?

Look at what you’ve accomplished during the day rather than what still needs to be done. You might be surprised at how much you’ve finished.

Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Can the things I have left to do wait until tomorrow?
  • Have I gotten the things done that I really wanted to finish today?
  • Am I going to be more productive if I give myself some time to relax?
  • Do my kids need to spend some down time with me just having fun?

If the answer to any of those questions are “yes”, it’s probably time to shut down for the day.

What does it mean to shut down?

Shutting down doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to feed your kids boxed mac and cheese and park yourself down in front of the TV for the rest of the day (although, believe me, I’ve had days like that too). It just means you are allowing your brain to shut off and your to-do list is no longer in charge.

I feel so relaxed when I finally give myself permission to just do what I want, and oddly enough, sometimes I end up being more productive when I just follow the things I want to do.

We can do a lot, but we can’t do everything. Earlier this week we had a field trip day at my house. We hit several local museums and then, just because it was close by and we have annual passes, we stopped by the zoo for a few hours before going home.

trip to the zoo

We were exhausted.

We still had a huge long list of school related tasks that we hadn’t done that day and I had several work projects that needed to be finished over the next few days. There were dishes in my sink and I hadn’t started the laundry but we were just done.

So I gave myself permission to shut down for the day and relax. I ended up making cookies with my 5 year old (and cleaning up the kitchen a bit as we worked), we all sat down to read a story (that corresponded with what we were studying in history), and I made an easy dinner that was on the table by 6:00 (which is super early around my house).

I shut down. I felt relaxed. But I got stuffed done. If I’m being honest with myself I probably got way more done then I would have had I tried to push through and force myself to sit down and “work” and I didn’t become a crazy person in the process.

How do you know when you need to shut down for the day?



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