The title of this post might send off some alarm bells in your head. Simply typing this admition sends off small alarm bells in my head. Will people think I’m abusive? Neglectful? A horrible mother? What kind of a mother doesn’t want to eat lunch with her children? What kind of mother ADMITS it? Well, this one.
Give me a little leeway here to explain myself, and then at the end of the post you can bust out the knives and pitch forks if you are so inclined.
I stopped eating lunch with my children.
Then I started eating lunch by myself.
I ate an entire meal without sharing half of it with little ninja hands swiping it off my plate faster than I could shovel it in my mouth. I remembered and even enjoyed what I ate. I enjoyed Mama-me time.
Then I realized I had to make solo lunch a thing.
Here’s the truth, my Littles are my whole world. Staying at home with them is my career of choice. I’m fully aware and grateful that I have the luxury of making that choice because I know that not everyone is afforded that option. But being with them all day, every day is exhausting. It is compounded for me by that fact that I am an introvert. I need time to decompress to function. I’m learning Motherhood is a marathon not a sprint. If I don’t take time to care for my needs, my children won’t have a functioning mother.
Self-care should never be used as an excuse for neglecting your children. However, Mom burn out is real. So what do I do while the Littles are busy eating their lunches?
I do three things:
- I prep my own lunch and get it ready to be eaten as soon as they are done eating. I’m finding that I’m eating healthier things, like salad many more times a week than if I would eat what my kids eat for lunch.
- I tidy up the kitchen by cleaning the counters, putting away utensils and dishes, and loading the dishwasher while my Littles eat.
- I talk and interact with my kids and give my kids reminders of how much time they have left to eat. Teacher Jessica is showing up in this one big time. But I know that a day is quickly approaching where they will only have a small amount of time to eat at school, and I want them to be able to adjust to that.
Once lunch is over, my kids go directly into what we call quiet time in the Harris house. My children both stopped napping when they turned 2 (happy birthday Mom!) Quiet time became my solution. I’ll post more about that another time.
For me here’s the magic:
By getting my tasks done while my kids are eating, I allow myself the time needed to truly relax, eat in peace, and be refreshed and ready to engage with my kids again after quiet time is over. I’m noticing that for me and my kids quality interactions trump quantity. If I spend every blessed minute of the day with my children yet don’t truly engage or connect with them, all the minutes in the world won’t matter. What matters most is building a lasting relationship with my children and creating intentional, meaningful interactions. For me, those interactions happen when Mama is not running on empty.
How do you handle Mom burn out? How do you recharge in the middle of the day?