In a couple of short weeks, Hamlet will enter kindergarten. As excited as I am for him (and me!), I’m also apprehensive–not for his sake or any fear that he won’t excel, but because I know this new chapter in his life will bring changes in mine. That may sound selfish, but the fact is, listening to the other preschool moms talk this past year about their own experiences with school activities, after-school activities, their volunteer activities in the school, and (occasionally) their own work… I often wondered how I would make it all fit.
I’m not a people person and I’m comfortable with that, so I don’t see myself becoming hugely involved with the PTO or doing a lot of volunteer work in the school. At the same time, I thought, would Hamlet see other mothers volunteering more often than I do, and thus think maybe I care less? If I have trouble balancing my work life and mothering now, how will I do with school in the mix?
Enter Mothers Need Time-Outs, Too, authored by Susan Callahan, Anne Nolen, and Katrin Schumann. Indeed, in their opening chapter, they write: “But as our kids grew in inches and independence, everything started to shift…. Our lives sometimes seemed to lack achievable and satisfying personal goals.” These three are mothers who understand the balancing act, and their book is chock full of useful and resonant advice that cover a wide variety of mother care. Consider their chapter titles:
Introduction: From Never Being a Good-Enough Mother to Finding Happiness in Doing the Best You Can
1. The Attitude Shift: From Trying to Be Perfect to Taking Time-Outs for Yourself
2. The Power of Self-Awareness: From Losing Yourself in Motherhood to Understanding Who You Are Today
3. The Importance of the Here and Now: From Perpetual Preoccupation to Appreciating the Moment
4. The Value of Downtime: From Living in Perpetual Motion to Hearing Your Own Voice in the Silence
5. The Loving Link with Your Partner: From Living Side by Side to Integrating Your Life Together
6. The Need to Reach Out: From Motherhood in Isolation to Creating and Providing a Support Network
7. The Significance of Self-Care: From Never Putting Yourself First to Taking Care of Your Whole Self
8. The Power of Less: From Living a Frenzied Life to Gaining Greater Control
9. It’s Supposed to Be Fun: From Being a Good Girl to Breaking a Few Rules
But this book isn’t just about the advice. It’s interactive, with exercises to stimulate your thinking about how to get your mojo back (and what it is to begin with). Tips from the Trenches at the end of every chapter, especially, ask you to take a few risks–step away from the familiar and toward what will make you happy. Finding opportunities in ordinary life (even boredom), learning to share your interests with your children, and carving out space of your own (even if it’s in the car alone for 10 minutes with the music turned up) are just a few of the tips presented.
A freelancing friend of mine is contemplating returning to full-time work because as she says, being at home makes it too tempting for her to worry about family, friends, and neighbors. She knows she needs to say “No” more often, but sometimes it just isn’t that simple. This is the kind of book that breaks down the tasks needed to get to that point, thus making everyone happier in both the short and the long terms.