Whether you work outside the home or not, a mother multitasks all day long. You have a mile long to-do list: getting kids off to school, going to soccer games, and overseeing sleepovers. By the end of the day you’re frustrated, can’t focus, and ready to explode. With all the physical, mental, and emotional energy expended, no wonder you start to feel overwhelmed. What should you do?

You need to take time out for yourself. Taking a break, for an hour, an afternoon, or longer is a healthy part of parenting. It’s not a frivolous indulgence, but an absolute necessity.

Jeff Palitz is a licensed marriage and family therapist practicing in San Diego, California. He believes it’s important for all moms to get breaks from their daily lives. “Stress and anxiety have a cumulative impact on how people function,” he says. “The longer we go without taking a break, the less likely we are to parent how we intend. Lack of rest and excessive fatigue both increase our stress levels and decrease our ability to cope with anxiety. To maintain the level of patience that is necessary to parent effectively, moms must recharge their batteries.”

So before you feel guilty for taking a break, remember time away from your kids will make you a better parent and can be a wonderful thing for all of you. If kids don’t see their mother leading balanced lives and constantly sacrificing her needs for others, they will lack a role model for how to achieve balance themselves. In addition, time apart can bring perspective and help your kids build valuable relationships with other loving people in their lives.

Taking a break may include spending time with your husband or with friends, or you may want to spend some time alone. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, it’s the simple things that are the most satisfying and fun. Think about what you need and value and what replenishes and refreshes you. Ask your husband, friends and family members to help give you a break.

Need some ideas to get you started? Here’s a few tip on how to put calm back in your day:

  • Reading is a great way to take your mind off your family, stimulate your imagination and allow your mind to wander. Maybe you’ll want to start a book club with your friends and meet once a month for a picnic. Take turns bringing food or have a potluck. If you don’t have time or enjoy reading, a movie club can work just as well.
  • Go window shopping at the mall or have a pedicure. Whatever you consider a treat.
  • If you’re having trouble finding time, take just a moment. Listen to calm, soothing music on the way to work. Or try deep adnominal breathing or thinking of a favorite peaceful and calm place for a more relaxed body and mind.
  • Go for a run or walk. Exercising is a great way to relieve stress and return refreshed and invigorated.
  • Take a vacation day now and again. Use this time to find or rediscover something you enjoy. Or take a risk and try something new.

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