Dealing with Parenting Stress | 10 Signs You Need a Break

We love our kids, but that doesn't mean we want to be with all the time. Eventually, every mother (or father) needs to get away and spend some time alone or with friends, no kids allowed. It may make us feel like bad parents, but actually, it is an essential part to remaining physically, mentally and emotionally healthy in order to be the best parent we can to our kids. Here are 10 signs that it's time for you to recharge:


  1. You can't remember the last time you took a break.
  2. Your partner, friends or family are encouraging you to take a break.
  3. You're becoming impatient and irritable, even snapping at your partner and/or child(ren).
  4. You are or are getting sick.
  5. You forget important details like how old your baby is or whether or not your child has had chicken pox.
  6. You have difficulty coping with small setback (for example, literally crying over spilled milk).
  7. You resent doing household tasks (cooking, laundry, helping with homework) that you used to enjoy or at least not mind.
  8. You haven't showered in more than 48 hours.
  9. You find yourself getting angry or resentful at your child(ren) or partner.
  10. You turn to unhealthy habits (drinking, smoking, eating junk food, etc.) to cope.

If you find yourself in need of a break, take it. Arrange for a sitter and go to the bookstore or the mall. Avoid the children's section/stores, and don't run errands -- this is your time. Head to Starbucks and indulge in a latte. Make it decaf with skim milk if you have to -- as long as you can enjoy it! Sip it while you read a magazine, or ask a friend to meet you and catch up on the lastest gossip.

You could also try scheduling a regular break by signing up for a yoga class, hitting the gym every day or making time for a hobby you used to like or want to try. Even an hour a week can make a big difference to your mental, emotional and even physical state.

Maybe, after repeating your favorite escape a couple of times, some of the things above may begin to relinquish their hold on you.

Breaks from the kids are really important to being the good mom you really want to be. Without these moments, you will find yourself becoming increasingly overwhelmed and unable to cope, which will in turn make you unable to parent well. If you don't have a close friend to join for coffee, call your kids' school, your church or a community association and see if they have or know of a moms' group you could join. Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) is a really good option. Mothers-at-Home is another. As always, the Internet is a great resource for finding something -- or someone -- in your are with whom you can escape.

Get over the guilt and get out of the house (or at least away from the kids) -- you'll actually be a better parent for it.