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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

The 20-Minute Mommy-Sanity Fix

By Christina Katz

As a new mother, I definitely had my mommy meltdown moments. They snuck up on me, usually when I was endeavoring for the umpteenth time to finally get something done. That’s when my baby girl, Samantha, would start to shriek because she wanted out of her two-speed swing, or when one of our three cats would decide to hurl a hairball across the light-colored carpet, and when my lunch would explode in a muffled splat all over the inside of the microwave.

At times like these I’d get the hint and stop whatever I was doing. I’d pick up my pouty-lipped princess, collapse into our wonderfully overstuffed lounge chair, and begin to rhythmically rock and hum a lullaby. Samantha probably thought all this soothing behavior was for her benefit, but the truth was I was actually plotting my next 20-minute break—the best trick I’ve learned for how to avoid mommy burnout.
So next time life gives you 20 minutes, don’t waste a single moment complaining that it’s not enough time. Just jump right into one of these relaxing rituals instead, and you’ll find that the cure for mommy burnout was within your grasp all along.

1. Sip some tea. Enjoy the perfect cup of tea and your favorite tea cookies while daydreaming by an open window. My mother used to keep her “special cookies” hidden so the kids couldn’t raid her secret stash. Now I do, too.

2. Go on a walkabout. Get your heart rate up with a brisk walk, preferably around the most scenic route in your neighborhood. As you walk, shake those baby-toting kinks out of your arms and shoulders.

3. Write a postcard. Write four fanciful postcards to your dearest faraway friends. Short on postcards? Find the four prettiest pieces of notepaper in the house, and write a hand-written note with the most grown-up pen you have.

4. Grab a good read. Flip through that old stack of magazines you never have time to read. Tear out the pages with articles that really interest you, staple them, and keep them in a magazine holder close to the door, so you can grab one on the way out. Read your selection in the passenger seat, while waiting in line at the grocery store, or anywhere else you find yourself with a few minutes of down time.

5. Savor a sitcom. Set your DVR to record your favorite funny sitcoms, or designate a weekly time to catch up with your shows on your computer. During these times, shut the door, turn out the lights, and enjoy (with or without commercials). Ah.

6. Dance it out. Close the shades, put on your headphones, find your favorite dance music, and get down. Don’t stop until your stress and strain shimmy away.

7. Commune with nature. Sit outside under a tree. Listen. Write what you hear in a poem.

8. Treat yourself to fresh flora. Buy yourself inexpensive bunches of flowers. Arrange them in your loveliest vases, and place them around the house.

9. Make a vision board. More fun with old magazines: Make a collage of images that represent your future hopes and goals. Don’t hold back! Dream big.

10. Pretend you are five. Engage your inner child—finger paint, play with clay, or color with crayons. Focus on the fun of the process, not the quality of the product.

11. Connect with your future self. What happens when you use your imagination to talk to an older, wiser version of yourself? Write the results in your journal.

12. Soak. Turn on some soothing music, fire up a few candles, dim the lights, and sink into a sumptuous bubble bath.

13. Write a gratitude list. Then write a second list expressing gratitude for all the things you wish you had, as though you already had them.

14. Be a rock star. Sing in the shower as loudly as you like. Buy soaps and shampoos with scents that inspire you.

15. Take a power nap. Set your alarm clock for 20 minutes, lie down, and start counting backwards from one hundred. When you’re alarm goes off, you’ll be rested and refreshed, whether you fell asleep or not.

Christina Katz is always on the lookout for her next small indulgence.