In my quest to find ways to build at least one break into my busy schedule, I first kept a 5-day log of the activities that fill the hours each day (What Have We Here?). Then I sat down, mug of hot tea and bullet journal at the ready, to analyze the results.
The log confirmed what I already knew:
1. I already take breaks on non-babysitting days (weekends and, now, Mondays & Wednesdays).
2. Perhaps because I’m so busy on babysitting days, I tend to fritter away the days I don’t babysit. I get quite a bit accomplished, yes, but I also take far more — and longer — breaks than I need.
As for finding breaks on days I babysit, I discovered that on most days I do have opportunities for breaks. Maybe not a traditional “sit down on the couch with a glass of tea and a good book for 15-20 minutes” type of break, but a break nonetheless. I just have to be both creative and judicious in how I use the time I’m gifted every day. Here are just a few of the ideas I jotted down.
1. Combine all errands to one lunch hour per week. I could run errands on Saturday, but I choose not to for various reasons.
2. On non-errand day lunch breaks, enjoy my sack lunch while sitting in my car reading a mid-day devotional at a nearby city park. When finished eating, read or recline my seat and enjoy the view. No texting or checking social media, news sites, or play online games such as Wordle.
3. Grab opportunities that present themselves for even quick mental breaks. Any time Big Little and Little Little are playing independently or when giving Little Little a bottle, keep my eye on the Littles but quiet my brain. Instead of thinking of everything I need to get done when I get home, simply empty my brain as much as possible or pray or “sing” an uplifting song inside my head.
4. Only reach for my phone when my daughter calls/texts (she may have a question about her daughters) or when I want to take a picture of the Littles. Instead of going online, I can take a quick break — sit down, sip some water, and relax.
5. Be completely in the moment when "working" (in my case, caring for the Littles). No more building block towers while thinking of projects waiting for me at home or wondering what's going on elsewhere. When thoughts of the outside world -- Ukraine, a dear relative fighting cancer, another friend's recent exciting news -- simply say a quick prayer or praise and refocus on what's going on right in front of me.
There were a few more, but I think you get the idea. I put the ideas into practice all last week and was pleased but not at all surprised that my stress level was appreciably lessened. And that’s despite the fact that Big Little had a stomach virus the first two days of the week (sick to her stomach 3 times on Monday)!
I hope that you, too, are able to find ways to incorporate breaks into your busy schedule. Join in the discussion by sharing your thoughts, successes, challenges, etc., in a comment!