Mums need time out too

Some days I feel overwhelmed.

By the things I’ve got to do, by the kids acting up, by the conflicts I’ve got to manage and resolve. Some days it just gets a little too heavy to bear.

And I start to react.

I start to scream. In my head or out loud.

I start to feel like my world is caving in.

That’s when I know I need to call for time-out.

I’d send an SOS message to the hubby. It’d read something like, “I’m feeling damn crappy, I need to get out of here.”

And (during the moments when I don’t feel out of control) I’d try to communicate to the kids too. “Vera, JJ, mummy is feeling mad. I’m going to go downstairs, get a cup of coffee and calm down.”

That’s the better scenario. Often, I would have screamed and let it all go already.

…I’ve learnt that feeling overwhelmed isn’t necessarily an evil thing.

If we listen to our bodies, it’s signaling to us how it’s doing every day.

You’re tired – get some rest.
Your mind is bogged down by work – relax, go for a walk, write down the things you have to do, and prioritise them.
You’re upset at the kids for not listening to your instructions – see if you can do things differently, instead of saying it louder, use a softer voice to make them pay attention, let them feel the consequence of their actions, rather than keep nagging at them.

Often when I feel overwhelmed, I send out SOS-es to my hubby or girlfriends, asking for prayers.

I share with someone who will listen without judging.

I check my schedule and cut down on things that can wait.

By doing these things, I’m telling myself that I care for ME. I need to take care of my needs and sanity, before I can tackle the rest of my responsibilities.

Most of all, overwhelmed is a big sign, telling me to STOP. Reminding me to sit and find rest at His feet.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed today, take time out, seek Him, and He will give you rest.

(PS. Here’s a line from a song that I’ve been listening to.)

foot of the cross

The best mother’s day gifts I could ever receive

This mother’s day, I am not expecting any presents. (Mainly because the hubby is away. Also because we managed to enjoy a movie and a nice brunch before he left.)

But I’d like to give myself some very important gifts.

Some of you may have read about my recent HFMD episode.

After recovering from that, I was ill again a few days later, falling prey to the flu bug.

Though the flu was a lot less painful, I was still feeling pretty down, almost wading in a pool of self-pity at times.

I found myself spending those silent pre-slumber moments telling God how much I really want to be well again. That I don’t want to be a grouchy and tired mama anymore. And that I really want to be able to enjoy my days with my family and friends.

Life is often unpredictable, and a big part of me wants to have it controlled, known, predictable. So that I know what’s going to happen next. Now I know that’s not fully possible, but I sure know now that the most important thing I can do for myself is to exercise, eat well and stay healthy.

So…I’ve taken some baby steps back to a healthy physical state. I’ve signed up for a pilates class running at a nearby community centre. And I’ve also been making sure I eat more fruits and drink more water (less caffeine too *ahem, still trying*) a day.

I’m also relooking my schedule of committed responsibilities and trying to see where I can “trim the fat” so to speak.

In place of things I’m choosing to remove or cut down on, I’m penciling in rest for mama, and favourite me-time activities like reading, swimming, and exploring new cafes with girlfriends.

I’m also looking forward to spending more time with God, and to reclaim those lost moments eaten up by distractions of every sort.

Something I’ve learnt during the recent “downtime” is that when we’re rushing about from activity to activity day by day, we tend to lose sight of the big picture, of the goals that we’ve set for ourselves.

But when life hits the pause button, I’m able to reflect on my life, the things that I’m doing well or not so well as a wife and mother. Somehow, my heart is free to explore and give voice to the dreams and purpose that God has deposited in me.

It’s all too easy to fill our lives with the humdrum of activity and busyness. But like how recent focus has been placed on returning pockets of empty time for children to play, create and allow their imagination to run wild, so it is with adults. We too need time to unwind, reflect, and create.

This mother’s day, I’m giving these gifts to myself:

The gift of less yelling, and more understanding.
The gift of a healthy and joyful life.
The gift of a restful life.

Of course, a hundred big hugs would be nice too… 😉

The gift of rest

Faith, hope and love

Here are my favourite photos from last weekend. I call them Faith. Hope. Love.

Last weekend, I felt like I needed a gadget that could freeze time. I watched the kids play, throw caution to the wind, let their hair down, and just lose themselves in play. I watched the hubby play alongside, chasing them, being chased by them, piggy-backing them…We played make-believe, re-enacting the scenes of our current favourite storybook, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (chinese version).

We watched as the kids romped about at the playground, lost in their own world of exploration and wonder. I looked at the man and he looked at me, and I said “Wow. So this is what life with kids is like.” “Yeah” he replied,”until they grow up that is.”

Trust him to inject a dose of realism into my reverie.

Still, I tried to focus on the present. The simple, carefree present. I tried not to fast-forward into the ever-important school days and its related stresses. I wanted to freeze time, as it is, right here and now.

It’s funny because not too long ago, I remember feeling rather overwhelmed by my weekends. But recently and rather unexpectedly, our weekends have created pockets of relaxation for us.

It might be because of JJ’s newfound freedom of legs and the resultant loss of clinginess. It might be that the brother and sister have found some formula to entertain themselves, without getting into too much trouble. Whatever the cause, I think we’re having a lot more fun now as a family than I can remember in a long while. The baby has also been sleeping better too, which is a big plus and a cause for celebration with some oomphatic chocolate cake.

So the pictures were named Faith. Hope. Love.

Partly to remind myself not to sweat the small things. Partly to remind myself that God gives grace to parents, to cope with the concerns of the here and now, and that we need not worry unduly about the future.

It’s a blessing for parents to find pockets of respite amidst our parenting duties. Pockets of joy and wonder. Pockets of delight.

When that happens, I can’t help but feel like I want to freeze time.

It’s the weekend. I’m looking forward to some swimming, and some dancing with the kids. Here’s to more Faith. Hope. Love.

For you too.

What do you enjoy most about weekends?

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