10-Minutes to Happy Family Time

If you’re a stay-at-home mom, stealing a moment of calm, even for just a few minutes, can do wonders for your wellbeing—and your family’s, too.

“Taking a few minutes of solitary quiet can prevent you from getting too frustrated, exhausted, or burnt out,” says Roni Cohen-Sandler, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in Weston, Connecticut. And when you face parenting challenges, breaks allow mothers to take a deep breath and settle down their central nervous systems, which in turn helps kids to become calmer.

The result? The post-break time you share with your family is more likely to be productive and enjoyable. “It's like everyone's brains get rebooted,” says Cohen-Sandler. Here, five moms reveal where they go at home to relax, recharge, and re-emerge closer to the ones they love.

Disappearing into the laundry room with its fresh clean smell immediately puts me in a peaceful mood. I keep a journal there where I can vent or write something funny that one of my kids said or did. I’ll also spend a few minutes unwinding by folding towels or organizing the laundry bins. The whole experience is cathartic for me and undoubtedly my kids find me a lot more serene afterwards. -Cheryl, mom of eight, Narragansett, Rhode Island

I go into the bathroom and take a shower. When my first daughter was a baby, showering became an indulgence that I guarded. While I've long been picky about my body products and treated myself to ones that felt special, that became even more important to me after having my babies. That's why I don’t feel guilty about buying an expensive shampoo or spending half an hour sniffing different soaps at the store before picking just the right one. The payoff is that after my shower, I’m more relaxed and centered for my newborn and toddler. -Samara, mom of two, Columbus, Ohio

When I need to chill out, I hang out in the garage. I live in southern California where we don’t worry about harsh weather, so I park my car in the driveway. That allows the garage to function as a whole separate room. Inside there are chairs, a few tables, and a weight bench. Usually I sit down and flip through home design magazines. Looking at beautiful pictures of furniture and architecture helps me return to my boys with a clearer mind. -Val, mom of two, Los Angeles, California

My bedroom closet is my place of serenity. It isn’t huge, but it is a walk-in. Whether I sit down on the floor and take a few minutes to think or pretend to put away clothes, I manage to get a few minutes of solitude that leave me refreshed and ready to jump back into the fray of my family. -Holly, mom of three, Jacksonville, Florida

My car is my safe haven. I sit in it in the driveway where sometimes I recline the seat back, look out the sunroof, and let my mind wonder. Other times, I text funny stories to my girlfriends or read a few pages on my Kindle. The quietness and coziness of the space triggers feelings of calm and security. When I go back inside the house, my ten-year-old son and I smile at each other. We’re happy to be back together again! -Janis, mom of one, Bethel, Connecticut

Weather permitting I take abbreviated breaks outside where I stretch out on a huge flat rock in our front yard that's bordered by tall ornamental grasses. If I was feeling scattered, stressed, or tired before my getaway, I return refreshed and improved for my eight-year-old daughter, Mae, who usually notices the difference. “Mom,” she’ll say. “You’re in a better mood now.” She’s right. My face is more relaxed and I don’t seem preoccupied by other thoughts anymore. I’m right there with her, fully present, not on autopilot. We laugh, talk, and play silly games. I’m happier and my child feels a simple joy being with me. That’s the precious payoff when you take a brief but much-deserved mom break.

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