I was speaking to a room in motion, or full of commotion, the day I took on talking to a mom group about organization.
Babies squirmed, played and cried while toddlers crawled under chairs after toys and tugged to get up on laps.
Even with a dozen little ones in the room, I had everyone’s attention when I told them people can waste hours looking for things they know they have but they don’t know where they have them.
After I discussed various ways to get organized and fielded questions about toy storage, children’s chores and household routines, I concluded with a light comment that circled back to my opening remarks: “What could you do with an extra hour in your day?”
Apparently I should have begun with that question, because instead of the meeting ending, the mothers responded with wisecracks and serious comments alike.
“Sleep,” said one weary mom.
“Shower,” another called out.
Just sitting in silence was also suggested.
The moms had a great time discussing how little time they had and how much better they’d feel if they could just have a moment to regroup. As we shared favorite ways to de-stress, I ended up talking about my favorite place to escape—my bathtub.
I usually couldn’t get away from the house and my three children just because I needed a break, but I could often find a chance to get away and collect my thoughts—or have no thoughts at all—by getting away on a mini-retreat in my own bathroom.
Apparently, as witnessed by the room full of moms, I’m not the only one who needs a moment to de-stress. According to a Pew Research Center survey, nearly equal shares of working mothers and fathers report feeling stressed about juggling work and family life. In fact, taking a bath is one of the suggested methods of stress management for parents, says the Child Development Institute.
In order to turn a bath into a stress management technique, I employed a little DIY project in my bathroom. Taking some time to turn a mundane bathroom into a mini-spa can really make it feel like we are getting away for a bit. It’s easy to do and is a reward for ourselves that will pay off over time as we feel calmer, more relaxed and ready to take on the day.
Here are a few of the things I especially enjoy in my mini-getaway. You can tweak it to add features you love.
>> Set the scene. There’s a small decorative hamper next to my tub that also serves as a table. I use it to hold a drink, a snack and keep my book dry. You can also use a small bathroom bench for this purpose. If neither of those fit into your bath setup, look for a bathtub tray designed to rest across the tub and hold your goodies.
>> Entertain yourself. Stock up on something fun to read that you can keep in your bathroom for just that soak. Great short stories or magazines are a perfect mini-break. Load some soothing music on your phone or mp3 device so you’ll have tunes handy as well.
>> Feel special. Get a luxurious spa feel by tossing a fluffy rug on the floor and laying out some plush towels. Be sure to keep the towels in easy reach of the tub. I tuck mine in the small hamper I use as a table, but you could also keep them close by on a towel valet.
>> Get pampered. Think like a resort. Appeal to all of your senses. Light some scented candles and toss some bath beads or oil in the water. Keep a scented lotion on hand for after the soak.
It does make me laugh when I think about how I’d go to lengths to get everything just right for those few minutes to regroup. When my children were old enough to be unsupervised for a half-hour, I’d check in with each of them to see if they needed anything first.
“I’m going to take a bath. Unless someone needs to call 911, please give me 30 minutes,” I’d say.
This worked for a while, until my kids discovered if they talked directly into the hall air vent, the sound would go right into the bathroom like a funnel. At least I was under a warm bubble blanket as I shouted back.
I have figured out it’s possible to combine the three most vocal wishes from the mom’s group. Sometimes I’d get a few minutes of silence that turned into a much-needed 10-minute nap. Either way, I got the shower the moms craved.
It was 10 minutes that allowed me to feel ready to take on cheering at ballgames, preparing dinner like a short-order cook, cleaning up messes and dispensing hugs.
Author: Lea Schneider
Image: Dennis Wong/Flickr
Editors: Emily Bartran; Toby Israel