Mom’s Day (or night) Out
08/21/2015 02:36PM ● Published by Aubray Onderik
By: Courtney Phillips
Rest and Relaxation, Mommy-Style
No one knows the joy of a small child’s bedtime better than a parent. After lovingly tucking in a day of play or trial, a parent tiptoes quietly into the euphoric world of free will, at least until the first feeding, diaper change or monster-vanquishing. Realistically, hours dwindle to minutes after addressing lingering chores or work responsibilities, but the need remains.
In these brief moments of independence, a parent’s personality may lead them to seek solitude, time with a spouse or a night out with friends. There’s no wrong way to spend that time, according to Dr. Faye Knauss, Fayetteville clinical health psychologist and mother of two girls, ages 6 and 3. “I think it depends on the person. It’s a question of how people refuel. We all recharge differently. Extroverts tend to refuel through meaningful interaction with others. Introverts can be very social people, but they refuel and recharge alone. The key is to tune into yourself and be mindful of when you need it. There is no set amount of time or frequency.”
A Night on the Town
Recently, Dr. Knauss and her friends met at Fayetteville artist Shari Link’s Haymount design studio on Fort Bragg Road on a weeknight evening to reconnect and unwind while painting flowerpots. An ideal outing for a group of moms, Shari instructs groups of budding artists in her studio, or for groups of six people or more, she will come to a host’s home for a “paint party.” Indoor and outdoor pillows, ornaments and flowerpots are among the most popular “canvases” for the parties, but clients can paint whatever they like. Using acrylic paint, creative pursuits are complete and mostly dry in a couple of hours – perfect for a parent’s time constraints.
Reasons to Rest
A brief break from mommy and daddy mode with a couple hours in an art studio with friends, a date with a spouse or quiet time with a book can pay dividends, for parents and children alike. “Culturally, it’s important to show our children that we are taking care of our basic needs, so that we encourage them to take care of themselves. Why wouldn’t I want to model that behavior for my girls? Also, for attachment purposes, they need to see us leave and see us come back. We all benefit. We have to give ourselves permission to be better parents,” said Knauss.
Fayetteville is full of creative ways for parents to refuel, together or alone. Many parents enjoy the benefits of fitness center childcare, church activities and organized sports to provide quality care and a short respite.
Snyder Memorial Baptist Church’s Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPs) program recognizes barriers to time alone when parenting small children. In addition to twice-monthly meetings, for which childcare is provided, they have “Mom’s Night Out” opportunities four times per year. MOPs provides affordable, enriching childcare and dinner to members’ little ones while mom - or mom and dad - have four hours to themselves. Karen McAmis, MOPPETs leader of Snyder MOPs and mom of three boys, ages 6, 4 and nine months, said, “Most parents come back with smiles on their faces. You can tell they needed time away and are relieved to have gotten some. Almost everyone is happy to see their kids, too, which is the most fun thing to see.” Personally, Karen has been a member of MOPs for six years, coordinator for four years and has taken advantage of the Mom’s Night Out opportunity many times. “Most days I’m so exhausted that, although I say, ‘I love you,’ I’m not sure I’m showing it. Time apart renews us and gives us just enough energy to show the love we have for our kids.”
What if a parent doesn’t have time to watch the paint dry while they laugh with friends or disappear downtown for several hours? Living with an infant or with a spouse deployed can limit an already tight schedule. “So often, we don’t seek time for ourselves because we don’t have huge chunks of time. When I know I need to regroup, even 10 to 15 minutes in my room meditating or talking on the phone with a friend will help. When I am reunited with my children, I am a more engaged parent,” said Knauss.
Studies show that just ten quiet, mindful minutes alone may reduce stress and lower blood pressure while improving memory and cognition, boosting creativity, empathy and the immune system.
How Local Moms Relax
Having a full time job and two children leaves very little time to myself. I have to make time to recharge by playing tennis on several tennis teams with some fabulous ladies from the community. When I can get away a few times a month, I like to unwind with my husband and friends at local restaurants like Luigi’s, Circa 1800, Chris's Steakhouse and Morgan’s Chop House or get a massage from the Renaissance Day Spa or Mi Hwa's Salon. Renaissance and Mi Hwa’s are the best places to go! -Katherine Armstrong, mother of two girls, ages 8 and 6.
One of the ways I recharge at home is to read. I love to read and enjoy my book club that meets once a month. Even when busy, I make time to attend this for a couple hours to myself! In Fayetteville, I like to eat downtown with my husband, Ty, and go see a movie at The Cameo. -Paige Ross, mother of two girls, ages 7 and 2.
I work full-time and I’m training for the Spartan Sprint in September, so I don’t have much free time. I work out with a group of people twice a week, and that’s a good way to socialize and work toward a goal at the same time. But, to recharge, I don’t want to go out. That’s like work. I like Netflix and take-out on the couch. – Tiffany Faulk, mother of two girls, ages 6 and 4.
I’m a single parent. My favorite way to recharge is to put on some George Jones and get lost in a good book. Right now, I’m reading the Bible. It helps me to continue to be grounded, grow in my faith and reminds me I’m not in this alone. I also like to go to the beach. Something about looking at the beauty of the ocean soothes my soul. -Tabitha Jones, mother of a boy and girl, ages 6 and 3.
I enjoy playing tennis and that’s how I get my “recharge” because I am able to get fun and exercise from one activity. I like to spend time with my husband, Kenny, at a restaurant, preferably Blackstone Smokehouse and Pub. I’m a member of a prayer group that meets once per week and I do paint-by-number canvases while the twins nap. One painting takes two or three weeks to complete and I really enjoy them! – Margaret Barefoot, mother of three boys and one girl, ages 8, 5, 2 and 2.
Other than MOPS, I try to get time alone by going out with my friends. My husband is very good about letting me schedule regular time away to have “girl’s night” or just dinner or coffee with a friend. As a couple, we try to do date-nights, but it’s often hard to find a sitter for the boys! My husband has been deployed twice since we’ve had kids and I didn’t go out much without them. I have a few friends that would trade babysitting with me (I would watch their kids and she would watch mine). I also went home to Wisconsin so my parents could help out for a few weeks. Truly, I don’t remember getting much alone time while my husband was deployed. I did cherish the time I had to myself after the boys went to bed! –Karen McAmis, mother of three boys, ages 6, 4 and 9 months.