Take breaks. It is a well-researched fact: you have to take breaks to be productive.
You also need breaks to be the best parent you can be.
1. Protect yourself from collapse
Mental fogginess. Poor digestion. Extreme fatigue. Without breaks you are liable to suffer not only reduced productivity but also decreased health. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of working harder and harder, just doing whatever it takes to succeed (no matter the strain on your brain or your body).
Stop being your own slave master. Instead become your own best friend. Look for signs of work stress and respond immediately. Even better, look for ways to prevent near collapse long before it becomes a reality. By building breaks into your schedule you are taking the time to protect your health.
2. Your kids will thank you
Your children know when you’re stressed. It stresses them, too. A stressed out Mama may lash out or tune out or say things she’ll later regret. A stressed out dad may immediately punish instead of taking time to listen, may criticize rather than encourage, or may withdrawal just when connection is needed.
Instead, parent from a place of peace. Peace-filled parenting allows for spontaneity, creativity, and playfulness. You’ll feel better about it, and so will your children. Take the time to release the stress and make room for the young people who need you the most and love you the best. Relaxed parents make the best parents.
3. Cooperate (with your self)
You are working hard because you have goals. But if you work too hard or too long, you actually endanger your ability to meet your goals because you endanger your health.
Take a step back and take stock. Is the work or academic goal you have set worth the price of your sanity or strength? (The correct answer is “No” just in case you hesitated.) So pause and reflect on how to make your work goals cooperate with your health goals. The two actually can support each other. In fact, when they do, your success is more Joyful and endearing. Taking breaks is part of what brings that about.
4. Increase your motivation
It is really hard to roll out of bed to and get started on that to-do list when EVERYTHING on it is complete drudgery. Increase your motivation by working breaks into your day. Taking a break means having something to look forward to every hour or at the completion of a small part of a large task.
Pencil in a time to connect with your children. Make sure that at least one of your breaks involves the kids. Both you and your children can begin to look forward to this time every day.
5. Model wise behavior for your children
Children learn to do what they see. Encourage your children to be balanced in how they spend their time by being balanced in how you spend yours.
Be honest with your kids and tell them that you need breaks from your work. Even invite them to be a part of some of your breaks. Then, they will both see and experience how helpful it is to balance work and play. Just teach them how to return to their work afterwards.
6. Boost your creativity
Breaks are brain boosters.
7. Improve your work performance
It’s easy to get so focused on what you are working on that you forget to stop and smell the roses. Then, what you are working on suffers. However, when you step outdoors and drink in the scents and take in the sounds, your mind and your focus are renewed.
When you go a step further and reflect on how far God has brought you toward reaching your goals, you will find your self so highly motivated that your work performance improves. You actually become more dedicated to seeing the project to completion
None of that can happen without taking breaks.
You’ve got kids, right? Then right there (in your own home!) are Masters of Play.
A couple of years ago, I confessed to my kids that I didn’t know how to play. Right then and there, they committed to teach me! They drew me into board games, action movies, pool parties, and nature hikes. It was actually hard for me at first. Play seemed counter productive, time-consuming, and tiring. But with consistent effort, I began to enjoy myself.
You can, too. If you need permission, allow me to grant it right now. You have the right, and even the responsibility, to bring play into your day.
9. Set the stage for problem solving
Everything listed above, including the need to decide when and how to take breaks, requires problem solving. Do you realize that your ability to problem solve actually diminishes if you don’t take breaks? Don’t get caught in a losing cycle.
Take breaks from your work, so that when you return to work, you can solve your problems with greater ease. Even more important, when your kids need you to take a break, you’ll be able to honor their need by clearly thinking through how much time you can carve out for them and when.
10. Work at the pace God has set for you
The most compelling reasons for breaks throughout busy work days are the examples quoted in Scripture. Jesus often went alone to a remote place to pray. As the Good Shepherd, Jesus makes us lie down in green pastures and leads us near quiet waters (from Psalm 23). Boaz taught the hardworking Ruth how and when to take breaks while gleaning barley (in Ruth 2).
“I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” – Jeremiah 31:25
Take breaks in creative ways
I think you will find your breaks more refreshing if you change up what you do. That’s why I wrote a post with a list of 27 creative ways that I like to take breaks.
Check it out and choose which ones in the list will work for you. Email me and let me know what you liked.