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Is it possible to spend too much time with your kids?

Tiernan McKay is a freelance writer based in Denver, Colorado. Her writing has appeared in magazines such as Alive!, Occupational Health and Safety, Restaurants and Institutions, Tampa Bay and Arizona Woman. Right now, she is either ridi...

Every mom needs a break

Spending quality time with your kids is one of the joys of parenting but when you’re with your kids all the time, it may be tough to feel the joy.

Finding a balance between spending time with your kids and having time for yourself is one of motherhood’s greatest challenges, but finding that balance may help you avoid mommy burnout.

Mothers typically want to give 110 percent to their children but that often leaves them feeling a bit dazed, drained and sometimes discouraged. Balance is the key to sane motherhood and finding it may not be that difficult.

Overdoing it

Family togetherness can be a beautiful thing. It can also be overwhelming. Just as open communication and shared interests are important to a healthy homefront, so is some breathing room. "The most responsible parents — who take their parenting responsibilities very seriously — are most susceptible to overdoing the togetherness," says Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., (aka "Dr. Romance") psychotherapist and author of Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage. "Also, first-time parents and parents of only children are more likely to make this mistake."

Read about 5-minute mommy time-outs >>

"Red Flag Alert"

When you find yourself completely consumed by your children, caring for yourself is probably the last thing on your mind. Ironically, this situation leaves you unable to be your best version of super mom. "A simple acronym I use to help moms recognize when they are spending too much time with their kids and not enough time on self-care is to notice their R.F.A. — the 'Red Flag Alert'," says April O'Leary, life coach and founder of The University of Moms. "Moms often put their needs so far behind everyone else's and sacrifice themselves to such a degree that they become frustrated, resentful, angry or depressed and then add guilt on top of it because they feel 'bad' for feeling this way."

Find out 6 ways moms can take care of themselves today >>

"Service or Sacrifice"

It’s easy to fall into a hardcore routine as a mom. Unfortunately, the comfort of that routine sometimes leaves moms oblivious to their own mental health. "If you regularly notice you are experiencing an R.F.A. then it's time for an S.O.S. assessment," says O’Leary. "Ask yourself if you are giving ‘Service or Sacrifice’ to your children. It's OK to be of service to our children but when that service turns into sacrifice of our own needs and desires and our self-care is non-existent, problems regularly follow." This recognition is all for naught unless a mom moves forward without guilt in an effort to move herself up the priority list.

Read about mommy guilt: "You" time versus "kid' time >>

Get it done

Dr. Tessina offers the following tips to help moms juggle their responsibilities and find balance between time with the kids and self-care:

  • Allow children over 7 to spend occasional nights at extended family or friends' homes, and then reciprocating. Friends and family can watch smaller children for an evening or an afternoon.
  • "Family networks" in which several families share time, driving, trade of babysitting, etc. can really expand the amount of time off that each family enjoys.
  • It's important to have 'adult time' as well as 'alone time' to maintain a healthy sense of self.
  • Take charge of personal and family time. Families need to sit down together and decide which activities are really worth doing, and which are just part of the "rat race."
  • Network with other young families in your neighborhood or those you meet via childbirth classes, parenting classes and baby/parent classes.

More about spending time with your kids

How involved are you in your kids' lives?
How to make the most of your time with your kids
Activities for enriching quality time with your kids

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