This past month has been pretty stressful. Both boys are playing sports, so that’s two sets of practices and games consuming our lives every week. Work has had its ups and downs. I’m considering a job switch, which has me stressed to the max. My boys have been misbehaving and arguing more than usual — not to mention that our oldest has hit an “I’m going to be as disrespectful to my mom as I possibly can” phase. To top it all off, I am currently directing two shows, and they both go up the same weekend. 

So, yeah, it’s been a bit crazy around here lately.

Normally I just let it all consume me and try to take things day by day. Not this time. This time I realized I needed to get out of the house and have some time to myself. I just wanted to be able to breathe and relax. 

Quite a few baby animals have been born recently at our local zoo. I’ve been trying to take my kids there for a couple months, but between the weather, sports, and my rehearsal schedules, we just haven’t been able to get there. But I love going to the zoo, and I’ve been dying to see the new additions, so I decided to go by myself.

By myself.

Perhaps it seems silly to you that I would go to the zoo, of all places, on my own. There are so many other ways a mom can relax, right? Go get a massage, exercise at the gym, get a manicure, do some shopping at Target. But I am an outdoors, animal-lovin’ girl. To me, a day at the zoo is the perfect way to relax. I get to walk around and enjoy the heavenly sunshine and warm southern weather and see some beautiful creatures at the same time. I knew a morning at the zoo was exactly what I needed to de-stress. 

 

I have to admit that when I arrived, I couldn’t help but wonder what people would think when they looked at a 38-year old woman walking around the zoo by herself. But, that thought only lasted for a moment before I was off to find all the zoo babies. 

It was so peaceful being able to walk around the zoo at a leisurely pace. I could stand and watch the animals I wanted to see as long as I wanted. No kids pulling on me to go see something else. I didn’t have to hear any cries of, “I want an Icee and a pretzel” or “I don’t want to see the meerkats. Let’s see something else.” There wasn’t anyone whining because we couldn’t go on the carousel one more time.

It was quiet, serene, and restful. It was exactly what I needed. 

Taking the time to really appreciate nature is such a wonderful way to relax. As I admired my favorite animals at the zoo, I couldn’t help but be amazed at their beauty. Seeing the baby gorillas, lions, giraffe, and koala gave me peace inside and made me smile. Through the lens of my camera, I was really able to take in the full beauty and majesty of one of our zoo tigers (we have three!). I hadn’t really looked at him that closely before, but on this day, I observed him for longer than usual and was able to appreciate him. Each animal is beautiful in its own way (well, except maybe for the Hissing Cockroaches from Madagascar in the reptile house) and I had a wonderful time observing them all. 

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As I said above, I normally don’t do this kind of thing. I get stressed out and it all builds up inside me until I explode. That usually results in me yelling at my kids and my husband, having a breakdown and/or panic attack, and usually shedding lots of tears. But, that isn’t how I want things to be. So, the day I went to the zoo without my kids was a big step for me. It was me finally realizing I need to let go.

I tend to be that on-the-go person who needs to get things done right away. But, I’ve come to realize that is part of why I can get so stressed out at times. If I don’t get everything done right at the moment I want to, it causes me anxiety and stress. As a result, I have a hard time making time for myself. I always feel like there is something that needs to be done, and I should be doing it. So going out somewhere by myself that doesn’t include running errands is foreign to me. That’s why this day at the zoo was so important. I let go of that feeling of needing to get things done and let myself enjoy some much needed me time. 

Motherhood is stressful. Motherhood can feel heavy.

When it gets to that point (not IF but WHEN), we need to acknowledge those feelings. Be aware of what is going on inside you and figure out what it is that will help you relax. Maybe it’s crafting, or painting. Perhaps gardening takes your stress away. It could be a stroll in the park or going for a run. Whatever it is, find what works for you and don’t be afraid to take that time for yourself. 

How do you take time for yourself? Share with us in the comments!

**All animal pictures were taken by me. Those are the beautiful zoo babies as well as our meerkat and tiger.**