Winter break leaves me feeling completely out-of-sorts. I love having my kids home and this year my husband was able to take off about a week and a half so we were able to catch-up on some much-needed family time.

But, when everyone goes back to work and school and I realize my work has been sidelined, I look at my long list of tasks and am completely unable to know where to start. The fact that the end of winter break also coincides with the New Year – when I often feel the need to hit the ground running– makes this sense of trudging through layers of backlog and unfinished tasks even more daunting. I know I’m not alone here. This isn’t even expat stuff – this is life stuff that happens to everyone, even those of you who stay in one place.

Sometimes it helps just to put my nose to the grindstone and start in on those tasks, but at other times I do the next logical thing – I call my mom.

My mom has always been a hard-worker and someone who believes in putting one’s best foot forward (I mean, the woman wears make-up to Walgreens!). However, more than that, I admire her ability to take a break and I love the way in which she always encourages the people she loves to do something fun or relaxing when feeling overwhelmed.

My Mom has perfected the art of break-taking. If you ever feel like you need a break you can call her and she will have the perfect recommendation. A firm believer in the mental health day, she insists that these are good for you and according to the research she’s right. Read more about the science of break-taking here and here.

We all have our ways to regroup, but when I need to clear my head, I love some of my mom’s strategies. They’re so sweet and thoughtful and mom-like. Check ‘em out. And then grab a cup of tea and make your own little Go-To Take A Break List. You’ll feel so much better and I promise you won’t regret it for a second!

  1. Stop and drink tea. Hot tea in winter. Iced tea in summer. Tea always makes things better.
  2. Pay attention to and take care of your sheets and pajamas because they’re a big part of good breaks. Put on your pajamas, get under your perfect sheets and take a nap.
  3. If you need a break to cry, then take a break and cry. No shame.
  4. Share a big cookie with a friend.
  5. Go for a walk.
  6. Call your mom. If this isn’t possible – call the person you’d call mom if you had the choice.
  7. Buy a new sweater.
  8. Send a card to a friend and tell her how much she means to you.
  9. Color in your coloring books.
  10. Get some fresh flowers and put them in a vases in the following three places – on your kitchen table, in your bathroom, next to your bed.
  11. Read a book and fall asleep on the couch.
  12. Sit outside somewhere and just pay attention.
  13. Sit outside somewhere with a friend…and just pay attention.
  14. Eat something that involves crackers, cheese (or peanut butter) and fruit.

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