How to Take a Pause as a Parent:
7 Simple Breaks to Incorporate into Your Everyday Routine

by Rachael O'Meara

Photo credit: JGI/Jamie Grill, Blend Images/Getty Images

Incorporating pauses into daily life can be a huge benefit for parents and caregivers. I encourage all parents — whether newbies or soon-to-be empty nesters — to incorporate intentional shifts in behavior into their everyday routine to better align their minds and bodies with what feels replenishing. No matter what phase of parenting you are in, pausing will allow you to stop and check in with yourself so that you can better understand what you need as much as what your kids need.

Daily Pauses for Parents

Pausing is easy, simple, and, best of all, costs nothing! Whether you take one minute or 15, these pauses can help parents feel calm and rejuvenated. And there’s no reason why you can’t make these a practice with your kids too. Daily pauses are a great way to connect and spend time being fully present to both yourself and other members of your family.

Give yourself permission to experiment with the seven ideas below and see what works for you.

Belly Breath Pause
Sit or stand with both feet firmly on the ground and close your eyes if you are comfortable doing so. Place one hand on your diaphragm and slowly inhale, hold your breath, and slowly exhale. Count each inhale until you get to 10 breaths.

Digital Device Pause
Take a digital device pause by creating a rule to limit your engagement with devices while with your child (or other loved ones). This can mean putting down your devices for a set period of the day, like during playtime, or allowing yourself a limited amount of time to be on email or social media throughout the day.

Five Senses Pause
Go through the five senses one by one — asking yourself what you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel — and take notice of what you’re experiencing both within you and around you. The best part about this pause is that you can do it anytime, anywhere. It’s a great “time out” to tune into your five senses.

Outdoor Pause
Go outside for whatever length of time is convenient. Focus on a section of what you can see in front of you, and zone in. You can start by looking at the ground and asking yourself (or your child), “What color is the ground? What is the texture like?” You can kneel down and feel the ground, or touch a signpost or tree.

Hot Beverage Pause
Sip a cup of coffee or tea without distractions. Practice following your breath or noticing how your cup and its contents look, feel, smell, and taste.

Gratitude Pause
Express gratitude for at least one thing today. Build your list up to ten things throughout the day, or set a timer for one minute and express gratitude for everything that comes to mind — the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Mindful Awareness Pause
Establish a daily “mindful” awareness pause where you focus all your attention on something routine, like brushing your teeth, eating, or walking.

If you already have a daily pause practice, journal about your experience or add more time to your existing practice. One study showed that writing about an emotional experience for two minutes per day for two consecutive days can improve your mood and well-being.

Deciding to take a daily pause is an act of courage and kindness. Gift yourself the permission to pause and intentionally shift your behavior to practice some parental self-care, replenish your energy reserves, and invigorate your life vibrancy.


Learn more about the benefits of regularly taking breaks and how to effectively pause in Rachael O’Meara’s book Pause: Harnessing the Life-Changing Power of Giving Yourself a Break.