Mom guilt! We’ve all heard about it, you may have even experienced it. The mom guilt I’m referring to is the anxiety one that feels like whenever you take the time to do something for yourself that requires even the most minimal amount of time away from you kid(s). You know, the feeling of knowing you could use a night out with your girlfriends or spouse, yet you have this nagging voice in your head that convinces you that somehow taking time away for yourself is wrong. I’ve been there, done that, put it to music!
You pride yourself on putting your kids and their needs first. You ensure they have the essential needs, shower them with unconditional love and even run them to every birthday party- despite the fact that you have no idea who the birthday kid is. You are doing it all! Yet when it’s time to pour into yourself, you somehow equate that shift in attention as negative and selfish. So what if twenty-three hours of a day are dedicated to the care of the kids; that one hour you may reserve for your self just never seems acceptable. So what do you do? Because clearly we can’t continue to operate like this. It couldn’t possibly be healthy, right? I have a few ideas that might help.
- Schedule “Me” Time. I know it sounds simple but when you plan for it in advance and put it on the calendar (because hello, if it’s on the calendar it’s REAL), you can intentionally make time for yourself. Go ahead, add it in between play dates, ballet, conference calls, etc. Hell put YOUR nap on the calendar. “Oh, no sorry we can’t come, its Mom’s nap time”. The key here is to be intentional. Set an hour aside weekly; get in the habit of taking care of you so it doesn’t seem so foreign and forbidden. Set the date and stick to it!
- Surround your self with an awesome tribe. There is nothing worse than venting to someone who just doesn’t get it. Find the right group of Mommies that can empathize with your sentiments. Seek advice from them, lean on them, hang out with them. A great tribe can reinforce what you are feeling, is common. Sometimes, all we need is a sounding board of awesome women who understand the plight and can potentially help coach us through what we are experiencing.
- Take a self assessment. For me, this was key in understanding why I was experiencing such guilt. When I found myself pregnant just one month after receiving my MBA, I had this incredible feeling of having to prove myself. I had to show everyone who doubted my decision to start a family, that I could do it! That ideology permeated every thought process and every decision I made about how I approached motherhood. I avoided anything that negated my ability to be a great mom, or anything that could be perceived as being a bad mom (i.e. going out, traveling, putting myself first at times, etc.). Identify what stories or what people may have shaped how you view motherhood and parenting? What external and internal influences dictate how you raise your children? Is there a perception that you are running from, or towards? This can be monumental in discovering why you feel guilty when you take time for yourself. Was your mother the woman who was always “doing” and never did for her self, so naturally you emulate this lifestyle? Has someone’s unwarranted or unsolicited advice sat in the back of your mind for so long that now, subconsciously, you are overly cautious of how others view you as a Mommie? Or do you genuinely feel bad when you leave your child because you legitimately just want to spend all your time with them? Find out what it is and find out how you can best tackle this.
- Repeat after me, “Self Care is not Selfish”! I think as Mommies, we have a very misconstrued outlook on what self-care inherently is. There is a huge push these days for “practicing self-care” but lets be honest, a lot of us don’t know how to practice it or know what it really is for that matter. Self-care is literally taking care of yourself. Whatever contributes to your physical, mental and emotional health and stability. For one, self-care may be monthly spa dates or weekly nail appointments. For me, it’s an an hour with my therapist, journaling and morning devotionals. These self-care techniques help me to operate at my best self. For others it can be as simple as waking up before the kids and enjoying a cup of tea in complete and utter silence. Do what makes you feel at your best and know that you deserve it.
Be intentional, surround yourself with a great tribe, do a self-assessment of what can be contributing to your guilt and find the self-care techniques that make you feel your best! Know that you deserve a moment away to do what you please. Remember, we can’t pour from an empty cup ladies, so pour into yourselves every chance you get. You are an important human who had/has a life outside of your main role as a Mommie. And guess what, its ok! A lot of time guilt is self inflicted. We’re caught up in our own heads. Get out your heads and release that guilt...Mommie’s sanity matters!