To breathe, think, sleep even - imagine that!?
All moms I know I'd consider to be Super Moms. Moms who do it all, be it all to everyone, and typically put themselves last.
We try to juggle everything... working, exercise, relationships, friendships, birthday parties, planning activities and play dates, doctor's appointments, emails, cleaning the house, cooking real meals instead of microwaved ones, ETC. The list never ends. Always something else to do, say, be, respond to, work on, organize...
So recently I took a personal day from work. It was a Tuesday. I slept in an hour longer than normal, got the kids up and ready, drove them to daycare (in my pajamas, bed head and all!), and didn't think twice about it. I didn't feel guilty at all. My babysitter is AMAZING and totally encouraged me to get the heck out of town and relax, the kids would be fine with her.
I'm with her. The kids ARE fine away from mommy. Honestly, they are. In fact, they probably have tons of fun getting all that attention and new toys and friends to play with. It's their norm anyway, if I'd been working they'd have been there already.
I think too many moms have this expectation that they MUST be with their kids at all times that they possibly can be, or else... Or else what, is my question?! Or else the world will end? Or else the kids will be mad or scarred for life for having some time away from you?
IT'S OK to take time away. Honestly, try it for one hour, you will feel better and probably be a more patient mom later, and the kids will have smiles on their faces.
This is one mommy guilt I advocate that you let go of PRONTO. It doesn't do any of you any good to feel like you have to do it all, all the time.
I intended on this personal day to do the following:
- 5 loads of laundry, at least
- clean my room (under the bed, vacuum behind the dresser and cob webs in the ceiling
- clean the kitchen, top to bottom and wash the floors
- scrub the shower
- respond to some emails for work, and read some articles for work
- plan my daughter's upcoming birthday party
- go grocery shopping
- ETC. I'm sure there were more things in my head I thought I could attempt to do in one six-hour period.
And then I got home, after dropping the kids off at school and looked around at the absolute MESS (we hadn't cleaned up after dinner and kids went to bed the evening before because I knew I had a personal day to deal with it the next day... how ridiculous the logic - oh, mom can just handle it, it's fine.).
You know, those things you just DO. The things that are just part of your own routine. The things you do for everyone else. All the time.
Sometimes in the past I have taken personal days to do all of the above... organizing, cleaning, preparing for parties or Christmas, etc. Things I can't do with the littles running around.
And I thought, um, no thanks. I'm all set with this mess. It'll get messy again the second they all return home this afternoon anyway, so why bother cleaning it now?!
So I decided to do this instead:
- Watched TV
- Called 3 of my friends to say hi
- Ran on the treadmill while watching old One Tree Hill reruns and read a magazine
- Ate steak for lunch (leftovers from a restaurant)
- Ate Girl Scout Cookies as frequently as I felt like it, without having to hide in the corner for fear my kids would want some, too
- Put one load of laundry from washer to dryer, but refused to put another load into washer to get it going for later
- Went to a consignment store just for me (typically I'm shopping for the kids only), browsed, tried things on, purchased, smiled!
- Browsed Target lazily, looked for bathing suits for me, picked up some Easter things for the kids, which was fine because it's nice to do it ahead of time when I'm relaxed.
- Actually showered. Actually put makeup on and a cute outfit instead of my typical Mom Attire.
My husband even texted me in the middle of the day asking if I could manage to pick up something at the store for him. I planned to do it... then after hanging out at home doing my own stuff, I only had a certain amount of time before I had to get the kids in the afternoon... so I chose to not go to the store for him and instead went to do my own shopping. CRAZY. I'd never done that before, chose me over someone else, said no to a request of someone I care about.
Don't worry, I went to the store later. But it didn't interrupt my personal day. I was SUPER proud of myself for this.
I even got myself an iced chai - my all-time relaxation treat since high school. It instantly calms me, rejuvenates me and gets me energized for whatever else is coming in my day.
I have to admit, driving around (in my mom van...) I felt like a rock star, all showered and cute clothes without kids' handprints or boogers on them, and listening to MY music, sipping on my Starbucks... hilarious these small things that make our mom days so much brighter.
Here's the thing... it's a necessity to relax. To be yourself sometimes. To remember you were a girl, woman, wife, friend, sister, etc. before you had kids. There is NO shame in time off, especially when it makes you a better wife, mom, friend, and even worker. I returned to work the next day refreshed, more focused and thinking clearer. I was more effective as an employee because I made time to rest.
I was a cooler mom in the afternoon, too when I picked up my kids. We were laughing and playing and just had more fun than if I'd worked another day and been run down, tired, snippy and lacked patience with them.
So try it. Take some time for yourself. I encourage a whole day off from work and kids... but if not, at least take an hour to go grocery shopping alone or to go running or meet a friend for coffee after the kids go to bed at night. It doesn't have to be long, but it's important, quality time alone is so important.
Lastly, you know what ended up happening? The world didn't end. My kids were not mad at me or put off because I had a nice day away from them. I didn't feel guilty or like a bad mother, because I KNOW I'm not a bad mom for making myself a stronger mom.
Moms have needs, too. We're so busy and focused on our kids' needs that we forget we have them, too... but like that airplane quote of putting on your own oxygen mask before helping your kids or others... we MUST take care of ourselves sometimes.
So, let go of the guilt already, and take some time for yourself. It's important. You know it is. So treat yourself the way you treat your children... be more nurturing, caring, loving, and supportive of what you need. It will make you that awesome mom you are striving to be already.
Love, a rested, relaxed and happy momma