As a mom of two, I hear, see and feel the "mom guilt" all the time. It's the unfulfilling need to bake 50 cupcakes for the PTA bake-sale or to sign up for every volunteer opportunity that is asked for. It's using dry shampoo for the 3rd day so your kids go to school clean with freshly washed designer clothes as you where your "hole-y" yoga pants. Putting your kids first is great but have you ever felt the "mom guilt"? The one that comes before every normal human need you have? Have you ever really sat and thought about WHAT you feel guilty for?
What is "Mom Guilt"?
Its something we think we feel, but in reality, its more about our PERCEPTION of how OTHERS perceive us. It's not based on facts or any truths. Just a perceived reality. God chose us to be their mom, whether its biological children, step children, foster children, WHATEVER that scenario looks like. Our mom role doesn't need to look like any others. Why? They have different kids, different parenting situations, a different set of challenges that are unlike anyone else's. What matters is that your kids look to YOU as their example. They can learn shame or they can learn to be un-apologetically them. So now, what is it that you actually feel guilty for when it comes to self-care?
I can't tell you how often I hear "But I am taking time away from my kids" or "I can't just take a minute for myself". I've even said it myself a number of times. But the reality is we are setting a poor example for our kids, and depriving them of a thriving, healthy mom when we don't practice a little self-care.
Here are 5 steps to successful self-care that will help you become a better mom (& woman!)
1. Celebrate the small wins
You want to stick around right? It's kind of an oxymoron but we work ourselves into the ground "for our kids" but how long will we be there for them, functioning well, if we don't give ourselves a break! Celebrate the small wins! It's going to the doctor and the dentist for check ups, remembering to take your medication, or just to laugh for crying out loud! Be kind to yourself.
2. Quit beating a dead horse
We neglect ourselves and then feel guilty about neglecting ourselves, and vow to fix it only to break our own promises and beat ourselves up about neglecting ourselves. It's a viscous cycle. Stop SAYING you will do it and just make the time to do. Put it on that dang checklist of everything else you do and commit to crossing it off!
3. Connect Your Mind And Body
Let's remind each other that women's bodies can birth life which is pretty cool. BUT, it can also run marathons, conquer mountains and carry 29 Target bags in! When I started trying to de-stress by focusing on my running game, I not only gained endorphins but the mental times physical accomplishment explosion that happens when you do something you didn't think you could! You are capable of whatever you put your mind to!
In the famous words of Elle Woods "Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands". Exercise is not only good for you but for your relationship with your partner and even for your kids. You are kinder, happier and more confident when you are taking care of yourself.
4. Stop bailing on yourself
When we constantly sabotage ourselves by skipping out on our workouts, going for the calorie-fest when we brought a healthy lunch because they asked or simply just not allowing ourselves to tackle a personal task during our breaks, we limit our productivity. Take the few minutes you get and keep them and stay committed to yourself.
5. Treat it like a work requirement
For many of us in a professional work setting, we have to "play the part" which means self-care is essentially a work requirement. We treat work requirements as non-negotiable so we should schedule necessary personal appointments and keep them. I have my lunches blocked on my calendar so I can workout or tackle a personal task or two and no one can try and schedule a meeting. As a working mom, we balance everything in a totally different way than stay at home moms, but nonetheless moms can and should find small ways to take care of ourselves every now and then.
We will undoubtedly always struggle with "work-life balance" but we have to make self-care a habit that we include in our daily lives so we can give the best version of ourselves. There is nothing to feel guilty about when we are giving ourselves the time we need to revive ourselves. Just like cars need fuel and oil changes to run properly, we too have daily and monthly needs. Now go take a quick nap, walk or do something for you for a minute.