You finally get a few minutes alone, but you can't enjoy it. Something is nagging at you. It's the momguilt. Are the kids ok? Will they be mad at me because I'm spending time away from them? Is that babysitter really responsible enough? Are they missing me? Tons of thoughts can flash through your mind, and it's enough to prevent us from even taking rare breaks from momming to take care of ourselves. We also desperately want to figure out how to make sure we do get some time for ourselves. So here are three ways you can get past the momguilt and claim your me time.
1. Get the facts
Do I need to convince you that you need and deserve time for yourself? That you need to rest, restore, refuel, recharge? Let’s go back to the oxygen mask theory for a hot second. When you are on an airplane, they instruct you that in case of emergency you should put on your own oxygen mask first before helping anyone else. The logic is simple. If you can’t breathe and end up passing out, you will not be able to help anyone. This is the same for moms.
Let me throw some stats at you now. Moms on average get 17 minutes of alone time a day. That’s it. Plus, a Pew Research study from 2013 shows that women get 5 hours less alone time per week than men, and 3 hours less when children under 18 were in the home. So, while there may be some men out there that struggle with getting alone time, it is clear that as moms we are much further in the hole than our male counterparts. (If you want to save some time, check out my favorite time saving products for moms here.)
We all know we need to take care of ourselves, but we look at at it like it’s a luxury. Like a new car or a bigger house. It would be nice, but it’s not a necessity. I’m here to tell you, it is. If you do not prioritize self-care and continue to allow yourself to be worn down by always prioritizing the needs of others over you, you will:
Be in poorer health - We know this already, right? If you don’t take care of yourself you’re more likely to be out of shape, eat bad foods, not sleep well, and the list goes on. We want to spend as much time as possible with our kids now, but if we are not taking good care of ourselves then we may not be around when they are older. Don’t we want to be in good shape when our grandkids are here to spoil?
Be a worse mom - You know when you’re doing it. When your fuse is just so short that if your kid does one more thing you’re gonna flip? Then you inevitably end up yelling at them or your spouse? If you don’t take the time to get your mind right, you’re not good for anyone. Don’t you want to maximize the quality of the time you have with your kids? I’m sure they would prefer a well rested and happy mommy vs. a mombie, right? You know what a mombie is I’m sure, we’ve all experienced. If not, give it a google and peruse the multitude of memes.
Let’s be real too. We are modeling the behavior we want our children to adopt. Do we want to teach them that it is ok to put yourself last? To always be exhausted and never take the time to enjoy life? To always be holding on by a thread? No, of course not. We want them to learn to live life to it’s fullest, and that means sometimes you need to make your plate a little less full.
Loose your sense of self - This is a tough one. You’ve seen all the memes about #momlife. How it’s messy hair, leggings, coffee, and Target? Well it is totally true (at least for me). But it can cause some monotony in life. All of a sudden you look up and wonder, what happened to that spunky girl who kicked ass at pool and drank I.P.A.’s like they were water?
So perhaps it’s not pool and beer for you, but I’m sure many of your priorities and habits have changed since having kids. In many ways, that’s a great thing! As a mom, I shouldn’t be out playing pool and drinking beer every night. However, I do once in a while want to reconnect with the person that I was then. Yes, I am different now. More grown up. More responsible, and generally an all around better person. But there is still a piece of me that is a carefree and wild girl. Maybe instead of going out all the time I need to just pick one night of the week where my husband puts the baby to bed and I pour myself a glass of wine and listen to some classic rock on our back porch.
For each of us this is going to be different because we are all so unique. But what are a few things that you can do to reconnect with your pre-baby self? Choose them and prioritize. Here’s the truth. Don’t you want your kids to know the real you? I certainly do, and if I lose touch with her completely, they never will.
2. Feel your feelings
I will tell you that this is not easy and I spent a lot of time in therapy learning how to do it, but it is so important. How often do we push our feelings down because we don’t have the time or energy to deal with them? Yes self-care is partially about physically resting so we can tackle the job of mom, but the most important piece is really your emotional well being. If we don’t pay attention to the way we are feeling then we will never feel good.
The best way to do this is to work on remaining present in your life. What does that mean and how do you do it? I outlined that in a past blog post you can read here.
3. Haters gonna hate
Truth time. Some people are going to give you a hard time for prioritizing yourself. Deal with it. There’s this misconception that in order to be a good mom, your kids need to be your #1 priority every single second of your life, and if it’s not then you’re a terrible person. The truth is that in order to be a good mom, you need to prioritize yourself. You need to do your best to rest up to be 100%. The people who will judge you for taking care of yourself are people who just don’t understand that. So don’t let them get under your skin. Feel pity for them because in terms of parenting they either don’t have kids and don’t get it, or they just haven’t learned this fact yet and are miserable.
I know that this is supposed to be a list of three as per the title, but I'm going to throw in a bonus here. The best way to get over the momguilt is to connect with other awesome moms! In the Motherhood Community on Facebook, there are over 300 moms sharing and supporting each other. We need to connect and be each other's cheerleaders! We are here in the trenches together and there is no better resource than each other. Come and join us! Click here!
Need more ways to get over the momguilt? These are some of my favorite books below via my Amazon link! I have read or am currently reading all of these and love them