Not succumbing to mom guilt is a daily battle I face as soon as I wake up. While I'm a working mom and certainly don't feel an ounce of guilt contributing to our family's livelihood, it is the things that contribute to my own self care that I find difficult prioritizing...not because my partner isn't supportive and helpful, but because of my own GUILT using some of the limited time I have with my son to do something without him and for myself. What's even more crazy is that I had a colleague tell my I was an "irresponsible parent" going on vacation with our friends or traveling for work because I wasn't maximizing my time with child. This hurt, this hurt deep.
After much soul searching, and especially for me practicing what I'm constantly preaching to my fellow parents, self care makes me a better parent. A better partner. A better friend. A better employee. A better mentor. A better leader. I'm happier, more energetic, and the time I do get with my son is much richer because I'm engaged and I'm present.
I was finding myself physically there, but certainly not emotionally. I would feel guilty for not enjoying myself and just having fun with him. I couldn't understand what was wrong with me, I felt inner chaos.
I started slow but every day, I added in 60 minutes of "me" time, and I made sure it wasn't just when he was sleeping. Some days I'm too busy to get it but I know tomorrow will come and I'll make time for it. It is something I look forward to now and I feel so much more in control of my own life. I feel more like a role model for my son and less like a care giver, something really important to me in attempting to raise a kind and happy soul.
I read a post written by Deb Flashenberg, Founder and Director of Prenatal Yoga Center, this morning that reminded me that our children subconsciously learn how to take care of themselves physically and mentally through our actions, not through our words. We often tell our kids to do what we say, not what we do. So mamas, take some time to yourself each day, do an exercise class, have a coffee ALONE, have a wine with a friends, go out for a girls night, enjoy a manicure, learn to meditate etc. And lastly, ask for help. Ask for support.
"Sometimes, I feel twinges of guilt when I tell my husband or friends that I just came from a yoga class. In my mind, I feel judgment that this equates to 90 mints of time not focused on work or my kinds. Then I slap myself back in reality and realize it's only 90 minutes of personal time which is invaluable to me, no guilt or remorse should be experienced over self-care.
In yoga class, I have a the rare opportunity to remove myself from the constant daily responsibilities, takes, and nonstop thoughts churning my head. I turn inwards to myself, am present in my body, quiet in my mind, dive deep into the experience of my body unfolding into the array of asanas. I leave feeling grounded, refreshed, and more clearheaded than before.
I also remind myself that I want my children to see that while they are incredibly important to me, I need to take care of my own needs. When I put myself last, I feel depleted unfocused and resentful.
Every May, our society celebrates the Mother Figure. Brunch reservations are made, flowers are bought, cards signed, maybe a spa treatment is bestowed upon the Mother. But celebrating and honoring of the Mother Figure should go beyond a single day each year. Self-care should be a daily ritual.
Going forth, I vow to take pride in having 90 minutes completely to myself. I will not be ashamed of needing personal time. I hope all mothers remember that to take care of others, you first need to take care of yourself." -- Deb Flashenberg - Found and Director of Prenatal Yoga Center (via @prenatalyogacenter)