For years, I believed that doing anything for myself was equal to me neglecting my children.
This is exactly what kept me from prioritizing my own needs. Anything for me felt selfish, especially if it took time or money “away” from them.
This is a common theme I hear from the moms I work with. And unfortunately, social media has made this feeling of not being enough easy to come by. We see our friends’ highlight reels every single day, we are exposed to viral articles shared on feeds that tell us all the ways we are raising our children wrong.
This guilt is toxic because it keeps us from taking care of ourselves.
I was there, burning myself into the ground day after day, and now my children who are older remember their early childhoods as mom being angry and tired all the time. Awesome.
To me back then, and I think to many women in this country, we think being a mom means sacrificing our human needs to tend to the children. We allow ourselves to become less than human and want for nothing.
I have had multiple clients admit to me that they make lunch for their kids and even THEIR SPOUSE every day but not for themselves. By the time they get around to meeting their own needs, they are already spent and exhausted…and it’s easy to say no to ourselves, but hard to say no to them. Because MOM GUILT.
And what ends up happening is we burn out, hiding in closets in the fetal position in tears (no? just me?) wondering how we are ever going to wake up and do this again tomorrow.
I don’t let Mom Guilt rule my life anymore. After having a shift in perspective after my fourth child was born I reframed the way I see things, and I wanted to offer this perspective for you too since getting rid of it will be the first step to help you feel much more human.
Here’s the thing. If given a choice, our kids probably wouldn’t do most of the things that are good for them. They wouldn’t choose to brush their teeth, bathe, go to the doctor, eat veggies, go to sleep at a decent hour. We are guiding them into these habits as knowledgeable, experienced adults who know better.
And we don’t feel guilt for making them do any of it.
So why are we allowing ourselves to feel so bad when we invest time and money into our own care, fulfillment, dreams, personal development, and health?
Not only are we assuring a happier, more energized caretaker for THEM, we’re showing them how to live THEIR best life as they grow up.
A happy, fulfilled parent IS WHAT IS BEST for them, even if they hate that we leave them for the day or take 30 minutes for ourselves.
So now, I don’t feel one ounce of guilt for sleeping in on Saturdays or leaving them with grandparents so I can have a night out, just like I don’t feel guilty telling them to brush their teeth.
What benefits me benefits the ones around me too.
When you feel the mom guilt begin to rise up, make sure you are being ultra-compassionate to yourself. Speak to yourself the same way a best friend would. The fact that you care means you’re a great mom! Remind yourself “I’m doing a good job.” And remember that perfection is not only not required, but completely impossible.
ACTION: Picture yourself feeling relaxed, cared for, and fulfilled. Feeling this way, how would you take care of your children? Your work? How would you interact with your partner? How would it benefit the people in your life? Write it down.
Tomorrow we’re going to talk about how to move forward with feeling more human now that we’ve alleviated some of the guilt that was holding us back, so don’t miss Day 2!
PS – DON’T TURN THIS INTO ANOTHER REASON TO FEEL GUILTY. So often when I talk about this subject, I hear back from moms that they now, ironically, feel guilty knowing that if they would just take care of themselves, their kids would be happier. Nooooooo, point missed completely.
Self-care is a mindset. If we don’t value ourselves and our needs enough, we’ll miss moments throughout the day where an opportunity might present itself. We’ll value answered emails over our own quiet time, or say no to the sitter when we really need a date night. If you can’t fit it in, you can’t! But if it’s only guilt that is stopping you, don’t allow that to rule your life.