The Guilt of Self-Care
The guilt of taking a few hours for self-care washes over me every time the thought of getting my nails done crosses my mind. The idea of not hearing "Mom, Mommy, or Hey Mom!" every 20 seconds excites me. But then I think about the time I'm not with my daughter, or not at home doing one more load of laundry and guilt flushes over me.
But why? Aren't moms allowed to take time for themselves to rejuvenate?
A Dose of Reality
My swift kick of reality set in when I found myself hiding in the bathroom, eating a cheese stick, for just a few minutes of quiet sanity. I looked down at my nails, which are chipping with cheap paint because I haven't gotten a good manicure in 8 months. I have never had a relaxing spa day where I can sit in a fluffy sipping a glass of bubbly. And my hair is desperate need of help, but I never get the salon without the Mini Me in tow.
I never thought I would be a mom who hid to eat snacks or would lock the bathroom door so I could regroup and recenter myself. But apparently every mom has their breaking point. And the terrible-twos are mine.
The biggest blessing in our lives is our daughter, with my ability to work from home as a close second. And I'm grateful that I don't have to send her to daycare. But then I see the moms who don't have bags under their eyes, or have afternoons for spa days and girl's days. I have to wonder how they do it...
Serious Mom Guilt
I find myself burning both ends of the candle just to get my work done. Working from home isn't as easy as I thought it would be. Or as easy as it's made out to be. And it won't be any easier once 2 kids are in the picture.
Working from home is easy when you don't have kids. Relax with endless coffee, listen to some calming music, and work at your own pace. Even when the child is under 1 it's easy - work during nap time. That all changes once the kid becomes more mobile.
Working from home with kids is the absolute opposite: Wake up early before the kids to cross a few things off your list, run around to make breakfast real quick when they wake up, give them a bath during a conference call, heat up the same cup of coffee 3 times, cram in some work during an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse... you get the point.
And then the mom-guilt sets in.
I get stuck on a conference call that's longer than usual, and my heart sinks because it's time that I can't pay 100% attention to my daughter. Or I have to work on a time-sensitive project and that means I don't have the afternoon to play or color or engage with my daughter.
The Every-Mom Secret: I rely on the TV as a part-time babysitter... When I have a client call, I turn on a movie and it buys me at least 45 minutes of background silence where a kid isn't screaming and running around yelling. TV shows work when I need to take a shower and get ready for a video call.
A Wave of Relief
It's only when I get an afternoon of reprieve or an hour to go to Target alone that I understand that I shouldn't have guilt about wanting alone time once in a while. The laundry will get done. My daughter won't look back and say, "I remember that one time she went out..." Instead, she'll have amazing memories with family members who lovingly give me a break. She will be close with our family and friends who love her.
My brain gets a break. I don't hear whines and Disney Jr. songs in the background. I get to be a real adult and just have some peace and quiet. I can rejuvenate. And when I come home, I'm ready to be a mom again. I can focus on being a great mom, have guilt-free playtime, and balance it all without being stressed or overwhelmed.
Taking an afternoon for yourself isn't a bad thing. It's necessary for being a good mom. Getting a good night's rest can be all you need sometimes. Or just having time to get your nails done. A new hair style can work wonders. Don't feel guilty about leaving your little one home with dad or grandma (and don't obsessively check the nanny cams every 10 minutes). Know that your child is having a great time, enjoy your time off, and pay attention to yourself once in a while.
It'll do your whole family good. I promise.