Time for Yourself Is Not A Bad Thing
A few days ago, I asked my fellow mama Instagram followers what their biggest struggles are. The most common response? “Finding time for myself.” I get it mama, finding time for yourself with littles at home is nearly impossible.
Someone is always needing something, right? Someone needs a snack NOW, there’s a crisis at work you’re trying to solve, you have to clean poop off the walls (been there), or you’ve avoided the laundry sooooo long that it’s now probably socially unacceptable to put it off for one more day.
But I’m going to argue that time for yourself is important. Actually, I’ll go so far as to that time for yourself is vital. I know there are people who might roll their eyes at this, but I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it. How do you expect to care for the people around you when you are not taking care of yourself? How do you expect to show up as the best version of yourself when you’re barely keeping your head above water? In my opinion, you can’t. Sure, you can put on a brave face and convince those around you that “you’ve got this.” But what’s really going on inside?
I Was That Girl
I’ve totally been there. If you scroll back in my Instagram to when I was first postpartum, you’d think I was freaking crushing life. But I was struggling. I felt like I needed to show the world that I was strong and capable as a new mom, that I totally had it all under control. (I’d always been totally capable and in control of everything else in life, so why would motherhood be any different?) I’d see smiling babies and mamas on other people’s feeds, so I felt like I had to make mine look like that, too.
In the above picture, I did my hair and makeup in order to make this post and look like I was CRUSHING NEW MOM LIFE, YEAH! I guess there is a little authenticity with the breastmilk stain on my shirt….
In reality, I spent most of my time bouncing an inconsolable baby on an exercise ball singing “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” at the top of my lungs to try and drown out the crying. (You never saw that on my Insta Stories, I promise….) When Eric went back to work in September, I had a massive breakdown because I didn’t think I could physically or emotionally handle being alone with her all day. Never made a post about that.
Please notice the caption on this post!!! “It puts her to sleep like magic!” NOPE. IT DEFINITELY DID NOT. That was a total lie to make it look I had shit under control…
And the thing is, at this point, I was taking time for myself! I’d go get coffee, get my nails done, take baths and read, and I still felt this way. And, if I’m not intentional, it’s still so easy to fall into feeling this way… overwhelmed, like I’m drowning, like I’ve lost myself. So what gives?? Let’s talk about a few things!
1. Know You Are Worthy of Having Time to Yourself
First and foremost, I think you have to know you deserve time for yourself. You have to really believe you are worthy of it. You have to release the guilt you feel about taking that time. You can take all the coffee breaks, put on all the face masks, take all the bubble baths and you’re still going to feel shitty (Is it ok to swear a little? Cool.) afterwards if you’re feeling guilty and icky about it the whole time!!
Will someone need to take care of the kids while you go? Probably. Will those kiddos ask for you while you’re gone? Maybe. Will there be something that goes undone? Most likely. But I promise you, everyone is going to be more than ok while you’re doing something for you.
2. Change Your “Finding Time” Mindset
Have you ditched your guilt? Ok, great. Onto the next thing. You’re not going to “find” time. A glorious hour to yourself isn’t going to appear the way you might find five bucks laying on the ground. Girl, you are going to have to make the time. Where in your calendar can you schedule something for yourself? Is it by waking up a little earlier? During nap time? When the kids are at school? Can you ask your partner to be with the kids while you go out? Is there a family member to come over and watch the kids? Could you hire a sitter?
Put it in your calendar! It’s important appointment with yourself. You wouldn’t skip a doctor’s appointment for your kids. (At least intentionally, anyway.) You wouldn’t ditch a meeting for work. SO STOP BAILING ON YOURSELF. Put it in the calendar and treat it like it’s the most important meeting you’ll have all week.
3. Don’t Be a Martyr – Stop the Glorification of Busy
I can tell you right now, there are some people reading this who will insist with everything they have, “You don’t understand, I literally just don’t have any time.” News flash. Everyone is busy. Everyone has a full schedule. It’s become part of our culture, at least here in the U.S., to be in a constant state of doing. Ask someone how they are. “Oh my gosh, I’m so busy.” This. Makes. My. Skin. Crawl.
It is more than ok to take a break. It’s IMPORTANT to take a break. When you take time to rest and recharge, you actually have a clearer head and are more likely to have great, creative ideas. You’ll be more productive afterwards! You’ll be better able to care for your loved ones and show up as your most awesome self at work. You won’t be giving everyone around what’s left of you.
I am fully aware that there are people out there with plates much fuller than mine, and with situations that I will never be able to understand. I am NOT discounting or taking away from the fact that life is full, and very often hard.
The point I want to make is, it is more than ok to give ourselves grace and the permission to take a breather. When we’re walking through hard seasons, I think that is the MOST important time to do so. It’s when we are going to most need to summon all of our strength, courage and grit, and that’s not going to happen when we’re running on empty.
4. You Are More Than a Mom
This one was the kicker for me. This was the reason that I even while doing all the “self-care,” “me-time” things, I still felt like I could not pull myself out of the hole. When I first became a mom, I lost myself in that little girl. Being a mom is the best thing I’ve ever done. It’s what I’m most proud of. It gave me a new passion and purpose. I let that new purpose swallow me whole.
I felt that to be a great mom, everything I did had to be for her. I’ll work hard so I can teach her how. I’ll exercise and eat well so that I’m showing her how to care for herself. I’ll do everything just right, so she knows how much I love her!
There is nothing wrong with using your children as motivation to do awesome things. It’s amazing! And Lucy will always be one of my strongest motivators when it comes to going after my dreams. But do you know what else has to be my motivation? ME. Doing something simply because it makes ME happy. Knowing that I am so much more than a mom and that my desires and passions matter simply because they’re mine.
Someday, those kiddos are going to grow up. And yes, while we’re always going to need our mamas in certain ways, there will be a day when they’re not going to depend on us anymore. Who will we be then? If we keep hanging all of our worth on being “mom,” who do we become when that’s not our title role anymore? I believe with all my heart that part of the reason I was put on this earth was to the be the mama to Lucy Grace and to any other babies I am blessed with. But, I have so many other gifts, and so do you, and those need to be shared with the world.