I am currently sitting in bed, fighting off two things - a pretty bad cold, and the nagging guilt in the back of my mind for sitting in bed, instead of working, doing dishes, doing laundry, doing ANYTHING besides taking care of myself. And why? Because some social media post, book, blog or person said I should feel this way. That I should ALWAYS be on. I'm calling bullshit on that nonsense, and on mommy guilt as a whole.
It's been evolutionarily wired in women's heads to feel guilt about EVERYTHING, including feeling guilty! But why? Because were afraid. Fear drives a majority of our actions - like taking a mediocre job, thinking we're choosing the "safe" path in life. My own guilt is fueled by fear - fear of falling behind, fear of being judged, fear of being called out by my 5 year old who so eloquently said last week "My socks are STILL in the dryer?!" Thanks bud... But what if we said f*ck you fear, and did what we needed to do for ourselves, for our families, to feel less guilty, and instead feel...well...better? What if we allowed ourselves to relax, or go to work, or freelance, or lead a seminar, all without having some nagging form of guilt behind us?
Here are a few ways I've kicked mommy guilt in the butt in the past, and left that fear behind too:
1. Take a trip by yourself
This is one of the best ways to get away (like REALLY away) from everyone and everything, and put a timer on relaxation, indulgence and self care. I had the privilege of getting away this past weekend (to New Orleans for a wedding) and I can't tell you how glorious it felt to sleep in a giant bed by myself, wake up when my body wanted to, and eat what I wanted when I wanted. I had time to reflect on my life and the things I've done to get to where I am. Without these precious 48 hours alone, I would not have been able to unwind and decompress from months of stress. Granted, I ended up coming down with a cold, but mentally I feel more relaxed than I have in a while.
2. Celebrate Monday Morning
Hey working mama, it's ok to celebrate Monday morning, especially after a grueling weekend! Do not feel guilty about dropping your kids off at daycare, you are working hard to give them everything they have. Plus, celebrate the fact that you will get to eat, chat and pee in peace. Hey, celebrate the small stuff!
3. Drop your child off at daycare...and do NOTHING
Trust me, they won't die. Drop-in daycares are popping up all over the country, and are meant to provide a break for the overworked stay at home mom. But instead of dropping your kid off to go run errands or do chores, go home and lay down, or read, or do NOTHING. Giving yourself time is just as important as being there for your family.
4. Get off social media
Holy cow, I cannot emphasize this one enough. When I was first a SAHM, social media was my window to the outside world, and it ruined me. All I felt was guilt - guilt for not being perfect mommy from day 1, guilt for not working and contributing to the family income. All because I read other peoples views of the world and applied them to my life. Stop - breathe - close your eyes. You are living only one life - yours. Comparison breeds fear, and fear breeds guilt.
5. Write down your goals, and start working towards them
This was the biggest one for me - I am a goal oriented person, so when I formulate a goal for myself, I naturally start running towards it, and block out external "noise", like naysayers both internally and externally. I've personally found that by working towards something, whether it be losing weight, starting a new business, getting my resume updated, or just planning my son's 6th birthday (which I'm actively doing) I find less time to judge myself or hear others judging me. I just focus, put my head down and go.
Happiness has a trickle down effect - the happier you are, the happier those around you will be. The sadder/madder/crappiest-mood-of-your-life you are, the worse off those around you will be. So take the time to use one or all of these steps to kick mommy guilt in the ass. I want to hear from you too - how have you kicked mommy guilt out of your life?