Being a mom and having time to yourself each day are not two experiences that generally go hand in hand. From the very second you are thrown into the wild ride that is motherhood, your needs often (okay, pretty much always) come second to those of your children. But that’s what you sign up for when you become a mom, right? Giving up your own wants and needs in order to be always present and engaged with your children? You get so used to this mindset that the second you have the ability to do something for yourself, you all of a sudden develop a serious case of mom guilt.
Of course there is a huge lifestyle shift involved with motherhood.
Being a parent wrecks havoc on your schedule and it can feel overwhelming at times. Your daily plans are no longer just yours. You have your children’s schedules to add into the mix, and in the down times, you’re often forced to choose between spending time with your kids or getting out of your house on a solo mission. It’s not always an easy choice, especially when mom guilt sneaks in.
When I first became a mom I had one goal and one goal only.
I was going to be a great mom. That’s it.
The problem was, I thought that in order to be a great mom, I needed to always put my daughter first. So that’s what I did. I spent every waking second tending to my daughter. Me time? Ha! If I wasn’t playing with her or tending to her every need, I was cleaning up after her, cleaning my house, or planning activities for her to do. Yes, I was a very attentive mother, but I was also losing my mind.
When my daughter turned 7 months old I was dealing with the tail end of postpartum depression and anxiety. For 7 months I was always, and I mean ALWAYS, in full-time mom mode. I was scared that if I went off to do my own thing or if I was away from her for too long, she would think that I had abandoned her. Trying to unravel the cognitive dissonance of being a “good mom” and the mom guilt that came from spending time on myself was very confusing.
Then I realized that being a good mom and spending time on and for myself were one and the same.
I started committing 30 minutes each day to going on a walk. Those 30 minutes turned into 45 minutes of cardio. Over time, it turned into one hour of working out and moving my body. And you know what happened? I became a great mom. The mix of physical activity and having an hour of my day spent by myself was the key to putting an end to my postpartum depression and anxiety. My weight dropped down to my pre-pregnancy weight and I started feeling confident again. I was able to keep up with my active one year old and had all the energy in the world to go out and do fun activities with her. I became myself again.
It didn’t stop there.
I now have a two-and-a-half year old who I spend an extra hour away from each day so I can spend time with my own thoughts, moving my body and working on myself. Zero mom guilt. I have vacationed with my husband while my daughter stayed at home with her grandparents, which has allowed our relationship to grow stronger. Zero mom guilt. I have re-prioritized my friendships, spending time each week catching up, grabbing coffee or going to local shows. And that mom guilt? Still not there.
Now don’t get me wrong. My life still 100% revolves around my daughter. She’s my world and she definitely knows it.
The only thing that has changed is my mom guilt mindset.
By spending time doing things that bring me joy and mental clarity, I am more present and engaged when I’m with her. As I keep prioritizing fitness and wellness into my life, I am showing her that I am strong and I am instilling in her the importance of health. By sacrificing some time with her in order to have kid-free time with my husband, we are strengthening our relationship so we’re able to show her how much her parents love each other.
There are only so many hours in the day and it can be hard to choose how to spend them. It can be challenging to overcome mom guilt in order to choose yourself for even 30 minutes. But think of it this way; when you choose yourself, you are also choosing your child.
I challenge you to give yourself some time today to do something for yourself and see how positively it impacts your day.
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