It’s Monday morning and I (for the most part) enjoyed a fun weekend with my cousin who flew in for the weekend to spend time with me and the boys. I am exhausted. The most exhaustion I’ve felt in some time. In addition to the usual entertaining, the regular routines, plus the randomness and irregularities of two little ones in the house…I had a not feeling so great husband (who was also on call) and a two year old who became really – I mean very – sick half way into the weekend.
And I guess I’m posting mainly to express how I felt in the few minutes before my head crashed onto the fluffy pillow on my bed – the one that had been calling my name since I left its side at 5:55 Sunday morning.
I feel guilt – all the time. And I know I’m not alone. I just need to put it out into the universe right now, because it may make me feel better…and maybe some of you too.
What exactly make us feels all this guilt all the time? Not being hundred percent “there” for anything? For me, it started with missing work to indulge in some fun. I missed almost two whole days and of course it’s two whole days before a major project deadline. My manager told me to not worry, to enjoy myself – but I felt guilty. Because if I’m not with my kids at home or somewhere related to them -it’s safe to say, I am at work.
Then that was compounded by the guilt that surrounded sending my older son to school last week when I knew he wasn’t feeling his best. He kept saying “boo boo” but never pointed to where it hurt. And there was no fever. He stopped eating, then stopped drinking…first at school then at home. Yet, I found myself taking him there just to nap since he naps better at school – a solid three hours. But by Friday night, he had a fever of 104.6, kept waking every ten minutes, was so weak, dehydrated and was just not himself at all. Turns out he had a severe ear infection in one ear.
I kept thinking – how could I put anything else above my child’s needs. I have to admit, my guilt from this is still gnawing away at my heart. That maybe this could have all been prevented if I just had kept him home. That guilt. That ferocious guilt. How I could have possibly let myself have fun when my kid and my husband were feeling terrible and when I know my husband deserves, needs time away from all this even more than me.
And then there was this other layer of guilt for not being 100% “there” for my cousin who made the trip to spend exclusive time with us. I was constantly on the phone or texting – checking up on the boys. She of course understood. But I found myself apologizing over and over again – all the way to the airport. For not giving her the weekend that I thought it should have – could have been. And not just for her but for all of us, including me. But then, there’s guilt I feel for that…and well, it comes back full circle – the guilt for taking the time off in the first place.
I guess my point in writing this is that although I may have done things differently I know one thing, stop having guilt over your choice to do something for yourself. Let go of the guilt. Admittedly, I’m still working on this. Like I mentioned earlier, I’m struggling a little from feeling like I had a big role in how sick my little guy ended up getting. And for the record, no one made me feel that way…not my husband, not my work, not my kids. Just me…just my mommy brain. But I’ve recognized that it’s important to work through that guilt and learn ways to curb it from its onset. After all, all of us mommas (and daddies) deserve guilt-free “me time”. It makes us better employees, better friends, better spouses, better parents, better people. And in the end, isn’t that what it’s all about?
Here’s 4 ways how.
1. Communicate. Make sure you and your partner communicate about the “me time” you need, how you’re going to make it work with everyone’s schedules and that he gets his fair share as well. If you’re both in sync and have a plan of how it’s all going to do down, then things will go much more smoothly and you’ll both be happier not only for getting your own time away but also for how easy it was to get there.
2. Simplify socially.“Me time” sometimes means saying no to other social obligations. I don’t know about you other moms, but I feel like our social calendar is always full. What I’ve learned is sometimes you have to learn to say no in order to get what you need. Don’t over schedule yourself or your children. Simplify life. By doing so, you’ll have less guilt when you’re away doing something you actually want to do.
3. Schedule. I know it’s hard not to do some laundry or the bottles while the kids are napping or after dinner and they are in bed for the night. But every now and then let that stuff go, take that hour or more to catch up on something that’s your passion. Get it on a schedule… talk to each other and calendar who gets to have their time during which weeknight. Whether it’s working on a painting in the garage, getting some gym time in or even catching up on mindless TV while enjoying a sweet treat – in bed!
4. Don’t look back. When you decide to take the time off – then let it be. Don’t obsess over the fact that you are and what you’re leaving behind to do it. You’ve made the choice, now enjoy. Tell yourself you deserve this reward.