I woke up the other day feeling a bit antsy and irritable. Since that is not typical Kristen character, I checked in with myself by asking: What’s missing? What do I need right now?
The answer was emphatically clear. I need more me time.
I knew immediately I had fallen into the momma guilt trap a-gain! Because guilt is the only reason I refrain from taking me time. Straight up, no chaser.
Six years post tsunami, two years rockin’ a new book, a successful coaching practice and multitudes of self-empowerment blogs and articles in my portfolio and I still fall prey to the guilt monster. ((sigh))
Here’s what the despicable beast sounds like:
You are a bad mother if you are not available for your family all of the time.
You cannot take care of yourself until everyone else is set.
Your children are going to need therapy at 30 if you are not available for them 24/7.
You chose to be a mother, therefore, you must give yourself up!
Yesterday I had a fabulous conversation with my dear friend, Sherry. I shared my guilty feelings about wanting to take time out for me. Things that expand my soul, grow my spirit, fill my life and make me feel good. Sherry understood far too well as she, too, experiences the same voices in her head and allows them to control her actions as well.
In fact, Sherry suffers from a chronic illness right now that oftentimes puts her to bed for days. She expressed to me how she often pushes past the needs of her body to alleviate guilt she would feel for taking care of herself. Which only then exacerbates her weakened state and categorically adds days to her down time.
Mommies, what are we doing to ourselves?!
Sherry and I agreed we both would have benefited from more quality attention in our youths and within our desire to do things “better”, we’ve overcompensated in a bad way.
Here is something I know for sure:
Over-compensating is not the way to give our children a better childhood experience.
Giving ourselves away at the expense of our own well-being and self-care never serves anyone. It runs us ragged while it also enables our children to be self-serving, demanding, unable to work out their own problems, unable to keep themselves occupied and/or keep them locked in a state of instant gratification.
Keep in mind they don’t have to act like Veruca Salt to be exhibiting these behaviors. They can be subtle and manipulative as well. Believe me, our kids’ got our number!
Disclaimer: This does not mean we have horrible children. They aren’t purposefully trying to drain the life out of us. They’ve been tended to from birth and unless we parent from a place of balance, they will continue to seek our tending because they won’t know any better.
You see, when we compromise our own needs and wants, we sacrifice our self-worth and we simply will not show up as the lightest and brightest version of ourselves.
It’s impossible because we are not tending to ourselves as a whole. It’s like washing, waxing and polishing only half of a filthy car. We only show up a fraction of our full potential.
The first sign I recognize when I’ve been putting myself last is irritability. Then I notice a deep internal pull to be doing something else. I feel empty, antsy, impatient, half-interested, detached, going through motions, pretending I’m listening but zoning out and the worst part is the feelings of resentment that sometimes come. The very thing(s) I’m trying to avoid, I actually create!
Which then begs the questions:
Is it really better to give all of me away?
Are my beloveds getting the best version of me when I’m not tending to myself?
Are my children really getting a better experience than I had?
When put like that, the answer becomes emphatically clear.
Being a momma doormat is neither serving to our children or to us. Period.
So let’s get off the problem and onto the solution!
What are the benefits of carving out ‘me time’?
We become more centered, engaged and relaxed. We feel less rushed or harried. We are better focused, happier, more patient, more present and definitely less resentful. Hands down, we are better versions of ourselves when stop putting everyone’s needs above our own and honor our own life, purpose and passions.
The key to doing away with ‘me time’ guilt is to understand how serving it is to both ourselves and our families.
I understand everyone’s situations are different. I’ve seen a lot in my 26 years working closely with the public and I was a single mother the majority of my two eldest children’s upbringing. I understand it’s not always easy to etch out the space we desperately need.
However, I want to encourage you to do your best to whittle out your ‘me time’ even if that only means taking a bath or reading alone for 20 minutes a night. It might be uncomfortable at first as you work through your limiting beliefs and guilt, but I implore you to keep at it! The benefits will far exceed the work to plan it.
To all the mommas out there who find yourself pinched up and beginning to begrudge your role as mother, I implore you to heed the words herein. Do you want to be an average momma or do you want to be an exemplary momma?
You cannot be your best self if you are not treating yourself as valuable.
Remember we are the greatest role models for our children. They observe and mimic all that we are. Do you want to model doormathood or sweet empowerment?
Trust in knowing your self-care will benefit your children as much as it will benefit you! You will be doing yourself and your family a tremendous service!
Here’s to guilt-free parenting! (If there is such a thing)
This post originally appeared on Sweet Empowerment With Kristen Brown.
Kristen’s book From Doormat to Sweet Empowerment shares her spiritual journey from attracting disrespectful and painful relationships to cultivating a life of worthiness, personal power and reciprocally loving relationships.