I remember in my youth, pre-children days, my grandmother telling me, “Once you have children, you have them their whole lives.” I didn’t get it then because society makes you think you have them til they’re 18 then release them into the wild (I mean world).
I know many mothers that put their children first. For some, it’s all we know to do. For those mothers already putting theirselves first, kudos to you. Teach us your ways.
Last year, 2019, I kept trying to pour into my family from an empty cup. I was severely fatigued, unhealthy, and found myself very easily annoyed most days. What was worse was that a lot of my frustration was because I wasn’t allowing myself to do things I wanted and needed to do.
Anytime I find myself escaping I have awful mom guilt. The exception is when I escape with my husband for date night. Surely, I’m not the only mother with this experience.
I knew I had to make a change. I vowed to myself that I would leave mom guilt in 2019 and put myself first in 2020. Because, let’s face it, a lot of us need to do something different in this new decade.
Here are 5 things I’ve done to aid in putting me first:
- Use a babysitter to get things done even if I’m not going to work. This is a lifesaver. Sometimes it’s the best $20-$30 spent to sit at Starbucks and actually get some work done. As many parents now know, it’s incredibly hard to get work done at home when the kids are running around. Pre-Covid, I was already too familiar with the scenario. A sitter? Yes one of the best investments to secure some me time.
- Implement and be consistent with bedtime for the children. I talk with a lot of parents that say their children don’t have a bedtime per se. My question is always, “How do you stand it?” Without a bedtime, I find myself up with my children from the time they wake (early risers) to the time they go to bed. Generally after that I’m to exhausted to do anything I want for me or anything at all for that matter. A set bedtime keeps us all on track and tells me that my time is near. I try to take some time after they’re in bed to have some self care most nights.
- Communicate with my support system what I need. At some point I realized I had to stop being angry and that no one was reading my mind to what I needed. Imagine that. Once I clearly communicated with my spouse what I needed, finding me time was a little easier if we both were home. At anytime when I’m in need, I let my support know and usually am able to schedule a time for myself. Having a village, no matter how small, has been my saving grace.
- Stop saying yes to things I want to say no to. How many are guilty of doing things they don’t really want to? I use to have a bad habit of doing things that didn’t bring me joy too often. As I’ve gotten older, I’m learning to reject anything that doesn’t bring me peace. Saying no is a way to set a healthy boundary and put yourself first. Stop being guilty for saying no. Sometimes it’s necessary. We, as woman and mothers, have to learn that our “no”s do not need explanation. I, too, am guilty of starting to explain why. I have to stop myself and admit that I don’t owe anyone an explanation for my no.
- Gifting myself something even if it’s small. Us moms tend to buy our children far more than we ever buy ourselves. And we’re totally okay with that. A couple months ago I vowed to commit to at least a pedi every month in addition to my hair appointment. My time away at these two appointments are invaluable and worth every cent. For some it may be hair appointments, while others it may be a nice dress or purse. Whatever it is, if it makes you happy and won’t break the bank, get yourself a little something every once it a while. You deserve it.
Please know that there are circumstances that you have to put your children first. Just ensure that you’re finding time for yourself and allowing yourself decompression time. It’s too easy to let days go by before realizing that you haven’t taken time to do something fun. Get with your girlfriends and have a night out or a night in having some good laughs. Your mental health will thank you for it.
Remember, you’re doing the best that you can even on your worse days. I know there have been times where I’ve called my husband at work asking how soon he would be home afterwards. Parenting is hard but it’s always worth it. We need to let our children see us take time for ourselves so they know it’s okay to need alone time. After all, they mimic what they see.
Comment your thoughts below. Lets chat!