Lose your mommy buts

This post has been brewing in my head for a few days now and I finally have some time to get it onto the screen. Last week I read this post from Rachel Martin at Finding Joy. In it, she talks about why it is OK to take a mom break.

You run on empty. I run on empty. It's the nature of our society to push everything until the last drop - and then we are beyond worn out. We wait to get gas till the light warns us that the tank is empty, we save the last drops of milk, we scrape the peanut butter from the sides of the jar - and we do the same with our self. We push, and give, and push, and give, and we often ignore the warning lights telling us to refuel.

And then shortly after I posted her link on my Facebook page, I asked the following question.

"What are you biggest barriers/obstacles to actually taking a break and taking care of yourself? (tangible ones and maybe the not so tangible as well.)"

And although I shouldn't be surprised, the overwhelming theme in all of the responses was one of guilt. Mamas feeling guilty for taking time for themselves, for spending money on themselves, for asking someone else to watch their kids so they can go do something for themselves. There were other reasons as well, but this is what really stuck out for me and to be perfectly honest, made me a little bit angry!

Yes, angry.

Which is probably why it has taken me a few days to figure out how to write this. I don't want to come across all angry bitch telling you what to do, but be warned, that I do have some brutally honest things to say on this topic (after many years of being the guilty-feeling one myself).

First of all, go back up and read Rachel's full post if  you haven't all ready.

Go ahead. I'll wait.

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OK, so you get what she is saying right? Let your tank run on empty too long and you are just going to burn off those fumes and be DONE. Nothing left to give. Burned out. Finito. Kaput!

And then who is going to look after the kids? Who is going to breastfeed the baby? Who is going to clean the house? Who is going to get the other ones to school? Do the laundry? Have any kind of relationship with their partner? Have any kind of relationship with their kids for that matter? And one that doesn't involve resentment, or like Rachel says, that heavy feeling of drudgery?

Guilt is a self-inflicted feeling, Mamas. It is the feeling you get when you feel you have done something WRONG.

I am going to say that again.

GUILT is the feeling you get when you feel you have done something WRONG.

Can we, for a minute, examine exactly what is wrong in the situation where you feel guilty for looking after yourself?

NOTHING!

You are a human being and you have needs, just like your kids and anyone else you feel responsible for and to.

What you are not, is a super human. You need sleep. You need food. You need restoration. And for God's sake woman, you need a bloody haircut!

In all seriousness though, you need space (be it physical or mental) that is JUST FOR YOU.

I know that you are all agreeing with me 100% up to this point. I also know that you have a ridiculously LONG LIST of BUTS that you want to throw at me.

So, I thought I would address of few of the more common BUTS of mother guilt and give you some suggestions for how to remove them.

"But, I can't leave my baby because he is exclusively breastfed and he won't take a bottle from anyone."

Nurse the baby and get him nice and full. Give the baby to daddy (or grandma or auntie or babysitter), put on your big girl shoes and head out the door. Go to your favourite cafe and read a book for an hour. Go to the mall and just walk around and do some window or actual shopping for something JUST FOR YOU. Go for a walk. Go for a nap (with earplugs and explicit instructions to NOT OPEN THE DOOR FOR A FULL 60 MINUTES)! Set a timer. Be back in an hour. Do it after your partner gets home from work or on the weekend if you have to. Try not to worry, it is only an hour. And if that seems like too much, start smaller and build up to it.

You CAN do this. And really, you need to do this.

"But, I feel bad spending money on things for me (yoga, haircuts, massage) when that money could go towards something else for the family."

You do realize that you are a member of this family you speak of right?  That YOUR needs and yes, your wants, matter too? I know that maternity leave puts a crink in the finances for a lot of families and if you now have to budget a bit more carefully for these type of things, then by all means do that. Just don't erase them completely from your family budget. Make time for you and set aside the funds that you need to accomplish all that you want to do with that time as well.

And then STOP the guilt. Get that fabulous new cut and color and get to that class that you want to take. Try not to look at these necessities as things that you merely want to do, they are things that you NEED to do. For your peace of mind and to feel good about yourself. Never underestimate the power of a good haircut/massage/pedicure/run/ "insert your THING here", Mamas! Never.

"But, I don't have any childcare."

This is a biggie folks and one I am no stranger to as well. Leaving your kids with someone else is a very difficult thing to do. Finding the 'right' person can be very challenging, especially if you do not have family that lives close by or is able to help out. But, you have to try. Go to the babysitter mixers that are put on by various mom groups in your city, check the local babysitter registries, check the boards at your local grocery store, find a neighbourhood teenager who had taken their babysitting course, ask your neighbours or other moms in your playgroups if they know of anyone or can share their contacts.

And then give it a trial run. I always bring a new sitter over at a time when I will be home to let them get acquainted with my kids and our environment (and for me to see how they interact with my kids too). I know it will be tough, but once you do find someone, you have to bite the bullet and leave the house. Start out small, make it just an hour to get some errands done or to go to a class or again go to bed with those earplugs and instructions. You have to recognize that not everything is going to be done exactly as you would do it and that THIS IS OK.

And for any of you who say you can't leave your husband with the kids because he is afraid, or can't do it alone, or whatever... All I have to say to this is TOUGH PATOOTIES! This is what he signed up for and he has got to figure this shit out and yes, sometimes by himself. Show him how that baby carrier you bought him works, where the diapers are, the detailed instructions for how to prepare a bottle of breastmilk or formula and walk out the door. He has your number if he really needs you for anything.

..........

Mamas, taking time for you is not only important for your well-being and peace of mind, it is good for your kids too. You are their primary example in this world. If you never take care of yourself, how are these little people ever going to learn to do so for themselves? They need to know that you have needs to and that you too are "listening to your body" just like you tell them to listen to their's when they are tired, hungry, need to use the bathroom or just plain DONE.

My kids know how much better I feel after I go to my yoga class and they always tell me to have a good time as I walk out the door. My husband and I have regular date nights and we now make it a priority in our family schedule (this was not something we always did, but we are learning). The kids are starting to see the value in the time we spend together and have started requesting their own one-on-one "dates" with us as well.

Furthermore, kids need to know how to adapt and adjust to different situations and different people. It is a life skill and one that can not be taught in a bubble. So find that babysitter or get your crazy younger brother to come over and babysit for you and get out of the house and let them all figure a few things out by themselves. Uncle Bubbles and the babysitter from down the block are not going to read stories the same way that you do or play games the way you do and in the end, this really is a good thing.

So Mamas...

No more buts.

Take a break. Refuel. Recharge and replenish your mind, your body and your soul. Maybe you won't be able to do it all in one day, but please make it a priority and add your needs and wants to your To-Do lists and schedules and family budgets!

Do it for you, do it for your kids, and please mamas...

PLEASE.

Kick that damn guilt to the bloody curb already.

It has no business keeping you from a fabulous new haircut or that pair of leather boots or that invincible feeling you get after a really good workout!

{This is my "I just finished doing 90 minutes of Bikram yoga, don't mess with me, I am in the ZONE" face!}

Go find YOUR zone.

Love,

Natasha~