Have you ever thought this? You’re a bit tired, feeling somewhat drained, and perhaps you have not paid as much attention to your own needs, but when faced with the choice to take time away from the family, from the kids, you feel guilty. Why is that? As moms, don’t we deserve some time to ourselves?
Many moms, at least those who regard their position as vitally important in the life of their child, feel the weight of their responsibility. Within their charge is the molding of the mind, the shaping of the character, of the children placed within their care.
They understand that what their children become is dependent, to a great degree, on how they are raised, their environment, the love and attention (or lack thereof) they receive, and the lessons taught them by those closest to them. They realize the depth of their influence on their children’s present and future life.
So when faced with the opportunity to take time out for themselves, many moms experience fear: fear that they will be seen as shirking their responsibility, fear that their children will retreat from all the lessons they have been taught, fear that their absence will create more responsibilities when they return, and some even experience the fear that things will go well and that they (the mom) will not be viewed as important as they once were.
Whatever the source, the feelings of guilt most often take root in fear. And living life in fear is not living at all. So if you’re ready to ditch the fear and discover how you can take time out for yourself (guilt-free!), then here are 5 steps you can take:
- Acknowledge the good you are doing in your children’s lives and stop there for a minute. We know we’re not perfect, so hold off on mentally listing all of the mistakes you’ve made. Instead, take a few minutes to think through the great things you are contributing to your children’s lives and be grateful about the good you have done.
- Assess areas where you can do better and make a plan. Now you can summarize the areas where you can do better. Notice the word “summarize”. No need to make a detailed list, but just categorize the areas in which you can improve. Maybe it’s incorporating more healthy foods in your kids’ diet. Maybe it’s being a little more decisive and consistent in your dealings with them. Or maybe it’s creating a schedule for their daily activities and sticking more closely to it. Once you have your categories, create a plan to bit-by-bit incorporate a new way of doing things into your life.
- Discuss your concerns with someone you trust. Seek wisdom from those who have been where you are. Fear thrives in secrecy. When you expose it (to the right source), it begins to diminish. Choose someone you trust and share your concerns. Work with them in implementing your new plan. Listen to their counsel and apply what seems right to you.
- Remember the things you love. What are those activities that bring you joy? What are those things that relax and rejuvenate you? Do you enjoy sewing, hiking, swimming or Zumba? Do you crave a massage or manicure? Does volunteering to help others revive you? Think through the things you love (even the things you used to do) and decide on the activity that brings the biggest smile to your face.
- Set a date. Now that you know what you want to do, schedule the day and time to do it. Start small if you have to. One hour or two to begin. Invite a friend to enjoy the time with you (and to keep you accountable for taking time out). When you return home refreshed, your family will be blessed by the change they see in you.
So have you ever experienced guilt in taking time out for yourself? How did you overcome it? If you haven’t experienced guilt, what has helped you?