One mom recently discussed with me the emotional roller coaster that is leaving your baby behind for the first time. She wanted to know how to get some me time in without disrupting the routine.
Not for a big weekend away, just for a couple of hours. We’ve all been there.
Trusting another person to care for your precious baby, whether it’s a family member or a new babysitter, is difficult at first. In fact, it can be difficult for a while.
You can’t help but think about all of the “what ifs” as you sit there in the nail salon, feigning relaxation. It takes some getting used to.
By the second baby, most moms are ready to run out the door whenever possible. But with that first one, it’s hard to trust someone else to do the job that only you were meant to do.
That’s right, I’m referring to the anxiety-ridden absence of logic that hits all moms at some point:
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It happens when you try to treat yourself to a latte and a pedicure. It happens when you and your husband head out to dinner alone for the first time. It happens when you feel like you didn’t have your best parenting moment, day, or week.
It happens when you dare to buy something just for you for a change. And it happens when a new sibling arrives and you’re not quite sure if there really is enough of you to go around. There is, but that doesn’t stop the guilt from taking over.
SO HOW DO WE COPE WITH MOM GUILT?
Because the truth is that if we are tired, guilt-ridden, and stressed out, we really aren’t much good for our babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and beyond. We need to be able to cope with our emotions and take care of ourselves so that we can focus on caring for our children.
WE TALK TO OTHER MOMS
Some moms spend their days posting the most positive Facebook status updates ever with the hope of conveying to the world that they’ve got it down. They are lucky, blessed, grateful, etc.
It’s true that they are all of those things. And it’s always nice to share the positives with the world. But the truth is that parenting is tiring.
We do feel guilty when we feel like we’re not giving enough or are stealing a little too much personal time on the side (although in my world that just doesn’t seem possible).
Being honest with other moms opens up a discussion that will very possibly end up on a positive note. Maybe another mom has a different strategy that might work for you. Maybe you can help that mom in return. There’s no shame in seeking support during the hard times. Truthfully, it’s probably the best thing we can do.
WE TAKE BABY STEPS
There’s no rule that says that you have to hire a babysitter for six hours at a time and float around feeling guilty until 5 pm arrives. Get a babysitter for a couple of hours so that you can enjoy that latte piping hot, get pretty nails, and grocery shop alone.
Better yet, start by leaving your baby with daddy for a few hours at a time. He’s very capable, and he needs bonding time too. Then work your way up to leaving your precious cargo with a family member or a babysitter. Trust me, you will be a better mommy for it.
WE FOCUS ON OUR RELATIONSHIPS
If we are only ever thinking about how our choices affect our children, where does that leave our poor husbands/wives? Slipping out for a dinner while the baby sleeps is a very good thing.
Planning a weekly date night, whether at home or on the town, ensures that you have time to just be a couple again. Reconnect with your partner and watch your parenting skills improve.
WE READ, WRITE, ENJOY A GLASS OF WINE, WATCH TV, OR RENT MOVIES
We find an outlet that works so that we have time to unwind and turn off the guilt switch. It’s not that I’m advocating a sedentary lifestyle, but I am a firm believer that checking out for a couple of hours each night can really help you start fresh the next morning.
WE MAKE TIME FOR GIRLFRIENDS
A lunch, a dinner, a book group, or just a walk in the park can really help tired mommies reconnect to the world and come back positive and ready for anything. Don’t let your friendships go just because you’re covered in vomit and running on fumes. We all need each other to lift each other’s spirits from time to time. We all need to be there for each other.
WE LET IT GO
Mom guilt never ends. Just ask your own mom; she’ll tell you. We can’t always be perfect. We can’t predict all of the pitfalls and catch every fall. But we can do our best on any given day. And you know what? That’s all our children really need.
HOW DO YOU COPE WITH MOM GUILT?
Buy Katie’s book, the Happy Kid Handbook.
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Kelly @ City Mom
Sunday 22nd of May 2011
Oh yes Mom Guilt...a ruthless, useless emotion. I've always known that to be the best mom I can be I need to take some time out for me. I didn't hesitate to send her to my parents when possible. We did start small though. When she was first born we had my parents come to our house to be with her while my husband & I went upstairs to sleep.
The time I felt most guilty was when my husband & I went to Mexico this past winter without her for an entire week. We had a great time but I did spend a lot of it feeling sad, bad and guilty. When I got home I was so happy to see her and life quickly got back to normal.
I looked back on our trip and decided I spent too much of our time feeling bad. Easy to say now that's it's over but I'd like to think if we ever do it again that I would learn from my past experience.
Saturday 21st of May 2011
I don't know if I ever will,I feel like everything should be (as it is)about my daughter an things for me can wait.When I think about going to the store alone I think of how much she enjoys pushing her cart an helping shopping so I bring her along,or getting my nails done;we have a blast doing it together.At first working was kind of nice because it was my getaway time than I realized "Wow this goes by quick" way to quick so decided staying at home was best,till she starts school bc that will be here before I know it.Children aren't kids forever,I figure once she gets older I'll get back. to me.Because I know it'll be here before I know it & I'll miss these days.When I need my time I step out on the porch an sit on the swing,once in a while I do go tanning which is nice but other than that it's me an my babygirl an were the best of friends!!:)
Rebecca Jackson, GoodParentGoodChild
Friday 20th of May 2011
LOVE LOVE LOVE it Katie! We all neeed to support each other. Mom guilt is so strong. Thanks for writing this.
Thursday 19th of May 2011
I don't have kids, but hubby and I are trying to get prego. I am just glad that I can depend on a great network, and being able to read into other experiences helps me to prepare for the joys and struggles still to come.
Wednesday 18th of May 2011
Nope, the Mom guilt never goes away. I wish I had facebook and twitter when I had my first daughter 11 years ago - I think I would have handled things so much better. Being able to vent with other Moms who are going through the same thing you are is a huge lifesaver. I highly recommend it. When I went through PPD with my third daughter, I had nobody to talk to. For years, I wouldn't leave my kids with anybody but my husband and it was a huge drain on me. Believe me (as a more mature Mom) that the guilt you feel for an hour or two away from your kids is nothing compared to the aggravation, tiredness, annoyance, stress, etc. that you feel when you DON'T get time to yourself.
Thursday 19th of May 2011
I completely agree with you. Having people to connect with online can help with everything from guilt to parenting strategies to PPD. And having time alone makes every mom a better mother...we can't do it all!