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.
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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