Balancing Mom and Me
Published: August 2, 2006
Time out for me. It never used to be a hard concept for me to grasp before I had children. I took it for granted that I could spend so much time on myself, completely guilt free and knowing - unequivocally - that I deserved it.
However, as a Stay at Home Mom now, with a three year old son and a six month old daughter, I started to believe that time out for me was something that I no longer deserved. After all, if I was giving myself time, then I was taking time away from my family. I viewed it as being a very selfish indulgence. I felt guilty when I thought about doing something just for myself.
So why didn’t I say anything? I really did want to express my frustration, but I didn’t want it to sound like I was complaining, or that I was ungrateful for being fortunate enough to be at home with my children. So instead of attempting to communicate my feelings, I tried to rationalize my situation. I would say things to myself like “It won’t be forever” or “I should just try to get used to it” or “Is it really that much of an imposition?” Didn’t I enjoy being a Stay at Home Mom?
The answer was yes. I did enjoy being at home with my children. I loved being the person to ensure everything was taken care of at home, and that my children were happy and well adjusted. But there was definitely something that I was missing in my life. And that was time for me.
As a Stay at Home Mom, it’s so hard to even imagine fitting in any time in for ourselves, especially when we have young children. My daily routine is one that begins at the crack of dawn and ends in the ebb of night.
A day in the life for me begins at six in the morning with my six month old daughter. She wakes up with a big smile on her face, looking for me to feed her, bathe her and be her entertainment for the next couple of hours. She naps around 8:00 am, which coincidentally, is when my son is just waking up. I will have to fix his breakfast, give him a bath, brush his teeth and hair and pick out his clothes. When he is ready to face the day, my daughter is just waking up from her nap to be fed yet again.
Also, unlike a person who works outside the home, I don’t receive a scheduled lunch break, or even a quick coffee break. In fact, I might not even get a chance to brush my own hair or teeth until the afternoon.
When the afternoon does finally arrive, we try to schedule in some play dates for my son, or go to a local park or beach. I will also try to squeeze in some errands, such as grocery shopping or picking up dry cleaning.
After our family time out, we will head back home so I can put in a load of laundry and figure out dinner. Once dinner is over in our household, I don’t begin to relax until my three year old son turns in, which is usually around 9:00 pm. Even then, I am still left with my daughter, who has her last feeding at 10:00 pm.
My “relaxing” time is spent cleaning the house from the day’s events, and folding laundry that couldn’t be attended to, during the day. My day ends around 11:00 pm, and by then I cannot even think straight, let alone try and figure out fitting time in for myself.
The reality is that there will always be more laundry to fold, and more dishes to clean. And although your children will always need clean clothes, clean dishes, and of course, you, they will also need a mom who takes care of herself. You cannot be a good role model, or even a fun person to be around if your whole life only revolves around the family and chores.
I had lost my perspective on having any sort of balance in my life. When a mother has a career, she must learn to balance her career with a family. But for the Stay at Home Mom, she needs to learn to balance her own sense of self with a family.
What I decided to do was discuss the issue with my husband, and together we found a block of time just for me. I wrote the time on a piece of paper and posted it on the fridge for my family to see. I wanted them to know exactly when I would be taking the time and for how long. But more than anything else, it acted as a daily reminder to me, that I am an important member of the family who deserves to have time to pursue my own interests apart from being a mom.
If you are a Stay at Home Mom like me, you need to realize that you aren’t a bad mom if you take time out for you, and place yourself in the priority line. When you spend time on yourself, it will help rejuvenate your spirit. It will help strengthen you when you are faced with adversity within your own life. Once you find those recharging moments, you will discover that you will feel more confident about yourself. The time on your own will help place you in a stronger emotional and physical framework, to deal with the challenges of family life.
Simple things like taking an art class, joining a women’s group, signing up for yoga, or just getting out of the house for a relaxing walk at the beach. Whatever you do – it just has to be for you and you alone.
If we have happier and healthier moms in the world, then we have healthier and happier children. And isn’t that the whole point of being a Stay at Home Mom in the first place?