Self care is described as any activity you do that takes care of your emotional, mental and physical well-being. Practicing self-care is an integral part of living a healthy, balanced life.
So why, as a mom, do I feel so guilty when I take time for myself?
Ever since I can remember I have been prone to feeling guilt. I am pretty sure it dates back to my parent’s divorce. You know, that feeling kids get when their parents fight? As a child I felt like whenever my parents fought, or their subsequent divorce, it was my fault. I know now that it wasn’t, but that is such a normal feeling for children of divorce.
Nowadays, if someone around me is upset, even though it has nothing to do with me, I feel guilty. If my boss calls I wonder what I have done wrong.
So it is only natural that I feel overwhelming mom guilt when I take time for myself.
Since this school year was disrupted by COVID-19, my five year old daughter Zoe’s preschool decided to open its doors for July and August and as a family we decided to send her for the month of July even though I am on vacation. There are many reasons we have decided to send her:
Zoe is Deaf and relies on her preschool to provide her with a language rich environment, at school she gets access to Deaf mentors, Deaf peers, and lessons that will prepare her to start kindergarten in June. She also has access to her Speech Language Pathologist who works with her on expressive and receptive English language skills. Zoe loves her preschool and the time she spends with her friends, and I love that she gets to learn and improve both her English and American Sign Language (ASL). So why do I feel so guilty?
Having Zoe occupied for a few hours a day, in an enriching environment, gives me time to work on myself. I can read, relax, clean (ya right!) and exercise. So far this summer I have really been working on myself and focusing on my health. I have made a conscious effort to practice self-care daily by exercising and eating healthy balanced meals. With Zoe at preschool I am able to do this without interruption, or rushing because she needs something. I am able to take my time between 9am and 2pm Monday to Friday to focus on just me. This time for me to practice self-care is so important but there is a ton of mom-guilt that goes along with it. I mean, what do people think of me since I can care for her but I am choosing to send her to preschool? Shouldn’t I be providing her with fun educational experiences? Isn’t summer time for our family to explore and adventure together?
At first the thought of her being in school while I am home was difficult and I was filled with overwhelming guilt. The morning drop offs were tough. She didn’t want to go, and I knew she didn’t have to, that she could stay with me which made it even tougher. But as the first week went by, things got easier. Zoe started looking forward to seeing her friends again and I got settled into my new routine. Seeing her happy and excited helped relieve some of the guilt. It was also important for me to remember why we both need preschool. Not only does she gain so much from attending: language, friends, education, but I get time for me. The guilt doesn’t just disappear though. Daily I have to remind myself that what we are doing is best for us. We both benefit from the time away from each other, and when we come back together we are stronger and able to enjoy each other’s company.