Today I have a special guest-post to share with you from working mom Mirel Goldstein from goldsteintherapy.com. She’s here today to share with us how important it is for us moms to take care of ourselves in a guilt-free way. Think of this as permission for guilt-free mommy time!
Since I often write about how I feel mom-guilt when I cannot spend 100% of my time or energy on my children I was happy to get validation from a well-known therapist! Here’s what she has to say…
I used to think I’d have to wait for my kids to grow up before I could have fun and relax. “Stress management” seemed like a faraway dream. Who had time for relaxation when there was always some pressing need banging on the door? Besides, as a mother, by the time I would finish talking myself out of my guilt for taking time for myself, it wouldn’t feel like relaxation anyways.
As a working mother, it was even harder. I felt bad enough that I was spending all this time away from the kids and with my clients, and the idea of taking time for myself just seemed so wrong. I remember attending a retreat once and hearing a mother with a house full of kids tell us how she would take an hour long bath every single night! We all looked at her like she was crazy.
It made things even worse one day when my 7 year old son opened up my planner, found a day that was wide open and appointment-free, and scrawled his name in big letters across the entire page. I knew that somehow the therapist/mother dilemma was just a no-win…at least in terms of the guilt complex.
Until one day when I finally woke up and realized that I needed and deserved some time with myself too! Not only with my clients, and not only with my kids. And that if I would wait for a guilt-free time to finally let myself de-stress, I would be waiting for a very long time. And I mean, a VERY LONG TIME.
And so I learned to do the guilty relaxing thing. You know, where the whole time you’re relaxing, you’re feeling like you shouldn’t be.
At first I thought I was totally defeating the purpose. I mean, what is the point of de-stressing when you’re just creating new stress from the guilt that comes along with it??
Like the time when I was catching a nap on the couch and the kids mixed flour and water all over the kitchen floor. Was the doughy mess worth it? Still not sure.
But then there were the other times. Times like when I left the dishes in the sink, let the kids eat candy for dinner, and sat on the couch with one of those magazines full of pretty pictures of the kinds of meals I would have loved to eat but was never going to cook.
And as I started to get used to my own justifications, things like “it’s good for the kids’ creativity and independence” and “it’s exposure therapy for my perfectionism”, I realized that it was actually worth it. And that relaxing and de-stressing were good for me.
On a serious note, though, finding ways to de-stress is really important for parents. It’s good self-care that allows us to avoid burnout, enjoy our kids, manage our emotions, and decrease reactivity. It’s also good modelling for our children, especially for when they become parents themselves.
De-stressing doesn’t have to take a lot of time, money, or energy. It could be something as simple as watching a funny 5 minute clip on youtube, reading a magazine, savoring a nice piece of chocolate, lathering your hands with nice smelling hand cream, or locking yourself in the bathroom and running your hands in the water while you notice the sensation and the sound of the running water.
What are your favorite ways to de-stress? Those are some of mine and I’d love to hear your ideas as well!
Mirel Goldstein is a psychotherapist, mother, blogger, fiction writer, and popular lecturer from New Jersey. Her blog can be accessed at goldsteintherapy.com
Until next time,