Do you ever feel guilty about taking “me time”?
As busy moms, our lives are filled with pressures and lists of things we need to do, but it always seems like we never quite have enough time to take care of everything. Then, when we (finally) take a break and browse social media, it looks like everyone else is hand-decorating birthday cakes, growing prolific vegetable gardens, going out to glamorous parties, or having fun with friends.
It can be hard to keep up; and can even lead us to feel guilty. We feel guilty if we have some me time, yet somehow we also feel guilty if we don’t!
And ugh–Mom Guilt. Isn’t it the worst?! It weighs us down, nags us from the back of our minds, and takes away our ability to just enjoy the moment. Instead of taking care of ourselves and thinking “this is just what I needed,” we’re distracted by the thought of, “I should be doing X.”
So this year, for Mother’s Day (or your birthday, or ANY day YOU just want to be absolved of guilt and enjoy yourself), let’s resolve to celebrate, guilt-free!
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The Benefits of Enjoying Yourself
There are so many benefits to enjoying yourself. Obviously there’s the immediate benefit: you have fun and you get what you want in the moment. You feel happy. You relax and smile.
Longer-term, constant stress has really negative effects on our body, mind, and soul. When we feel stretched too thin (maybe finding ourselves getting emotional and crying over commercials, for example), it might be time to take a reset and practice a little self-care. When stress takes over, we aren’t operating at 100%. Our sleep, diet, and concentration are affected and we aren’t doing our best.
If you think it might be time to take a break and enjoy yourself, but you aren’t sure you can “afford” to make it a priority, consider all the benefits of enjoying yourself:
You’ll feel less stressed
By taking a break and allowing yourself a real Mother’s Day, you’ll feel less physically stressed. You’ll notice you have more energy and less exhaustion, plus, you might even boost your immune system, feel greater resolve, and experience better health in the long run.
You’ll be calmer and kinder
We’ve all heard the “kick the dog” story. (A man comes home after a terrible day at work, yells at his son, who pushes his sister, who ends up kicking the poor dog… who didn’t do anything!) It’s a terrible story (poor puppy!) but the point is, when we’re running on a short fuse, we end up taking it out on those we interact with. Maybe it’s the cashier at the grocery store who we snap at or our spouse who ends up being our emotional punching bag. Taking time to refresh and practice self-care will result in a kinder, calmer you.
You’ll be a better friend
Stressed out people aren’t always great friends. Now, most of us are lucky enough to have some friends who love us even when we’re not at our greatest. We’ve all got that girl we call when things are going awry and we’re ready to scream, but sometimes we have to turn the tables. If you find you’re isolating your pals because you never have time for them or when you do talk to them, it’s always a huge “venting session,” resetting will help you be a better friend.
You’ll be a better wife
Our partners often get us at our best and at our worst. When I’m stressed, I know my husband picks up the slack (and he’s already vying for Dad of the Year) and helps out tons. We’ve all experienced the pain of a spouse who’s unhappy or who’s going through a rough time, and of course, when that happens all we want is to help. When we’re stressed out, we’re distant and less affectionate. We’re irritable and tired. Your husband wants you to take care of yourself.
You’ll be a better mom and have more fun!
Just like your husband might feel the brunt of your stress, your kids definitely get it too. If you’ve been in “mean mom” mode (and we’ve all been there), it’s time to take a step back and reset. It’s not that you should feel guilty about being overwhelmed but look at it as getting back to the enjoyment of life. What do you like to do with your kids? When Mom’s happy, everyone’s happy!
You might even look younger
When we’re hunched over computers, running around frazzled and squinting and furrowing our brows over our smartphone, it’s not helping us look any younger. (I’m just being honest!) Stress takes its toll on our appearance: from dark under-eye circles to extra weight to yes, wrinkles. Plus, taking time out for ourselves gives us a chance to really look and feel our best, not for others, but for US. When we feel good about our looks, we have more confidence and better posture, and we even might knock a few years off our looks!
You’ll have fewer physical issues
If you’ve experienced GI issues, headaches, back or neck pain, those can all be symptoms of stress. Taking a day or two off to recoup and take care of yourself can help alleviate all those symptoms and just generally leave you feeling healthier and more energetic. In the longer term, you might even see effects like lower blood pressure, less weight gain, and other tale-tell signs of stress.
YOLO, right? You only live once, and no one ever looks back on their life and says, “I wish I’d worked more days, cleaned more toilets, or scrubbed floors more often.” Taking a day to really do what you want and enjoy yourself will build memories and help you feel more alive, alert and lighter.
What Do YOU Want?
So, if you’re convinced to make this Mother’s Day ALL about you, you might be wondering, “What now?” Sometimes we get so bogged down and used to being in a state of stress that we aren’t quite sure what to do with ourselves when we finally get to take a break.
Of course, life still has to happen. Even if you throw caution to the wind and spend a whole day doing nothing but what YOU want, there might still be something that comes up; but rather than stress about it, roll with it. Put off laundry and housekeeping. Have someone else warm-up dinner or eat sandwiches on paper plates (if cooking and doing dishes stresses you out). Resolve to spend a day doing what you really love.
Still having a hard time deciding? Well, here are a few questions to ask yourself:
What do you really enjoy?
Do you like painting? Do you enjoy long walks? Do you love getting your hair or nails done, going out with your friends or sipping tea and reading a book by yourself?
When you think about what you really enjoy, don’t worry about what you might be good at, what others like, or what’s productive. You might have two left feet, but if you love to dance, turn up the music and go for it! Your family might hate doing puzzles, but if you love them, then let them know they’ll need to entertain themselves for a while because you’re opening a puzzle.
What can you afford (in money, calories)?
If you have wanderlust and you’re dying to travel somewhere, but you know weekend tickets to a destination, a babysitter, plus a hotel would break the bank, figure out an alternative.
Can you go to a little town nearby and enjoy a day trip with your spouse while grandma sits or a neighbor trades you a day of babysitting? It might not be Bermuda, but would a day at the pool, a visit to a botanical garden, or a trip to the art museum scratch your itch to explore and take in beauty?
If you’re dieting and don’t want a day of binging to derail your progress, consider enjoying one decadent meal or dessert and making the absolute most of it. Take photos, savor it slowly, and make it an indulgence to really remember. Don’t feel guilty—just love it!
How can you find the time?
If you can’t take off an entire day (maybe you’re a mom with an infant or a demanding work schedule), consider blocking out an evening or two or a few hour-long chunks of time to really do what you want.
We often think we just don’t have the time to spend on ourselves, but if a friend were in need, our child was sick, or our spouse had something important going on, we would squeeze it in. We have to make the same time commitments for ourselves as well. Block it out on your schedule and tell your family so you’ll stay committed to it. Make it a priority.
What should you avoid?
Now, being that it’s YOUR time to do what YOU want, the only things you should really avoid are things that make you feel bad about yourself, stress you out, or feel like obligations. For some of us, that might mean turning off our phones, avoiding social media, or not turning on the news.
Avoid the things that don’t feel special, relaxing or rejuvenating. If your family loves going to ballgames, but you aren’t so into it, take a raincheck and go out with a friend instead. If you have familial obligations on Mother’s Day specifically, schedule your OWN Mother’s Day for a time when you can really indulge and enjoy the day just for you.
Throw Caution to the Wind with a Few Ideas
There are so many great things you could do on your special day (and we each have our own hobbies and things we enjoy). If you’re struggling to come up with some ideas to inspire, here are a few ideas you could enjoy as long as your state has lifted stay at home orders.
- Have a Spa day
- Host your own Read-a-thon
- Plan a staycation
- Find adventure
- Go outdoors
- Visit a museum
- Go to a concert
- See a play
- Go to the park and swing
- Enjoy a yoga class
- Play games
- Go for a long drive (optional: turn the radio up and SING)
- Check out a new restaurant or try a new food
- Plant flowers
- Visit water: a lake, river, ocean, pond or pool
- Play a musical instrument
- Visit a local coffee shop and do what you want
- Browse the bookstore
- Check out thrift stores
- Go watch your choice of movie on the big screen
- Take your pup to a dog park or brush a kitty
Whatever really makes you feel happy and refreshed and gives you a zest for life, take time this Mother’s Day to make it all about YOU. Do something new you really want to try, enlist a friend, or go it alone.
Make this a Mother’s Day to remember, guilt-free! You deserve it!!
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