I often read articles encouraging moms to have the freedom to say ‘no.’ Many of us are spreading ourselves too thin. We feel the pressure to volunteer for everything, partake in as many of the kids’ activities as possible, and pack our weekends full of sports, parties and play-dates. I wholeheartedly agree that it’s okay to say no. In the same breath, I find myself searching for the encouragement to say ‘yes’ — for myself. The strength to care for me.
In the hustle of the day, getting everyone ready, work, school, food, etc, etc, taking time for yourself is easy to put last on the list. The yoga class I used to go to? That means waking up even earlier and taking time away from my family (when it’s already so limited). Plus, it ain’t cheap! Girls night out? That can’t happen on a whim anymore. It requires logistics, maybe even a babysitter, no to mention, energy. Mornings leisurely putting makeup on while I drink my coffee? A swipe of mascara and cold coffee gets us out the door faster. It may be part of the season of life, but it shouldn’t be.
I recently read the book Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink by Katrina Alcorn. It’s the story of one mom “having it all, failing miserably, and what comes after.” A successful business woman, Alcorn suffers from panic attacks. After having her second child the depression and anxiety became so debilitating that she took a full year off work to recover. Like so many of us, she was being spread too thin and not taking care of the most important person, herself.
“Although I couldn’t possibly have understood this at the time, it’s obvious to me now that my breakdown has forced me to be a better person. Most important, I’m a better advocate for myself now, because I understand my limits. It’s easier to set boundaries in my work, knowing that I don’t have any other choice. And by making room for myself, I’m a more attentive mother, a less cranky wife, a more thoughtful friend, and a more engaged worker. I like to think that by making room for myself, I’m also giving others permission to do the same.”
The book reiterates what we’ve already heard before, the need for self-care. Still, it can be difficult to overcome the ‘mom guilt’ of taking time for yourself, along with the planning and logistics to make it happen. But in order to have a balanced, happy home it is critical. Even if I have to wake up earlier, that yoga class make me feel good the rest of the day. The night out with the girls is food for the soul. Choosing to skip out on the morning walk because I need one quiet morning gives daddy and son a little one-on-one time. It might just be 15 minutes, but sometimes that is all we need to recharge.
So next time you have the chance to do something just for you, consider saying ‘YES.’ As Alcorn writes, taking care of ourselves makes us a better mother, wife, friend, and employee. You may have a million other things to do, but we owe it to ourselves (and everyone else), to drink the coffee while it’s still hot once in a while.