Right around 3:00PM you can usually find me counting down the hours to bedtime when I’m (somewhat) released from my mommy responsibilities.
All I want is to (gently) toss Mason into bed, read ONE book, sing ONE song, turn out the lights, and run off to do whatever doesn’t make me feel like a slave to my wee, yet adorable, dictator. 💙
This is usually right around the time when the hubs walks in the door and, ironically, instead of dropping everything and running away I’m filled with feelings of guilt. I can’t ask for a break because I now need to step it up and be a great wife!
And before you start shaking your fists, know that this isn’t the hubs talking – it’s me. No one puts this pressure on me but myself.
I consistently tell myself that I need to put my own needs aside, find my inner superhero, and carry on.
Because that’s what mom’s do. Right?
Fact is as parents – especially mamas, many of us put an unnecessary amount of pressure on ourselves to be the perfect parent every day.
As someone who battles with perfectionism in all areas of life, I know I’m my own worst critic and the biggest obstacle that separates me from the healthier, happier version of myself.
As a mom, (and if I’ve being honest even before I became a mom) I tend to think there’ll come a moment when the to do list is done, the house is clean, there’s food on the table, the little one is happy, and in that moment THEN I can take a break.
Of course that perfect moment in space and time seldom arrives on its own, because life has a funny way of continually filling up.
There’s an abundance of news articles discussing the need for people to take “mental health days” from work in order to decrease feelings of anxiety and stress, and continually put your best foot forward. To which I completely agree, as an employee (or employer) it’s important to take care of your mental health.
And the same goes for parents, in order to be a good mom or dad you need to take care of yourself.
Of course, this is always easier said than done. As a parent you’re always “on duty”. There’s no requesting paid time off or calling in sick.
But despite all that, I’ve come to find that saying yes to a break – giving yourself permission to rest and refuel – is essential to being a healthy, happy, and present parent.
Now you may be thinking, alright Ashlei – I hear ya, but how do I find the time to get away?
Well, I believe the art of taking a mental health break actually starts with remembering you can and should take one.
Acknowledge that your mental health as a mom matters and be aware of the signs that you’re in need of a break.
For me, when I’m starting to feel disconnected, worn down, and quick to snap at little things – I know it’s time for me to step away for a beat.
Simply put it comes down to being honest with yourself, ignoring the feelings of guilt and shame for not being able to “do it all”, and asking for help when you need it.
Know that sacrificing your entire being isn’t a requirement of mama hood.
Be the best parent you can be by taking time for yourself away from your kids.
I guarantee they’ll thank you in the end.
Stay strong, mama.