by Shelly Radic, Author of Momology
Pulling into the gas station, I started the pump, merrily grabbing squeegee and paper towels, singing as I washed the front windshield. The young station attendant appeared and commented on my cheery demeanor. Delighted to speak to another adult, I told him I was out by myself for an evening at the grocery store. From the clueless look on his face it was clear that he’d never spent a week with three sick preschoolers!
Then IT hit. Guilt! How could I be so happy about being away from my girls? What kind of mom likes going to the grocery store better than reading bedtime stories?
Then, IT number two crept into my brain. Disgust! What kind of woman sings merrily because she gets a night out to squeegee her windshield and do the grocery shopping?
Answer to both — did I mention a solid week spent with three sick preschoolers?
What is it with moms and guilt? We pour ourselves out caring for our families and then feel guilty about an evening, an hour, even 15 minutes caring for ourselves. Sometimes we let ourselves become so depleted that we’re disgusted with the woman looking back from the mirror when we brush our teeth.
The truth is moms who practice self-care are more likely to raise healthy, resilient children. Self-care not only allows moms to deal with their children in a more positive, proactive manner, it models a healthy approach to life. (Momology, p. 51) Self-care includes taking care of ourselves mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Every mom’s self-care looks a little different; it might include journaling, learning Spanish, taking a spiritual retreat and, yes, even playing once in a while.
Two challenges to practicing self-care are motivation and lack of child care. That’s where moms can help each other, trading childcare for gym visits or taking a college course, organizing a mom’s night out or a book club. Joining another mom, or group of moms, for self-care activities provides encouragement and accountability.
So, before you confound the gas station attendant, take some time to take care of yourself. Self-care is part of being a better mom who makes a better world.