Becoming a mother is one of the most exciting and rewarding moments in a woman’s life. It can also be exhausting and leave you wanting to run away without stopping to even pack a bag.
There will be many crazy thoughts that run through your mind during your days of motherhood, and the desire for a break can often leave you feeling guilty. You start to feel like you are failing in your responsibilities, like you are a bad mum.
That could not be farther from the truth. We all need to take time for ourselves as mothers, but how do we do that without feeling like a bad mum and a failure?
Here are some tips to help you do just that.
1. Your Little One Can Entertain Themselves for a Bit
One big mistake many mothers make is thinking they need to entertain their children 24/7. And when they take a few minutes for themselves and leave their children to play alone, they end up feeling guilty, like they’ve failed in their motherly responsibilities.
There is no need to place this heavy and ridiculous burden on yourself. Your child – no matter how old they are – is capable of entertaining themselves for a bit so you can take a break or take care of something else. In fact, it’s good for them!
Babies and toddlers can be left for a few minutes on a play mat or in a play pen with age appropriate toys (while within your eyesight). Older children can take some time to play in the garden while you relax on the porch with a cup of tea and a good book.
The important thing is not to rely on TV to entertain them just so you can get a few minutes to yourself. Instead, give them toys that inspire imagination and/or problem solving, like blocks, Legos, and cookware. Toddlers and older children can also colour or play make believe.
2. Your Child’s World Shouldn’t Revolve Around You
You also shouldn’t feel like you are the only one who can take care of your child. Your world shouldn’t revolve around them and their world shouldn’t revolve around you.
Instead, allow (and ask for) others to help you out every once in a while. This may be your partner, a trusted friend, or another family member who may just be itching to get some time with the little one.
This not only gives you a much-needed break but also gives others the opportunity to create bonds with the baby. There is no need for you to feel guilty as your child is still being cared for, and the time away from you allows them to adapt to being cared for by others.
3. You were a Person before Kids
Once a baby comes into your world, it is easy to wrap everything up in them, including your identity. It is very easy to lose yourself in a sea of nappy changes, late night feeding sessions, and multiple renditions of The Wheels on the Bus.
You may need to remind yourself of the person you were before you had children because she is a person you shouldn’t lose. You are your own person; your identity should not be found in your children, no matter how much you love them.
It is perfectly acceptable to enjoy your own things, indulging yourself in hobbies or meeting up with friends for a kids-free coffee date or brunch. Don’t forget who you are outside of your children.
4. Ask Yourself Important Questions
Since there are times you will feel like a bad mum no matter how hard you try, it is important to ask yourself some important questions in order to keep yourself in check.
“Do I care about our well-being?” You obviously care if your children eat, drink, sleep, socialise, and maintain their health. There’s no reason to feel like you are neglecting them.
“Did we laugh today?” It is so easy to get caught up in the not-so-great moments of the day, so sometimes you need to take a step back and focus on the good moments, because every day has them.
“Why do I feel like I’m doing a bad job?” If you seriously ask this question and think about the answer, chances are there is nothing logical that comes to mind that would cause you to feel like you are failing as a mum.
5. You are Human
If those questions aren’t enough to have you accept that you’re not a bad mum, you simply need to accept the fact that you’re human. You aren’t perfect and you shouldn’t expect to be.
Mistakes will be made by you (and your children, which will cause you to react in ways you may not want). Rather than beating yourself up over them, you can use them as teaching moments in order to show how apologies and forgiveness work. Then you can show what it’s like to try better next time.
6. Start Small
When you are ready to take some time for yourself, you may want to start small. If you find that you easily beat yourself up over little things, it may be best to start with small outings.
Leave your child with someone you trust and run an errand by yourself. Or simply grab a cup of coffee to go from your favourite coffee shop. It doesn’t have to be a full day or an overnight break the first time.
7. Don’t Feel Guilty if You don’t Miss Them
Okay, so even a night away can have you missing your kids. But you shouldn’t feel guilty if you don’t have that achy longing to get back to your chaotic (yet blessed) life.
It’s nice to get away for a time to refresh yourself, whether it’s just a few hours or a day (or a few). It’s nice to come home when the time comes, but you shouldn’t feel guilty if you don’t think about your kids every moment you are away. That’s just not healthy.
You are your own person. You can enjoy time away from your kids as well as enjoy your life as a mum.
Hi, my name is Schianne, wife to my high school sweetheart and mother of a beautiful and clever little girl. I’ve always had a passion for all things writing and literature, and motherhood has really allowed me to bring that passion to life. Experiencing how wonderfully challenging pregnancy and motherhood can be has made me want to share my story and experiences with other mothers to help them realize two very important things: you are not alone and you are stronger than you think