While I definitely recognize how important it is for me to take the time to invest in myself and do things for me and only me, I have also come to realize that the hardest part of taking time away from my little ones is letting go of being in control of everything they are doing, watching, eating, etc. Because I’m a bit bossy and like things done a certain way, I tend to “do things myself so I know they are done right (a.k.a MY way.” Crazy, I know. My family is pretty used to my crazy, bossy ways. My husband jokes about how I’m the boss. Even my kindergarteners’ daycare teacher was joking about how he couldn’t tell her whether or not our kids would be at daycare for the upcoming P.A. Day without checking with “the boss” first. I don’t mind being the boss but it also gets pretty exhausting sometimes. I’m the one who manages the calendar, researches everything, registers for activities, keeps up with immunizations, dental exams, etc. It’s a bit overwhelming when you have 3 little ones with individual needs who wont even pee (or wear pants) before leaving the house without being told…a few times.
So, because of how overwhelming and stressful and exhausting being the “Boss”can be, I know I need to take my breaks. Having time away to invest in me is so critical in order for me to be the person, wife and mother that I want to be in this life. I only get one shot at this after all. So I may as well be my best me.
I have lots of ideas for my “me time.” Sometimes, I will get a hot beverage and sit and read a book, other times I will hike somewhere that I can’t go with kids, sometimes I will meet up with friends, other times, to be quite honest, I will sit in my car in a parking lot alone and just enjoy the QUIET. Motherhood sure redefines your concept of simple pleasures.”
Last night, I decided to go to the gym. It had been a challenging couple of days with my kids. My husband hasn’t been around as much as normal because of work and other affairs so I was due for some “me time.” Just like the kids were due for some “Daddy time” without “the Boss” around to ruin all the fun… by making snacks stay at the table, cleaning up happens, basic hygiene is enforced, you know… the usual “mean mom” horrors.
I had such a great time at the gym. On a day known as “Blue Monday” and with me being in a never ending battle with depression, I knew it was more important than ever to kick my own ass and change things up. I had already been to a bootcamp class earlier in the day but my mind was craving more. It’s quite interesting… when you are going through any sort of mental/emotional challenge, the craving for exercise comes from wanting to feel better mentally; not just physically. It makes complete sense, given the seratonin boost that exercise gives us.
I finished the first class but found myself torn because I wanted more. I felt I had enough energy to put into another workout but also felt guilty about not heading home to catch my kids on their way out of the bath tub so I could get them dressed in warm pajamas, polish their teeth after they brush them and snuggle them over some bedtime stories. I never leave in the evenings. To a fault. Like “cancel plans, resign from parent council” never leave on week nights because I feel guilty for not being there with my kids. But I’m breaking out of that habit and finally realizing that it’s healthy for them to see me investing in me, taking care of myself and being happy.” In the long run, I think my family would much prefer Mommy to not be around for one evening a week instead of Mommy being there every night but a little irritable, exhausted, stressed and burned out.
This is what I’m learning. Finally. You can’t pour from an empty cup. So, when I find my hypothetical cup getting a bit low, I know it’s time for me to hypothetically fill it. If I ignore that “low fuel” light on my cup, the outcome is never good. So, I vow to pay more attention to me and monitor my “fuel levels.” So, I texted my hubby to check in, see how everyone was doing and see if it was okay for me to stay for another class. He said that everything was fine and that I should stay.
I’m so glad that I did. That extra class melted away the rest of the stress I felt saddled with and left me in a very peaceful and content place.
I came home to see that our 2 year old was still awake. (No surprise!) However, he was also laying in his bed with Hubby with the overhead light on, watching an episode of Peppa Pig on Hubby’s phone. Screen time and lights on at bedtime. Ah! I took a deep breath, I let it go. I said I was having a shower before snuggling our sweet boy. Even in the shower, my heart was pounding and my brain was trying really hard to get me all worked up over these bedtime mistakes. Why do all the rules go out the window when I leave? STOP. Breathe. I got out of the shower, got dressed, and before tucking our 2 year old in, I noticed that his fitted sheet had popped off one of the top corners of his mattress and his sheet/blanket were all twisted under his comforter. And his Peppa, George and Elmo stuffed toys that I tuck in beside him were strewn across the floor. Well it’s no wonder he can’t sleep! Ah! STOP. It’s definitely empowering each time I overcome this impromptu bursts of unnecessary rage. This is how I know I’m progressing and improving. Early on in my battle with depression, I would have lost it and found myself screaming and crying, literally over a light being on and where a stuffed toy was “sleeping.” This time I didn’t. I just tucked in Peppa, George and Elmo in beside 2 year old Mr. O and we said goodnight to them together like we always do.
When I kissed my other two babies goodnight, I noticed that 4 year old Mr. C had a giant glass of milk beside his bed (My rule is no food/drink upstairs except for water and nothing except water after brushing teeth at bedtime.). Breathe. It’s okay. Then I went into 5 year old Miss M’s room and carefully untied the elastic from her sleeping head and then wiped what looked like sauce from dinner off of her cheek… clear indicators that they hadn’t had a bath before bed tonight. My insides wanted to explode. But I didn’t let them. Yes, it is incredibly irritating that these simple routines are broken when I’m not around but at the end of the day, our kids are happy, healthy and sleeping like little angels. It is what it is and life is too short to be anything but happy.
After a 2 hour workout, I refused to sabotage my awesome mindset by getting outrageously upset over screen time, lights on, stuffed toys not tucked in, milk in a bedroom and a skipped bath. So, I slipped into bed feeling more relaxed than normal and drifted off to a refreshingly deep sleep.
“The Boss” will be back on duty tomorrow. Refreshed. Ready to take on the world. Perhaps it’s okay that things aren’t exactly the same when Mommy isn’t around. Five and a half years into this parenting journey and I am only just realizing this… (I can literally see my Hubby smirking and sarcastically nodding as I type this.)
So, I choose to take time away in order to fill my cup. I know that things won’t run just like they do when I’m in charge and that’s okay. If I can get the opportunity to get out and rejuvenate myself then sure, Hubby can have the chance to be “Fun Dad! How does the expression go? “When the cat’s away the mice will play!” Ugh. Im the cat. Ha!
Today, and every day going forward I’m committed to LETTING GO of all the things that don’t actually matter. I’m hard on myself and hard on those around me as a result. This needs to change because I tend to make life a lot harder than it needs to be which isn’t good. I’m sure anyone can relate to this in some degree.
So let’s make a promise to ourselves to let go, breathe deeply and fill our cups however they need filling! Cheers! Xo