It used to be that women stayed home, cleaned, cooked and took care of the kids and lunched with the neighbors and that was pretty much it. Of course, this came with the the side effect of that being the ONLY thing you could do, or maybe you could go get a “woman’s job” like cleaning houses, answering phones or taking care of someone else’s kids. (I once found an old newspaper in my grandparent’s steamer trunk with the want ads, it was very enlightening.)
Now, most women are expected to run a home, cook, clean, work a day job and take care of the kids. This leaves zero time for taking care of yourself ladies. Zero. I am grateful for the men that step up and help, that will pitch in with cleaning, laundry (thank you Mike Swint!) and sometimes we even get a girls night out. But, do you feel guilty for going out with the girls? Or even worse…. going somewhere by yourself. Heaven forbid that you go see a movie by yourself, or get a massage, or take a yoga class. Is this guilt self inflicted, a residual side effect of years of programming, or is it coming directly out of someones mouth? “I can’t believe you went and had a massage on a Tuesday!” or “When do you find the time to go to yoga?” Or worse “What gives you the right to take a break?” (no, really, that happens in some marriages) And here is the thing! It is not just men who are doing this to women… we are doing this to each other girls! I can not tell you how many times I have heard “must be nice to go to Athens and take a yoga class… I just don’t have the time for that.” How do you think that makes someone feel? I guess they feel resentful so it is their goal to make others feel bad (subconsciously or not) so they are not all alone in their misery.
So… my question is… when are we going to be “enough?”
What is “enough?”
When did it become a bad thing to make sure you stay healthy? Some women have to reach their breaking point before they take a break (which usually ends up being an unhealthy break.) Some of my friends feel like they have to earn the right to ask for a night off. It is like we are kids making sure we do our chores before our parents will let us go play.
The laundry will wait.
The toilets can be cleaned tomorrow.
Even after you die… your inbox will still be full.
It is OK (more than OK!) for you to take time for yourself.
I believe it is so very unhealthy for anybody to go weeks, months, years, with out taking a guilt free break. I also think it is unhealthy for our kids to see us running ourselves ragged and never resting. They are just tiny mirrors. Do you want your kid to never rest when they grow up? I am sure you do not want that for them. I don’t want it for my little girl. I work hard, keep my house respectable and cook dinner most nights. However, everybody in this house knows that there will be a night or two that I don’t cook. We can order in, eat leftovers, make sandwiches or go out. I am lucky to have a husband who is supportive and does not care if I take 30 minutes to do yoga or meditate. Granted… I have an older kid… so you can say it is easy for me, but I know women with smaller children who take yoga, meditate and have social lives. Some nights when I teach yoga, there are even dishes in the sink! Gasp! Guess what… this is real life, therefore, there are dishes in the sink.
Sometimes, it can feel like it is too much to balance out your life. Like, finding balance is a stressor in itself. This is valid. VALID. If it feels like too much to find some sort of picture perfect zen mommyhood – then I still think it would be a good idea for you to take a time out before you lose your mind and start yelling at everybody for their shoes being left in the hallway again… or worse… you end up sick.
Even if you are at the stage in your life where when you go to the bathroom and you have little fingers under the door – you can do something for yourself. If you are at work, take a lunch break. A real lunch break. Sit outside and enjoy the fresh air… your “me time” does not have to be fancy. A 5 minute meditation break can change your whole day. Imagine if you took a whole 10 minutes a day! I promise you can do it! Ask for help. Ask for support. If you are not getting the support you need, then there may be bigger issues brewing that you need to tend to.
Taking time for yourself is not selfish. It is necessary. Having a spotless house and being there for every. single. moment. of your kids life is not necessary. You, your marriage and your kids will all benefit from you taking care of yourself.