Today we were meant to go away so my husband had taken a leave day and kept it when our plans changed. With both kids at school, we unexpectedly have a whole day together. We had initially planned to do some super responsible things but I spent most of the night back and forth with my youngest and my husband had been off sick this week so we decided to “take it easy”.
OMG!!! That concept is just SO HARD! As a parent, my “day off” is supposed to be super productive (and it usually is). So the idea of just relaxing fills me with the guilts!
This morning once kids were off at school, we sat down and finished the series we’ve been watching (after hours… see how I have to make that clear?!) and my husband wanted the door open for the breeze but I insisted we close it. I didn’t tell him it’s because I don’t want anyone to hear us watching TV DURING THE DAY!
Then after that we cleaned the house and I didn’t tell him it’s so I could feel better about sitting down to watch some more TV with him.
What IS that?
Why is it that I feel so incredibly guilty about any non-parenting time that isn’t somehow linked to parenting?
Why is it that I do feel like on my “days off” I have to make sure every minute is accounted for?
The thing is, parenting needs a heck of a lot of support. It really does! Parenting on empty is horrible and almost always ends in tears (for everyone involved). I will scream from the rooftops to make sure Self-Care is a massive component of your parenting routine and yet… I still fall victim to the guilts when I do it!
Recently, I rekindled my Sims addiction and so one of my favourite self-care activities is to sit down with my chai tea and play half an hour of Sims. I set a timer and everything and when anyone happens to pop by (I live close to my family) I feel compelled to explain “I’m just having 30 minutes of Sims time… see the timer?” but why on earth do I feel so guilty about recharging my batteries? Why do I feel like I have to answer to people all the time?
My husband puts parenting work above all else and truly understands, appreciates and supports my work as a parent yet I am constantly sending him texts like “So sorry… I’ve been out all day and didn’t manage to get the dishes done!” to which he replies “I’m sorry… was that message meant for Ike Turner?”
I believe in celebrating and welcoming the full gambit of emotions, particularly for our children, which I expand on here but there is one emotion that research shows really doesn’t serve us and that is shame. Parental guilt is the by-product of generations of shame and it really doesn’t do us any favours. It comes from those awful experiences when we were made an example of or told we weren’t good enough or important enough or we don’t deserve to look after ourselves. It’s wrong!!!! Especially as parents who are trying so hard and working constantly to ensure our children don’t have those same experiences and associations. We need to embrace self-compassion and be Bad Moms when need be.
So, I type this having snuggled on the couch with my husband in the middle of a Friday with Thai food and a glass of wine in my system saying I DON’T CARE! I know this time we have stolen awarded ourselves with will make us better parents this afternoon and we will take that wonderous feeling into our weekend and kick parenting a**!
I challenge you to do something for you today and tell the guilt to back the fudge off!!!
With love and solidarity,
Aunty Ask xx