What did you do for yourself this week?
This was the question posed to us mommies at our “Play Together Learn Together” class at NOVA Southeastern University’s Mailman Segal Institute in Davie, FL. Laurie Waldman, Parent Educator for the past 32 years at NOVA asked us all, “So how was your week? Tell me, what did you do for yourselves this week?”
As all of the moms stared blank faced at each other and looked around the room in uncomfortable silence, I could almost hear the crickets start to chirp…when I blurted out suddenly, quietly and quite self-consciously, “Well, I sort of worked out today?”
“You did?!”, she exuberantly responded in her high pitched preschool teacher voice. I felt like I had just received a gold star in Kindergarten! Yep, I worked out for a whole 30 minutes, while talking to and entertaining my toddler the entire time. I was the only mom in the class out of eleven total, that had done anything for herself this week. And I was damn lucky (might I add) to get in this one lone workout this week. This is modern day motherhood.
Wait, this is motherhood?
When and how did it come to be that mom’s have fallen off the priority list? I’m not talking about putting themselves last on the list…I’m talking about not even being on the list. In this world of monumental multi-tasking, how can a mom even find the time if she wanted to? Between a career, grocery shopping, bill paying, laundry, kids, school projects, and fort building, that doesn’t leave a lot of time to just…well…”be”. Don’t we deserve more?
After this toddler class, I came home and started looking at my schedule and realized, I don’t have myself prioritized either. I’m always scheduling my activities around the school schedule, the dance class schedule, the HEAT schedule, my husband’s schedule, the nanny’s schedule…but never do I ask my family to plan around me. Why is that? Don’t I deserve more?
Are We on the Brink?
A friend of mine forwarded me an interesting article about a woman who wrote the book The Brink. The author, Katrina Alcorn, says many working mom’s are simply falling apart. “Most jobs are still made for people who have an adult at home who can take care of the kids and do the grocery shopping and fill out the school forms and attend the parent-teacher conferences in the middle of the day. That’s not how we’re living anymore.” I couldn’t agree more. It seems that with family size and expenses growing and growing, so does the need for two incomes. And while both parents working is more the norm these days, the pressure to handle the majority of the children’s care largely falls on the mother.
That’s not to say fathers don’t pitch in. There’s a large population of amazing stay at home dad’s that would trump many moms these days! And my husband is a whiz when it comes to laundry and other household chores. But as Waldman emphasized in class, it’s still a 70/30 spilt between moms and dads when it comes to kids, which is definitely true in our house. I even recently thought about going on strike, yesterday in fact, just simply because I was tired. Tired of doing dishes. Tired of the tantrums and trying to come up with another listening chart. And tired of having to get up at 5:30am just to get a workout in. Does it really have to be this hard? Don’t we deserve more?
Put ME Time on the Schedule!
So I decided a few weeks ago to literally schedule myself in. Each Sunday morning I print out our weekly schedule and write in time for me for everyone in the family to see. There might actually be a day the nanny comes this week just so I can run errands, and go hopping. (GASP) I know, right? I’m actually going to go to the mall alone, without packing sippy cups and snacks, loading in the double stroller, and lugging a heavy diaper bag. And I’m working out three mornings this week, and I implore you all to do the same! Schedule something just for you because you love it and it makes you happy. And bury the mom guilt, you deserve more!
Several top financial advisers always say the first step to managing your money is to pay yourself first. Well, think of this as an investment in your mental and emotional health, and pay yourself with time. I can’t tell you how incredibly great it felt last week to eat dinner with my husband and girls, and then leave to go to Sam’s Club. He gave them a bath and did the dinner dishes, and I cleared my head, had fun looking at the books, clothes, and toys, and came home an hour later totally relaxed. (And of course with the checkbook $200 lighter.)
Being a mom in itself is a full time job. And with all the added pressure to bring in a second or even primary income, some of us are drowning. It’s time to be OK with not making homemade cookies on cookie day, popping in chicken nuggets when you don’t want to cook, and hiring a babysitter just because you want to sit in the sun and read a good book.
So Really, What Did You Do For Yourself This Week?
I recently asked for friends on Facebook to tell me what they did for themselves this week. Here are some of the very few responses:
Thanks to these awesome women for sharing, and hats off to all three of you for taking time for yourselves!
I recently chatted with US Olympic soccer star Brandi Chastain, who is most known for her sports bra bearing celebration in 1999, when the US defeated China in the World Cup. I asked her how she balances motherhood and her career, her response?
“I make time for myself everyday, its mandatory. Sometimes its 5:00am, sometimes its lunchtime. Sometimes its only 5 minutes. Women are overworked and don’t give themselves enough credit, and feel like we have to do everything. But if we don’t care for ourselves, ultimately we are not going to be what we hoped to be. And I deserve it.”
So do I. And so do you.