Putting Yourself Last Doesn't Make You a Better Mom
November 26, 2018
You've likely heard this question from a friend or asked this yourself...
The dreaded.... "does it make me a bad mom if....??"
If you find yourself asking this question, you know deep down it's likely something that you already know is a resounding NO. (BUT- Those of us who are so committed to our children that we frequently self-doubt typically aren't questioning if it's a good idea to leave their baby to go smoke crack behind a dumpster or something. However, if that's what you're considering, then yeah, you should seek professional help.)
I've been fortunate to have been working with moms of all different stages of their journeys and I can't thank them enough for sharing their wisdoms with me over the years.
In some circles of moms I'll hear phrases like, "must be nice" or "if you aren't completely miserable you're not doing it right". Yes, motherhood is pure sacrifice at times, but your own health and happiness matter greatly.
I used to be this mom.
Take, for example, that as much as I adore my toddler, he's the WORST napper. Sometimes it's only 20 minutes, or he doesn't transfer, or he refuses to nap in his crib. So, in fear or being a "bad mom", I would spend hours driving aimlessly, or rocking him to failed sleep.. you get the idea.
In my attempts to avoid being a "bad mom" and just do some damn sleep training, I became a mom I didn't want to be. I was exhausted, annoyed, I snapped at my kids, I neglected my own laundry, meals, and sleep. I missed deadlines, I arrived to my own classes 5 minutes beforehand, and I was miserable. I blamed this on my kid (cue the mom guilt) and it was all my own fault.
After Piper was born I had to make changes. She gets ignored most of the day because her brother is the squeakier wheel, and she and I weren't bonding. I couldn't prepare meals, I couldn't exercise, I couldn't keep my house from looking like a bomb went off, and we were all miserable. I needed Finn to sleep.
So I finally did it. I left Finn in his crib, with a clean diaper, full belly, and lots of snuggles beforehand. I gave him the space he needed to sleep. Piper and I would go downstairs and do tummy time, I would workout with her, and take care of household stuff if she slept. Yeah, I felt like the worst mom in the world watching Finn just roll around in his crib, but it needed to happen. It was really ugly at first, but now he just falls asleep on his own and I really wish I had started doing this sooner!
I'm not suggesting that every kid needs sleep training or "quiet time", as we call it, every kid is different. Nor am I suggesting you need to "self care" at the spa every week. My hope for you is that you allow yourself the permission you need in order to be happy and to take care of yourself.
Maybe that means learning to ask for help, outsourcing the parts of parenting that don't bring you joy (hellooo Amazon Prime!), changing up your daily routine to fit in some extra time, or just giving yourself a damn break every so often. It's 100% okay in my opinion to put your baby down for a few minutes so you can take care of yourself.