I know that you put yourself last all day long. You are the first one out of bed in the morning and the last one back in bed at night. You work tirelessly cleaning, cooking, and chauffeuring children. You don't take time for yourself, because you simply don't have time for yourself. There is laundry to be done, there are bills to be paid, and there is no rest for the weary.
I know you do this, because I do it, too.
I also know that if you do try to take a little time for yourself by reading a couple chapters in your book, sitting down to watch your favorite television show, or going out to lunch with a friend that you probably feel guilty. You think about all of the things you could have accomplished during that time and you feel that you shouldn't have indulged.
Whenever I decide to ignore the dishes or the laundry or the whole of my to-do list while I do something for myself I feel like a failure. At the end of the day, when I see how much I didn't accomplish, I feel terrible.
Why do we feel so very guilty about taking time for ourselves? More importantly, why do we think that burning ourselves out is so honorable? There is something wrong with this picture!
When my husband sent me to Mackinac Island for my birthday a couple weeks ago, I felt excited, of course, but also extremely guilty and a little bit anxious. I had a to-do list for those three days that was miles long. I had so much to get done to be prepared for school to start and losing three days was going to set me back a long way.
What I failed to realize while I was stressing out about all of this "lost time" was just how much I needed it. Yes, my plans were all set back a little bit when I came home, but I was able to do most everything I needed to with a happier heart and a rejuvenated soul.
By stealing just a bit of time to do something for myself each day I will feel more present, happier, and more able to have meaningful relationships with my husband and children. Sometimes this pressure to do everything on my list makes me feel like I don't even have time to listen to my kids after school or go on a walk with my husband. How stupid is that?
You can't give from an empty vessel. And when we moms are running completely on empty, it's time to go fill up somehow. Your filling up might not look like my filling up, but whatever it is, you need to do it. This school year, I'm going to make sure I take a few minutes (or hours!) for myself every single day. For me that will mean reading my favorite books, sitting on the deck basking in the sunshine (while we still have it), and catching some lunch dates with my friends. It will mean continuing to say no to things that aren't absolutely essential to my life, and it will mean leaving a few things undone.
But that's okay, because I am worth it.
You are worth it, too!
Stop feeling guilty and grab a few minutes for yourself.