Sat in a local coffee shop, finally enjoying the long overdue catch up with a dear friend. Considering a quick mooch in the new clothes shop that has opened next door.
You have the morning off. Your husband is at work, the children at school. You relish having time to yourself, even if just for an hour or two.
Then there it is. That little eye-rolling judging voice in your head…”Well, you aren’t using this time very productively, are you? There’s that basket of ironing you STILL haven’t tackled, what about dinner hmmm, oh then there is that email you haven’t sent…”
Off you go, down the slippery synaptic slope into MUM GUILT.
We know the feeling well, so accustomed are we to it. It leaves un-drunk cups of tea, unshaved legs and unread books in its wake. The feeling that we must be all things to all people…but ourselves it seems.
Boy, am I guilty of mum guilt and probably have the unshaved legs to prove it.
Why is it though? I am worst than most. A martyr to feeling that I must earn my stripes as a mother. This has been exacerbated by giving up work and my financial independence to return to full-time study.
The feeling that somehow I can’t justify #selfcare.
What’s that about? No other 24 hours a day, 365 days per year job would minimise breaks to a quick wee and eating your lunch with one hand whilst unloading the dishwasher with the other.
I have been intrigued by the trending #selfcaresunday hashtag on Instagram. I mean, it is wonderful to see so many women carving out ‘me time’ but it also feels like we are having to claim it. Justify it, ask permission for it. ‘See we have a hashtag for it, we are allowed’.
We SHOULDN’T feel guilty and pssst here is a secret…we don’t need permission.
Children are vessels into which we willingly pour ourselves but we can only rely on us to replenish our own.
What words of advice would we give our daughters? Would we tell them to be sure they choose that chore over a friendship? Their housework to do list over expanding their minds? Of course not.
We teach our children the importance of kindness from their very earliest years. ‘Kind hands’, ‘kind words’, we hear ourselves say. ‘Treat others as you would like to be treated’.
Perhaps as mums, we are forgetting that being kind to ourselves should be on that list too. That we are not failing if our to do lists, on occasion, don’t have our undivided attention. The dishwasher isn’t going anywhere. Run that bath, pop on a face-mask and shave your legs…I know at least one other person who will thank you for the last bit.
Replenish. Nourish you in both the mental and physical sense of the word.
I am talking to myself as much as anyone else here. Yes we will be better mums and wives for it, but more importantly, we will be kind to the women we still are within, when we drop all the titles.
I think we should dump the mum guilt and learn to practice the kindness that we preach.