When was the last time you thought to yourself, “am I a bad mom for __________?”
For me, it was a few weekends ago. We were on a 4-day family trip and I got into full “activities coordinator” mode and scheduled activities for each day, including planning out our lunch & dinners. I got so deep in my trip planner space, I forgot to schedule some time OFF for myself.
So then, on Sunday, when my husband made a comment (about something completely unrelated to the trip, the kids, or anything), I lost it. After ugly crying and yelling, I thought, oh no, “am I a bad mom for not wanting to spend this much time with my kids???” Yikes.
Thankfully, my very supportive husband talked me off the ledge, and we decided, for the next family trip, we’ll make sure to each take some time off for ourselves. Whether that’s to take a walk, or get a massage, or read a book. The reality is we ALL need time away from each other, even the people we love the most.
I’ve also come to the realization that my husband and I are very different in our parenting styles/preferences. I like having something to do: take the kids hiking, or go to a museum, or to a park/attraction, but for a short duration. I can get 100% into doing the activity, but then I need a break.
My superpower is I can get the kids to do just about everything, or at least try it once. During the pandemic when we went hiking every Sunday, a lot of moms asked me, “how do you get your kids to go hiking?” And the answer is, “I just do.” I’m really good at getting them excited to do an activity (“It’s Sunday! What do we do on Sundays? We are going HIKING!!!”), and I ‘m really good at actually making it happen (getting everyone dressed and in the car, getting the kids to walk, even if it means dragging them up the hill) and making it interesting (look at that tree! Look at all the moss on it!). But after all that excitement, WHEW, I need a break.
My husband has more of a low-key style: he can handle many hours of casually hanging out with the kids. He’ll be on his computer doing his stuff (usually some version of work/personal tech project), while the kids are doing their own thing (drawing, making a craft). Occasionally the kids come by and ask for his help, and he helps them. But otherwise he leaves them alone and they sort of coexist in the same space. He’s more patient, and can handle a higher degree of chaos than me. He’s also able to handle many more hours of “low key parenting” than me.
On the weekends, we usually do ONE main activity per day - for example, we take the kids hiking on Sunday. When we hike, I spend the entire time engrossed with the kids, having discussions, answering questions, pulling/pushing our little one up the hill.
Then, after lunch, I need a break. Usually in the form of a nap. And my husband takes over. If the kids rest, he gets some quiet time. Otherwise the kids would play in the garage while my husband works (not necessarily work stuff, but on his computer). And then we all reconvene for dinner.
Where we get into trouble is (1) there are multiple social events in a day and my husband gets burnt out, (2) we over schedule and neither of us gets down time.
Back to where we started. I think no one is ever a bad mom, but we do need to do better for ourselves and be clear (and speak up) about what we need. In my case, since I tend to over-commit, I need to schedule a break for myself so I don’t burn out. In my husband’s case, we need to keep our social commitments to where he doesn’t get “socialized out” at the end of the day. And, where possible, we need to encourage each other to take breaks too.
So, when we got home from our trip, I booked a sitter so we could each have the night “off.” I went to a Zumba class, and my husband got a massage. Now everyone is MUCH happier (also the kids are back in school, which helps a lot).
Parenting is truly a marathon, and going forward I’ll be more mindful of when I need a water break. Instead of thinking of myself as a “bad mom,” I am going to start thinking of myself as a human being. And all humans have basic needs: need for sustenance, need for rest, need for love/connection, need for socialization, need for stimulation, and need for downtime. And it’s not a good/bad thing to want/need all these things, it’s just human nature.
What are your parenting strengths? Where do you over-stretch and get burned out? How do you take time for yourself? Comment below and share your thoughts!
Our first evening - got Chinese food takeout and enjoying a beautiful sunset on the patio
At Seymour Marine Discovery Center - L got to touch a swell shark! (the shark was sleeping)
At Lighthouse Field State Beach, where kids climbed on the rocks and dug in the sand
At the Santa Cruz Children's Museum of Discovery. Kids LOVED this place!
Sandcastle time is the best time
We got a date-day in and went hiking! It was great to have a break, even just for a few hours
Thank you Seascape Resort + Beach for the wonderful stay!