being a mom

Mind Over Mommy: Coping With Guilt About Self-Care

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I got a massage over the weekend. It’s a new thing I’m doing since my mom gifted me a free one for Mother’s Day. You’d think committing to a weekly one-hour date with myself would be the easiest thing in the world, but it isn’t. That’s the thing about this whole self-care gig — even when you know you’re doing something good for yourself, it’s hard to commit.

Becoming a parent is kind of like having a switch flip on that can never, ever be turned off. Every second you’re awake, and even when you’re sleeping, you’re burdened by the weight of being responsible for other people. Calling it a ‘burden’ makes it sound overwhelmingly negative. It’s not. It’s just that you can never truly unwind and relax, even when you’re trying to give yourself the time and space to do it.

I thought about backing out of my first massage at least 25 times before I actually went. I was worried about leaving my husband to tend to everything at home — even though he handles things every single morning while I’m working — and I couldn’t stop thinking about the grocery list I needed to write, the pending work deadlines I had coming up, the chores I needed to do, and how much taking a measly hour to do something nice for myself would throw off my whole schedule for the day.

Chances are if you’ve ever attempted any sort of pampering, relaxation, or even just taking five minutes to drink a hot cup of coffee without interruption, you’ve experienced similar self-care guilt. It’s a natural response, especially for women since we are constantly bombarded with messages about self-sacrifice and being the best, most involved parent ever. Recognizing the guilt and anxiety you feel about taking care of yourself is easy. Letting go of it is the hard part.

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